Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why People Don't Change

You often hear that "people don't change," but then you hear married couples accuse each other of changing - so how is that possible?

This blog posting is NOT about whether or not people CAN change, but rather if they do. It's not that married couples exchange vows and gradually become different people as a result; marriage provides a unique platform and unfiltered lens that enables couples to see each other as they truly are. So marriage doesn't change people; it changes the realistic light in which people are seen.

That's when problems typically arise. Any marriage counselor will tell you that the greatest challenge in couples counseling is getting husbands and wives to agree on what the divisive problems in the marriage are. After all, you can't change what you can't acknowledge.

This creates an inextricable link between change and problems; primarily that if one does not see a problem, one is less likely to admit that there is a need to change.

Change (or rather the need to change) is associated with perceived personality or behavioral problems within individuals, which may impact their ability to successfully relate to, connect with, or sustain relationships. Or they engage in behaviors that can potentially endanger themselves or others.

We say such individuals need to change.

But will they? It depends on three things:. 1. Their developmental plasticity (a person's inborn ability to adapt to changing circumstances, contexts, and environments. Developmental plasticity determines - and often limits - the potential for initiating and maintaining behavioral, attitudinal, and habitual alterations) 2. They possess self-awareness that catalyzes change, and 3. They have incentives to motivate them to change.

And when does change occur? When the benefits associated with the behavior or attitude are nullified. In other words, when they no longer serve the individual. That's when people can change. Of course, whether or not they do so (or recognize the need) is another matter.

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