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Can a person really change?

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

I haven't changed, I've just understood what's important to me...

As you've probably realised a lot of the inspiration for my blog posts have come from my travels or adventures. Today's post is no different as we look at the question "Can a person really change?". Those close to me have constantly told me over the last 18 months how much I've changed since coming back from my travels to the extent that there is now an in-joke amongst my friends to name my actions or reactions as either "pre-travel" or "post-travel". I’ve no doubt that I feel different, that I’ve in some ways evolved but before diving into the question from a larger perspective I would like us to look at both what defines a person and what exactly does change mean?

If we agree that a person is both a physical and spiritual being and that change is an act or process through which something becomes different then it seems that there are many types of potential change that we can discuss!

I'm assuming we're all agreed that physical change is absolutely possible or even inevitable. We can gain or loose weight, change our hair colour, have plastic surgery and then whether we like it or not watch our bodies evolve with time as we grow older.

When it comes down to the spiritual dimension of us as individuals I'd like to look at two things: - the first, maybe slightly deeper dimension, of "what makes us us?" - the second, maybe less deeper but equally as important, of how our habits and routines define us.

So what makes us us? What makes you different from me? What makes each and everyone of us different from every other person on this planet? Other than the obvious biological, scientific answer for which I am not qualified to discuss, there is something for me about us each having our own distinct soul or spirit, however you want to call it. Regardless of any link or mention of religion our soul is for me what defines us. It's what makes me me and you you. In my mind our soul is formed by a multitude of elements; our cultural, religious, geographical and economic backgrounds, our families and friends and maybe most importantly our values, our drive, our desires.

And so, can we change any of these elements? Our background, where we are from, what our family is like, what means we have are pretty much a given early on in life but of course they can evolve later on in life. When it comes to values, drive, desire these are the things that are the hardest to define and also the hardest to change. However, in the end someone that is connected to their values will evolve throughout their life ensuring their actions are connected and in harmony with their soul or spirit. In my own personal situation my travels helped me connect or even reconnect to my values and focus on what was and is important to me, thus leading to a change in certain choices.

And what about our habits and routines? How can changing them change us? Whereas changing our attitude or approach to how we live in relationship to our values can fundamentally change us, my initial thought is that changing habits or routines will only change the surface or what we show to others but not what goes on deep inside us. For example getting up at 5am everyday to go for a run, meditate, do yoga, whatever it may be, will only change a person on a deeper level if it is linked to a deeper meaning; an intention of wanting to make the most of life, take care of your body, etc. Although changing our habits can also lead us to a better understanding of our deeper selves too by giving us a new perspective, another option than that which we might feel stuck or trapped with.


So yes, for me a person can absolutely change although I prefer the word evolve as change seems almost to imply that the past is forgotten but the past (however much it may make us cringe at times) is also what got us to where we are today. Evolution is not only possible but necessary for all of us and even if real, lasting, true to yourself change requires putting in the necessary time, energy and intent it it’s worth every second for the awakening that it brings.

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "The only constant is change" and for me the real question is simply whether we decide to embrace it, fight it, learn from it, grow with it, etc.

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