Can People Change?

Can People Change?

‘Can people change?’ The question may
sound somewhat abstract and disinterested, as if one were asking for a friend or for
the universe, but it is likely to be a good deal more personally – and painfully – motivated
than that. We ask, typically and acutely, when we’re
in a relationship with someone who is inflicting a great deal of pain on us: someone who is
refusing to open their hearts or can never stop lying, someone who is aggressive or detached,
someone who is harming themselves or managing to devastate us. We ask too because the one
immediately obvious response to frustration isn’t in this case open to us: we’re not
able to simply get up and go, we are too emotionally or practically invested to give up, something
roots us to the spot. And so, with the example of one troublesome human in mind, we start
to wonder outwards about human nature in general, what it might be made of and how malleable
it could turn out to be. One thing is likely already to be evident to us: even if people
can change, they certainly don’t change easily. Maybe they flare up every time we
raise an issue and accuse us of being cruel or dogmatic; maybe they break down late at
night and admit they have a problem but by morning, vehemently deny that there could
ever be anything amiss. Maybe they say yes they get it now, but then don’t ever deploy
understanding where it really matters. We can at best conclude that by the time we’ve
had to raise the question of change in our minds, someone around us has managed not to
change either very straightforwardly or very gracefully. We might ask a prior question:
is it even OK to want someone to change? The implication from those who generate trouble
for us is, most often, an indignant ‘no’. ‘Love me for who I am’ is their mantra.
But considered more imaginatively, only a perfect human would ever deny that they might
need to grow a little in order more richly to deserve the love of another. For the rest
of us, all moderately well-meaning and half-way decent requests for change should be heard
with goodwill and in certain cases acted upon with immense seriousness. Those who bristle
at the suggestion that they might need to change are – paradoxically – giving off
the clearest evidence that they may be in grave need of inner evolution. Why might change be so hard? It isn’t as
if the change-resistant person is merely unsure what is amiss, and will manage to alter course
once an issue is pointed out – as someone might if their attention were drawn to a strand
of spinach in their teeth. The refusal to change is more tenacious and willed than this.
A person’s entire character may be structured around an active aspiration not to know or
feel particular things; the possibility of insight will be aggressively warded off through
drink, compulsive work routines, or offended irritation with all those who attempt to spark
it. In other words, the unchanging person doesn’t only lack knowledge, they are vigorously
committed to not acquiring it. And they resist it because they are fleeing from something
extraordinarily painful in their past that they were originally too weak or helpless
to face – and still haven’t found the wherewithal to confront. One isn’t so much
dealing with an unchanging person as, first and foremost, with a traumatised one. Part
of the problem, when one is on the outside, is realising what one is up against. The lack
of change can seem so frustrating because one can’t apprehend why it should be so
hard. Couldn’t they simply move an inch or two in the right direction? But if we considered,
at that moment, the full scale of what this person once faced, and the conditions in which
their mind was formed (and certain of its doors bolted shut), we might be more realistic
and more compassionate. ‘Couldn’t they just…’ would not longer quite make sense.
At the same time, very importantly, we might not stick around as long as we often do. We
should at this juncture perhaps ask ourselves a question that may feel at once unfair and
rather tough: given how clear the evidence is of a lack of change in a certain person,
and hence of a lack of realistic hope that our needs are going to be met any time soon,
why are we still here? Why are we trying to open a door that can’t open and returning
to a recurring frustration and hoping for a different result? What broken part of us
can’t leave a lack of fulfilment alone? What bit of our story is being re-enacted
in a drama of continuously dashed hopes? And, if we are talking of change, might we
one day change into characters who don’t sit around waiting without end for other people
to change? Might we become better at sifting through options and allowing through only
those who can already meet the lion’s share of our needs? In addition, might we become
better at deploying a dash of life-sustaining ruthlessness in order to leave those who tirelessly
rebuff us? We may need to rebuild our minds in order – with time – to change into
people who don’t wonder for too long if, and when, people
might change.

