We really don’t change much th

We really don’t change much th

We really don’t change much throughout our lifetime

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – was once quoted by Viktor Frankl, the Austrian Psychologist, author ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ and the survivor of the holocaust. He further explained in his book that

‘What I have found in my research is that we have different layers to our personality. And there is a core personality that is the most difficult and rare to change till something really traumatic; like war, holocaust, loss of someone very close to us, drastic change in our lifestyle due to external factors; happens to us’.

Each one of us must have noticed that people find it extremely difficult to change their basic temperament, mindset, and other characteristics of core personality during the course of time.

Unless there is some drastic turn of events in one’s life, due to the death of a very close one, traumatic experience, deep emotional setback, major financial loss, or some serious eventuality, there is a little change in one’s personality.

When we meet someone closer after years, there may have been changes in her/his physical appearance but once we start interacting then we find nothing much has changed.

Our basic nature remains more or less the same. We also call it core personality. Each one of us possesses a unique personality, having a combination of characteristics or qualities. These qualities make us distinct from others. It is a product of social interaction.

We really don’t change much throughout our lifetime

The question now arises why we don’t change during the course of time. There may be many plausible explanations but here 4 important reasons are being highlighted, explaining why we hardly make attempts to change ourselves:

1.  We are social animals and love to stay in our comfort zone. We all construct our ‘comforts’ and tend to live there. Till we are disturbed or the external situations are such that we need to do something, we do not want to step out of our comfort area. There is an unknown fear in us against the potential change.

Due to negativity bias, we think more about the negative impact of likely change, rather than positive changes that may come with the change. Within the comfort zone, we may be earning our livelihood, comfortable living, fixed routine, having a set of ‘good friends and lovely family. And if something disrupts it, we feel extremely uncomfortable and we react sharply if we are forced to get out of our comfort zone. Thus, we often end up missing opportunities that may have come across, if we had accepted the change gracefully. 

2. All of us have a robust belief system, created over time. The process begins in early childhood when our parents start teaching the child about the world. Then the process goes on and the child keeps on assimilating various beliefs about everything about the surrounding environment.

As time passes, the child nurtures beliefs of all kinds – positive, negative, regressive, and progressive ones. We have been raised in this society with mental conditioning and our thoughts are accordingly molded. We develop fixed perceptions and our reactions are determined. We behave and act accordingly.

All this conditioning had taken place during our early childhood period. Parents were instrumental in forming our belief system and also mental conditioning and habitual behavior.

Rest is the work of education and our teachers and peer circle. In the initial years of our life, these are formed in concrete that is then really difficult to change or to move on from. Well, when someone tries to defy our beliefs, we tend to defend them.

In that go defending those ideas we unknowingly make them more rigid and confirm the truth of them thus more difficult to change or even to accept the need of the change. 

3. Most people tend to ignore their flaws or the weaknesses that they have. As we have generally an inflated image of ‘self’ that we do not want to get hurt. A large number of people have a tendency to think of themselves as ‘above average, better than others. Some others genuinely feel that others are bad, inadequate, and even inferior to them. 

Since we all have the desire to become superior at least in certain aspects. It’s a part of human nature. In order to preserve that image, we try to blame others or the environment if something goes wrong, rather than blaming ourselves.

When we commit any mistake or error, we try to rationalize what we did. We want to keep our self-image intact and keep satisfying ourselves by blaming the external factors rather than looking inside and find fault. This very attribute of our personality resists changing ourselves. 

4.  Even if we want to change our habits and get out of certain patterns, it’s not an easy task.  We need tremendous will power or determination to harness our minds. And by changing those, we keep referring to them as if we have changed ourselves. But those are just a few patterns of our life.

Our habitual behavior is hardwired in our brain. Whenever we experience something for the first time, new neural connections are formed. Later, when we repeat the same thing, those neural connections get hardwired. This is the reason that we feel great difficulty in changing habitual behavior or pattern.

These are the reasons that we generally don’t change. To change, a lot of energy and effort is required and that we try to avoid unless it’s very essential for us. Here comes our willpower or determination to change. The first and the foremost thing that’s required to bring about positive changes in us is our self-awareness.

Self-awareness is the ability to focus on ourselves and how our actions, thoughts, or emotions affect ourselves and others around us. Not only we should thoroughly know about ourselves but also know, how others perceive us. It’s about knowing how we behave under different circumstances.

How do we think, act, and react in various situations of life? What kind of thoughts and feelings we are experiencing every moment? If we are self-aware, then we know all these things about ourselves. We are always very confident that we know all about ourselves but unfortunately that’s not the case.

Our attention doesn’t go to this site. Once we are self-aware, conscious about our actions, behavior, and thought processes, we can start living mindfully. With mindful living, we can surely bring about desirable changes in our core personality.

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Balvinder kumar

I am retired IAS officer and writer of books and doing work for mind therapy.

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Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis das ist wirklich iste natus.