Is it possible to change? Is transformation attainable?
It’s tempting to want to be definitive in our answer. We are quick to default to dualistic, black or white thinking. We take sides; we’re either in the Yes or the No camp.
But, like many things in life, the essence is found in the grey; in between the Yes or the No.
There are plenty of ways in which, I could argue, I have changed.
I’m slightly less prone to yell at my kids when they are annoying the hell out of me.
That person who gets annoyed though? Still there. Just a little better (sometimes) at reining in the expression of that annoyance.
Is that change? Perhaps. Transformation? Probably not.
I’ve often pondered the life of the first century radical thinker and activist known, originally, as Saul of Tarsus and, later, as Paul the Apostle. One minute he was persecuting Christians, the next he’s Christ’s biggest advocate. Transformation if ever you saw it, right?
If you look at little closer though, you realise that who he is, his core personality, is unchanged. The focus of how he uses his personality has changed, but the passionate, somewhat arrogant revolutionary is still a passionate, somewhat arrogant revolutionary – just with a different cause.
Perhaps we need to worry less about changing who we are and give more attention to what we devote our time and energy to.
The problem with this whole subject is that we can all have something different in mind while thinking we’re talking about the same thing. Are we talking about forming a new habit, or changing who we are? Is our attention on incremental changes, or life upheaval and turnaround?
Having clarity about what we mean is a starting point.
But before we make ‘total transformation’ our goal, as I’ve alluded to, might we be better off accepting ourselves for who we are, at our core?
There are plenty of ways that I’ve improved as a person over the years. At the heart of everything though, I’m still me. There are certain behaviours and habits that I’ve changed, but I remain who I am and who I’ve always been. I’ve changed course plenty of times, but it was still me doing that course change.
It’s taken a while, but I think I’m finally learning to be okay with that.
If this hasn’t already become clear, I’m not saying that isn’t plenty that we can change. We can make transformative decisions. We can leave behind harmful ways of living. We can make better choices. We can improve. We can become more fully connected the our true selves. It’s just that the person doing all those things will still be there.
We can’t escape who we are. Far better to accept who we are and give our time and energy to changing what we can change.
Thanks for reading,