Author: Kevin Mason

100 thoughts on “Can People Change?

  1. Do you think people can or should change? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to turn on notifications to ensure you don't miss our next film.

  2. There seems to be disadvantage for the people that are messed up. Because of their past. Maybe the best way to avoid this disadvantage is using social engineering.

  3. you must give up in this situation and don't chase people who don't want you especialy girls and stay with your dignity even if you chase them they might change even if they do you will stay as the dog who chased them forever.

  4. Nope. Definitely not. Move on or live in a perfect agony for the rest of your life.

  5. I learned that we cannot force others to change, they and ourselves are formed from the long journey of each other's lives. good or bad. Even if we can make someone change, it's very complicated.

  6. @ 0:28 "Open their heart" is merely a metaphor. There has never been a channel from the ring finger. Objective comedy v. subjective tragedy.

  7. In conclusion for people to change their character it's almost impossible without their being a motive however. the essence of the person still remains the same and will always need to be controlled in my opinion.

  8. Change for the better, insinuates that a person would be better if they conformed to a mental construct I think they should be following. Whenever I think you should change, I realize the only thing I should worry about changing is my own thinking. That's a job in itself and completely enough. 😃

  9. Three years ago I started going to psychotherapy, after a hard break up and the loss of my grandmother. At some point I wanted to quit it because I felt better and I didn't feel the need to be there anymore. My psychologist said: "You are free to go, but eventually you will return again".

    I missed two sessions and later I came back to therapy. I understood that it was the time to give up all my control and start leaving me in hands of a professional. I agreed to draw things, talk about deepest fears openly, do the homework, speak to my family in order to show my emotions, leave people in my life go away… In summary: to start the change.

    Now I'm in my fourth year, things have gone better and better. But now I look to the path I have completed and I don't know if everyone is ready to do something like that. Change is hard but after you do it, your life starts again 🙂

  10. Thank you for pointing out a very central aspect of many relationships and as always wonderful questions. My thoughts are: is it OK to help others change when they confess that though change might be helpful or necessary for them, they don't want to change? Is it OK (or ethical) to go beyond someone's will to enrich (or even save) love in a relationship?

  11. Oh. Fuck. This hit too close to home…nail on the fucking head.

    I guess my only question now is, what's my past trauma? What damaged me? What broke me? Ok, three questions, but all related. Don't be so pedantic.

  12. I need to change but it feels insurmountable. My constant depression and obsession with someone in my life has made me a jaded, bitter person who lashes out at others at the loosest hint of perceived slights.

    I'm losing everyone around me and I want help so badly. I can't see myself cutting this person I've developed an unhealthy obsession over out of my life. We're best friends but seeing him happy with his significant other makes me miserable. I don't even know where to begin.

  13. You can only change yourself. Work on that. If you want someone else to change, it will only happen when they want to. Don't wait if they are a stumbling block to you.

  14. I really like the question and part of the answer.
    But I'm missing the part where we should look into where we ourselves are resisting to change, and maybe cutting away people is just an attempt of getting away from changing ourselves…

  15. I don't think it is possible to change the base nature of individuals, people exist on a linear scale of psychopathy and that can't be altered without chemical intervention.

  16. "What can change the nature of a man?", Planescape: Torment. 1998.

    Sorry guys, but we already nailed that pretty much two decades ago. It pays off to be a nerd, in the long run.

  17. People can change.
    Paradigm shifts.

    You could also take a person with what’s considered normal behavior and throw them in isolation for year and most will have a major behavioral change. The title didn’t say good or bad changes, but if it can go one way it is possible to change for the better. Lessons learned can change someone.

  18. Yes especially after getting mono from your fiancee you've been with for 7 years lots of uncomfortable question around that

  19. People can change, the question is: arecthey open for it?

    My father is a cold, closed-off person. The type who will not hug, does not want to know what I thinks or go through, does not want to spend time with me and will never, ever say "I love you", even though he knows the words would mean everything to me.

    Needless to say, my relationship with him was superficial, like a tree where the roots never went deep into the ground.

