Article in brief: Mustafa Abbas asks the one question that everyone would like the answer to: Do People Change?
Do people change? This is a question that baffles many of us. And in most cases, each person has his or her own view on the subject.
This is simply my perspective.
When bad things happen to us, we often blame it on the event or the chain of events to justify the wrong that we are doing, or the person we have become. This, actually, is known as “secondary gain”. Which basically means, that yes, we were wronged, but are also using it to our advantage. This is the worst kind of forgiveness. Where the one who was wronged, might have forgiven but not forgotten. Two wrongs indeed don’t make a right.
Bad things happen to everyone, no exceptions. And human beings in most cases don’t act, but react.
So, when this bad thing happened, how did you react? Did you become stronger? Did you weaken? Did you remain grateful because it could have been worse? Or did you say to hell with everyone?
Psychology and human nature are both passions of mine. And from what I have seen, from my personal observations, I have come to the conclusion that nobody can take on life. No one can say “life was bad to me, so I’ll retaliate” and get away with it. Life was there long before each and every one of us, and it’s grown stronger, wiser, and more powerful with time.
I like to call it fear of God. Others might call it something else.
I’ve also learnt that we can never control how people act, but we can control how we react. And if we are in control of our reactions, we are in control of the situation. Reacting determines who we are. Seldom acting.
So back to my question, do people change, or just become a more complete version of themselves?
“He’s gone through a lot in his life” is usually said to someone who has lost his way. “Her parents were bad to her”, or “He was bullied” are some other examples.
I’m not sure if these are excuses to justify their actions, or sympathetic statements. I personally know of people who have been attacked physically and emotionally, lost their parents at a young age, and have come out stronger and better. At times, even calmer. There hasn’t been a moment where anyone I know personally has come to me and claimed these people are “weird” or “defensive”. On the contrary, I’ve only heard praises. Not said out of pity, because the ones paying the compliment don’t know the history. Sure, people like them might be exceptions. I suppose there is a reason we say “quality versus quantity”.
Many traits are genetic, and many are passed on and taught. Beliefs, morals, values, cultural conditioning, etc. All these things play a big part in who we become. But in my opinion, when it comes to attitude, it’s each person for themselves. We work on our attitude individually. It starts minimally, and grows according to where we want to go and who we want to become.
Another thing people seem to underestimate or misunderstand from what I’ve seen is who our partner is. By partner I mean spouse, lover, or even best friend sometimes. Two partners after a certain period of time will start to behave alike, speak alike, and possibly even think alike. They are not necessarily changing, but as I said becoming the person they are supposed to be, or perhaps evolving. But what if one partner is dominating and continues acting in a way that makes the other partner bitter and loses a taste for life?
Then what? Well, it goes back to what we discussed earlier, human beings in most cases don’t act, but react. Who our partner is plays a big part in who we become, as well as how we feel, treat people, and look at life. So choose wisely.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, someone I admire deeply, said: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you is the greatest accomplishment.” Or dare I ask… a minimal requirement?
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