A good friend of mine recently said, “I need to find a way to go back to my old self”. I’m sure at some point, many of us have also uttered similar words or thought along those lines…missing your ‘old self’, wanting to bring a part of ‘old me’ back to life, or something like that. Or maybe it's the reverse, wanting to forget and rid your life of an older version of you.
My natural and almost instantaneous reaction to this is to ask, “Which version?” This is then followed by another age-old question, “Can (and do) people really change?” I imagine that psychologists / therapists would have to say that change is possible. Their career, after all, hinges on this belief. However, they also admit that a person’s ability to change is a function of the person’s motivation and sense of commitment. Interestingly, these are personality factors that I think are not easily changed. You can change if you are motivated to change, and become committed to that change, but if your personality dictates that you are naturally unmotivated or not easily motivated, or you are afraid of commitment, then change won’t come so easily, if at all possible.
It’s also a scientific fact that our brains are more inclined to resist changes and prefer repetition. It’s simply part of our nature to seek the familiar. This is also why as we age, change becomes more difficult.
This has forced me to think of my own life and ask how much I’ve really changed through the years.
I'm a bit less shy now than before....only a little bit. But my natural tendency to avoid unplanned for, or unpredictable social situations, remains strong.
I am now more able to sift through things, to discriminate which ones are really worth worrying over. But I think I'm still a worrier by nature.
I have learned to care less about what others think or say about me. But I still care. And when something affects me, I still do get sleepless nights thinking about it.
And as my blog site profile says, there are just certain things about me that I don't think will ever change, nor would I want them to. I feel that I will perpetually be a dreamer, hopeless romantic and over-analyzer. I'm also quite certain that I will always be intense, though I now choose more carefully how I appropriate such an intensity.
This thought of the 'old self' and one's capacity for self-change or transformation also got me thinking of those I’ve known for a long time and wonder if change has been possible for them.
A guy I knew in college who was a conceited a**hole is, sadly, still a topnotch a**hole. Not much changed there, although admittedly, I now choose to stay away from him so I can't claim to truly know him at this point.
I know someone who has had a long history of lying and that person is still the same, still making up stories about people in order to either elevate herself, or for sheer entertainment. (Honestly, I think she seriously needs medical help. Pathological lying can be treated after all.)
Then there are those 'bullies' from high school (not that I got bullied) who enjoyed torturing, alienating, and intimidating others and sadly, I still hear that they have not changed much.
As I've always said, "Never underestimate people's capacity to resist change." Or maybe Change got tired of them and moved on. Possibly.
What about you? Do you sometimes find yourself wishing to be re-acquainted with your 'old self'? And in what ways do you think have you changed through the years?