    Then the storm came, of great problems in his and my life. And our relationship did not survive.

    I tried to get him to open up, to let me in. But he was like a massive wall, without a door. I spent years trying to find a way in. Sometimes in good ways, sometimes in bad ways. I failed.

    I know he comes from a cold family. I remember his mother. She was hard. She had something bitter, lonely over her felt in the last years of her life. But I was a child, so it is hard to say exactly what was going on.

    I walked away from my father. It was the hardest decision of my life. And it took me much time to make and do this decision, it was a process.

    It was the right decision.

    Can people change? Yes. But only if they are open for it. That is my experience.

  20. How does SOL manage to adress the issues that people are going through in such a timely manner? I feel like this video was made just for me.

  21. I was the person waiting for people to change but when I realise that I was hopping all the time that people change for me but I didn't want to change my self for them when I was ask to, I knew something was off.
    Now, with therapy, I work in my insecurities and now I can a accept people the way they are or leave the relationship or put a distance if needed.
    thanks for this content, this videos help me so much! they make me more secure of some of my desicion or they rise awarness of the parts of me I need to work to. so thank you

  22. Very interesting topic. By the way I recommend the show "Bojack Horseman" on Netflix that explores this exact same problem (and other interesting philosophical topics) in a very realistic (in my opinion) way.

  23. What about someone who thinks they must change everything about themselves because they arent good enough as they are? I have struggled for years with the desire to grow and improve with the act of loving and accepting yourself as you are.

  24. Yes it's like banging your head against a brick wall. You can only do it for so long. I'm trying to change but like all things it's hard to do but I'm sticking it out because I have to. 👍 another thoughtful presentation thank you.

  25. It's certainly not easy.
    Especially when society at large breeds and encourages destructive behavior for yourself and others.

  26. Absolutely people change. My levels of anxiety have gone up and my ability to handle it has gone down. It's a negative change, but a change none the less. People change all the time, just not in the ways we want them to.
    The question is, how can we shape ourselves and others the way we want. And that is more malicious because we impose our will on others. Instead, what we need to do is listen to someone, discover their ideal self, and help to reinforce that behavior. It's called the Michaelangelo effect.

  27. People in general do not become more wise with age. It's only the occasional. It's very dissappointing to meet old friends and they have lost their humor and their sense of wonder and they have adapted to the rules marinstream culture. To be like everybody else does not mean that you are better than those who aren't.

  28. "Doors bolted shut". Opening those doors was painful, after a lifetime of fearing them…yet I am glad to have lived through that awful pain. Facing the truth of ones fears is the only way to become fearless. I would add to your excellent advice: cut the cord of connection as you see fit…with dignity and compassion. A kind word, upon exit, may be a life preserver for one expecting nothing. Save the heavy bricks for your own new path.

  29. The Universal Self is the agent of all change. It is therefore true that people can change, but false that they "change themselves".

  30. I've been engaged for two months so far and this video coming up in my recommended was spot on. When we first met we had noticed everything we had in common but with time passing by we started arguing because of my short temper and other traits of my personality my boyfriend and myself don't get along well. It's been 2 months I've been promising him I'll change and since I've started changing, I've already seen improvements in myself. Of course I have a different background so change isn't always easy, and things to fix are so many sometimes I forget some of them getting me and him fighting again, but I really want this cycle to stop and be happy with him.
    If you love him/her and you're completely sure he's the right person any change will always be worth it.

  31. Hardly. We are all conditioned by our life experiences. Telling someone to change is a huge challenge to the illusion of one's integraty. An attack on the ego. That's why we repeat the same mistake over and over and over. It's just that difficult to change.

