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People Can Change But You Can’t Change People

Why We Should Focus on Changing Ourselves Instead

Photo Credit: Caique Silva on Unsplash

Without question, my favorite individuals are those who are who they are — whoever that may be, all day everyday. They’re the same person, regardless of where they are, who they’re with and despite all current surroundings or circumstances. Love them or hate them, they naturally bleed authenticity.

Their faults are as organic as they are glaring. Their self awareness makes up for what they may lack elsewhere, their brutal honesty easily compensates for other personal defects or obvious shortcomings. Most importantly though, there’s nothing you can do or say to change who or what they are at their core.

If they’re ever to change, it’ll come from within. Because at the end of the day, the only changes which last and end up mattering, are those we decide to make ourselves.

As much as they may want to, those around us can’t change who we are — nor vice versa. At least not really. Though this seemingly never has stopped either party from trying. We tell ourselves that person would be perfect for us if they just — fill in the blank.

They’d be so much better off in life if they could, well — be who and what we want them to, rather than who they truly are.

Meanwhile, more often than not, subconsciously this is just our way of projecting our own defects and shortcomings onto others. It’s us identifying what we don’t like about ourselves, through the character traits we supposedly can’t stand in others. Not always — but often.

To be clear, this is not to say every trait we dislike in others, exists in us also.

My other favorite type of people, are those who are willing to be as brutally honest with themselves, as they are with others. Their brand of tough love doesn’t stop at those around them, it’s one they are more than willing to point right back at themselves. They recognize their own faults and where they need improvement in their lives — and then take the necessary action to do so.

Not so they can share about it on their social media status but instead in the interest of actually improving their lives and growing as people. They change for themselves, not because someone else urged or asked them to.

Ultimately, we all resent being given ultimatums. They’re belittling — ways we deal with children who misbehave. What they are not however, are tools for inspiring lasting changes in grown adults, who you believe you know what’s best for, better than they themselves do.

Anyone who allegedly makes a core change in who or what they are overnight at another’s request is one of three things — fake, a liar or weak.

A pushover whose actions are dictated by those around them. Real changes rarely happen overnight and when they do, they come from an internal place and on what ends up feeling like the longest night of our natural born lives.

Photo: Courtesy of Unsplash

Real changes are painful but necessary, like those a good editor makes to bad writing with an overall good message. We see the potential in it, clean it up, organize it and get rid of the unnecessary. Perhaps we even chop out entire sections of nonsense and properly punctuate it.

However, human beings are not pieces of writing. We have to make our own edits, so to speak. Unfortunately, we can’t attach who we are as people to an email and send it to someone else for review, in hopes they’ll proofread it and send back a revised final draft.

If that was the case, all our stories and lives would be far less imperfect than they are. We’d all win Pulitzer's for who we are as people.

So essentially the moral of the story is, if we should ever find ourselves wanting to change something about someone else — it’s probably best to first start with ourselves. Not only is this a better use of our time, it’s a change more likely to actually last and one we’ll thank ourselves for, if and when it does.



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Brian Brewington

Brian Brewington


Writing About the Human Condition, via My Thoughts, Observations, Experiences, and Opinions — Founder of Journal of Journeys and BRB INC ©