An age-old question in life is: can people really change? Can a bad guy become a good guy or can a true jerk become a nice person? While I try to be optimistic about redemption and fresh starts, my experience is that most people are pretty much who they are by the time they are 25 or 30 years old. That being said, I do believe that people can make transformations in their lives. But these transformations, if they are legit, are usually motivated by one thing:
A major crisis.
In order for a person to truly change, something big has to happen. I am reading Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Here is a quote that will let you in on his thesis: “first, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future” (loc 454).
(the “habit loop”)
Duhigg says that if we are going to change a habit or behavior, we must first change the reward. If the payoff is big enough, we will change. So crisis may not be a tragedy. Crisis is simply a point of experience that motivates us to do something different.
If you are a 40 year-old male who is still addicted to porn, you haven’t yet experienced a moment of true crisis. If you are a 50 year-old female who has no real friends, you have not yet reached the crossroads necessary in order to make real change.
I am praying that we can all create our own personal crisis that is required for us to engage in real change. If we don’t we may be doomed to being who we are. While we may not be all that bad, the idea of no positive change is depressing.
Jeremiah 13:23 asks, “Can a leopard change its spots?” I don’t think so.
But I do think we can change – if we want to badly enough.
2 Replies to “can a person really change?”
Yes I think we can change. I think that is at the core of human nature and devine potential. I’m excited to read this book, The Power of Habit, in my book group @12books in October.
Yeap, mine came when my Dad passed away. Only, I could have took another wrong turn, but I remained by my dad’s side until the end of his life which was extended then taken by God’s mercy. Of course, God saw this coming and used it for my good and His Glory. In that difficult time, I choose to put my faith in Christ. I was in a spot where I wasn’t going to run the other way like I had done so many times before. In James chapter 1, God says He gives us wisdom if we ask and don’t doubt. I’ve learned that not doubting means remaining under your trails, standing firm, be strong, act like a man, like Paul tells us in 1 Cornthians 16. If we want to change we have to stand firm in what we’ve been taught, ask God for wisdom, not doubt because faith is the power switch! It ignites the Spirit though the Word of God like lightening though steel. Agreed. Most of us need a crisis where we come to the end of ourselves so we surrender and put our faith in Christ.