  32. my ex was expecting a different person, not me. i tried to change myself for that person, it didn't work and my ex left me.
    it's actually better for me in the long term, cuz i should have thought of my well being first, now im: exercising, finishing things i planned long ago, becoming more sociable
    it's better to change for myself as priority, not for anyone else

  33. I think the more information you absorb, and the more you understand things, you slowly change. There are “aha”, enlightening, awakening moments as well. I definitely think people can change. I sure have, in every aspect of my life

  34. I used to tolerate all kinds of people around me, until around 30. I started cutting people out that annoyed me, even if they are family. Of course i struggle with my own self and thoughts about whether i can change to be more tolerant, but at my core i am pretty introverted and feel no real need to bend, just to be social. I think people can change certain things, about themselves, but i also think there are core things that remain. Malcolm X went from a pimp to a civil rights leader, but was he really a different person? Perhaps that is purely a matter of perspective.

  35. But what if you the one who can't change when someone asks for change which obviously is for better but isn't happening…?

  36. This hit close. My ex was a foster child who's foster parents kicked her out, she ended up in jail. When she got out she participated in the most self distructive behavior. I couldn't accept who she was, my crys for change tore our relationship apart.

  37. I have not changed for 45 years now but the whole world has changed and I will try not to change the next 25 expected years. Only my body gets older.

  38. … change, ~in order to more richly deserve another's loving~…

    Are you, Alain, totally out of your mind?

    The devout dependency-orientation in that statement, in the assumption underlying it, is true insanity for any adult to be imbibing!!

    Evolve for sake of improving one's Soul/Rigpa's state, not so that one will be more "deserving" of some others' affections!

    What a bizarre baby-philosophy that is!

    Evolve for sake of being more upright, Eternal, shed-of-ignorance!

    How can EternallyAbidingMind/Soul of one's own be held in such contempt as to orient only to social-affections, instead?

    What creepily-compromised frame-of-reference!

    Salut, Namaste, & Kaizen, but I pray to ocean-of-all-awake-souls, & the potential in my own rigpa, that my soul separates from imprisonment-incarnations/lives among your race, soon enough that your race can have its way & my soul can just move-on, free!
    ( without being dredged through the mess humanity is making in the coming global-civil-war tantrum, with you )

  39. Man, the strange nonunderstandings in this…
    * SurfaceMind, which disappears every time one sleeps, is drunk, or is in-shock, exists for hours at a time…
    * underlying LifeMind, forms in conception-gestation, disintegrates through death
    ** the crystal-of-ignorance that exists in LifeMind, claiming it is one's "self", that projects SurfaceMind, that crystal-of-ignorance being called "ego", it will fight for itself against the life containing it, itself*, if necessary, to protect *its perpetuation: a drunk who obliterates their own life rather than break addiction, protected that kernel-of-unconsciousness "successfully"
    * EternallyAbidingMind/Soul/Rigpa/Jiva/one-of-Elohim/Continuum… that which can experience thousands of "lives/deaths" without noticing much, without learning much, without changing much, because it doesn't consider those LifeMinds or SurfaceMinds to be REAL, they don't make any difference, they aren't visceral-to-it-in-its-domain-or-way, etc…

    Just as we hold sleep-dreams to be non-real, souls hold our-lives to be non-real: same "logic".

    Since the kernel-of-unconsciousness/ignorance in our underlying LifeMind is itself the basis of our "identity", it is our assumed "self", to threaten it is to threaten "self"-destruction!

    Of Course it would prefer that our-life-itself be destroyed than it directly be destroyed/changed!

    That is precisely the problem: how to alter our unconscious structure, so that our unconscious LifeMind itself no longer identifies with that kernel-of-ignorance.

    It isn't "us" who identifies that as our "self", it is our unconscious LifeMind!
    ( SurfaceMind is just a mirage: too temporary & shallow to be real, anyhow )

    The magnitude of force required to force-change-into an unconscious LifeMind is immense, & so stressful to experience, that force-induced-plasticization is called, here in the west, "a nervous breakdown", when in fact that simply is *an ego-breakdown*.

    ( :

  40. People change when they feel safe and comfortable about doing so.. especially once they understand the depth of that change. it might take a lot of crafty and clever communication to get-through to that person but once they begin to see the picture of who they might become, and learn to accept it instead of reject it from traumatic past experiences, they might just open-up if the right environment presents itself and the person “sees the light” and feels good about whom they have on their “team” or as a companion.. I think the biggest difficulty of ‘change’ is feeling excluded or not trusting that they truly belong in that circle and having a new life… or that others are mocking them or playing games with them, not giving the information to them “straight” which pushes the person down a dark path of feeling further alienated and less willing to become that person they want to be; for themselves and others: Truly grounded, strong, and present for whatever the occasion…

    In my life, the thoughts and feelings of being “toyed with” has been a major issue: I’ve never been socially apt but I am very imaginative.. so I see all sorts of things and when others get involved I start to wonder “what’s real??” And that thought alone can twist and turn into months of torment if they do it feel that others are being completely honest and frank with them.. for a creative person there are too many variables about any particular notion, it becomes a trap instead of a liberation.. they need to be comforted and assured about the truth of what others want so they can know if they are the person who can fulfill those needs or not: to know “ok that’s what you want? I can do that” OR “ok I know what you want but I’m not willing to do that”

    A person in the midst of tremendous personal growth needs the facts (and positive reinforcement for the changes they wish to move closer to) and nothing else.

  41. Several times in my life I've looked into the mirror and didn't like what I saw. 32 years ago I started on the path of 12 step recovery. It's hard and take a lot of time. The rest of my life. It's turning out better than I could have imagined.

  42. Depends on the individual! And the change has to come from the individual’s willingness.
    I left my parents when I was 17. I was raised in a family that never allowed to express my feelings and have my own mind because that was disrespectful and impolite in my culture. I always thought it was wrong, however, I lived under their roof. I have to follow their perspectives. As a child, most of the time, I was alone and in my own world, even though I was born in a big family with seven other siblings. At 17, I formed my own core values, started with I am my backbone, my best friend is me, myself and I. Due to that belief, I was never disappointed If the ppl close to me failed me. I learned not to take human personally or assuming things. That will only set me up for failure, like upset, sad, unhappy, etc. negative emotions ( parasites). That can only put me in hell of emotions. The biggest human’s addiction is suffering ( angry,envy, fear-anxiety, sad, jealous, hypocrites, etc.) the most important awareness is to know that one has to be responsible for oneself. If one is unhappy, anxiety, fears, sick or broke. One needs to look inside, don’t get stuck in a child’s perceptions, the story was belonged to one’s primary caregiver. it’s no longer existence. And the primary caregiver didn’t even remember she had done that. Everything was based on her emotions on the environment at that time.

  43. Conocí a una persona que tenía varios trastornos en su personalidad, todo el tiempo me mandoneaba y me hacía sentir menos, pero nunca se disculpaba. Me quedaba con el porque creía que dejaría de ser tan cruel, tan promiscuo, tan mentiroso, pero luego caí en cuenta de que esta persona nunca podría brindarme lo que yo quería: Cariño desinteresado, porque a él lo habían abandonado cuando era niño… Así que ¿Quién da lo que no tiene ni ha tenido nunca? Está bien querer que tu pareja crezca, pero está mal querer que cambie demasiadas cosas, porque entonces ¿Qué sentido tendría estar con ella?

  44. I felt this. especially that there has been a great emotional disconnect between my parents and me. I always kept the option available that I'd have to cut them out of my life if they refuse to change their minds when I come out to them as gay. and honestly, if I have to, it's a decision I'm going to be happy to make. do what's best for you, my dudes.

    sending all my love <3

  45. It’s crazy when you have to deal with people who have “changed” when in fact all that is happening is the ending of a connection. Nobody here has personally changed…there is just a new light for a new part of life. When you start fighting with someone who you were once close with…there’s not much you can do to change whatever feelings they may have inside. No matter how much you want to sing them the old songs you both once shouted in the car so you can remind them what you guys once were…no matter how many times you give them that old smile and that loving touch…you simply are no longer a priority like you once were. This happens…what to do? You need to go find something that sparks your interest…something that makes you happy. Don’t be mad at the other person and try not to hate them…they are only human and they are merely doing the human thing of searching for their own happiness. Everyone is entitled to their own emotions…you can not title people as crazy or delusional they have reasons for doing confusing things because they are indeed just trying to work out what’s best for them…even if you don’t agree…it’s still not your life and it’s theirs…that’s why realizing your worth is the best thing to do…focusing on your desires and the things that bring you pleasure. Don’t put all you energy into someone who is putting their energy elsewhere. Find something that fuels you.

  46. I didn't change! With pain and strength I became myself in the end, only to realize I had been like that all the time but I hadn't really trusted me. Now I do. When we are wondering whether others can change since they are hurting us, that's the right time to leave. It's not an easy thing to do. And a hard learned lesson, yes. But now I'm more conscious and happy.

  47. I moved to Korea and made an expat friend earlier this year. We got along well but there was always some things that she wasn't willing to talk about, or even admit to. She was never willing to try new things (such as taking the train instead of the bus to get out of town). I soon realized that she was the person being described in this video. People won't change no matter how much you want them to, they can only decide that for themselves. Having gone to therapy myself, I suggested her to try it. But she adamantly refused, for she thought Googling CBT would help solve her issues. I ended the friendship 2 months ago, and I honestly feel so relieved. I guess with some people, you just have to leave them where you found them.

  48. I miss him…I guess the broken part of me is the fact that all attempts to stop missing this person even though I know they are toxic for me, fail.I’m trying to snip the chord but still I feel so attached to this person! After all my efforts my mind convinces me that he has changed and that maybe he isn’t so bad, that maybe I can handle who he is. This back and forth is agonizing. Once I free myself from this I pray I never find myself here again.

  49. I agree totally with what's said in this video. I was with a person that I wanted to change, but for the good, not only to meet my needings. It turned out too heavy for me, it kinda destroyed my streght. Without him I feel better with my self, even thought I miss him.

  50. We actually change all the time, it's just hard to notice because it happens gradually and the sheer amount of tiny habits and patterns of thinking, acting and feeling would be impossible to catalogue without spending all the time observing and taking notes. And even if we did the list would already need updating mid-work

  51. But what about the change society need for people less to consume and spend all ressources they have whenever they get some, in order to face climate change ?

  52. My question is can we really change ourselves ? Many people wrongly believe that they have managed to « fix » themselves. Circumstances, trauma, time, relationships etc can really have an impact on you but can you really willfully change yourself ? Isn’t the mere belief that you have successfully crafted yourself into a new person going to hinder precisely that ?

  53. LONG *BUT PLEASE READ: Can you do a video on more complicated mixtures of issues in society that some individuals and groups can face… In this case religion placing shame on sex then keeping someone from using a doctor or therapist by communal expectations (christian science) to then understand their mild OCD keeping them from ever understanding why they could not (*IMPORTANT: This channel has been one of the few reasons helping keep me alive. Thank you.)… receive or understand the help they would need to ever have a relationship by their 30s. *More succinctly: having learned too many hard lessons without understanding or knowing there was a consequence and mixing the normal consequences we all experience in life that are just a part of the phases and experiences of life. **It would also be SO cool to have a series where certain thinks could be suggested as links then your channel advise links to certain things so that anyone could follow along by finding a sort of CHOOSE YOUR OWN STORY where you can click through and find the next video combines in the sequence you choose the issues that are more common to you? Lot of work, but could maybe save more youth from suicide. So much is changing today and without understanding and the sickening lack of vulnerability in the world kids, teens, college-age and 30's are giving up and finding too much pressure from links like: social media – anxiety – vulnerability – living in areas without the normal constructs for help – having an abusive home life – not feeling beautiful – being mildly bullied by many – many not knowing or being accountable for their effect on someone else – etc. That is all…

  54. These days I am on a journey on changing certain things about myself, I know how difficult it is to change. It is like I take 2 steps ahead and go back 1 step the next day.

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