I know the angle you’re expecting me to take here just moments before our resolutions for the next year are set to start. But I’m not doing that today. Instead of talking about making concrete changes in the things you do we’re going deeper and thinking about if people can change overall. You might be surprised to learn that most psychologists don’t really think people can change in big ways. They often say once your personality forms that’s pretty much it. That’s depressing but is it really even true? Just for the record I’m currently upset at no one in particular so this is actually salt free for the moment.
I was thinking about resolutions and those that I’ve been successful with over the years. I was wondering if that means I’ve changed as a person as I was laying there not sleeping as I’ve done since at least 7 (my mom would probably say longer). On one hand all the habits I’ve broken were a big deal, how I spend my time and my job is completely different. On the other hand I was still a person who lays awake, I still don’t feel like my default position about feelings is sharing them and talking too much is. Sure I don’t drink, smoke or bite my nails anymore but does that mean I’m a different person?
What does it even mean to be a different person. I don’t think that the experts are wrong by the way. While I do think I changed a lot in my very early 20’s I’m not sure I’ve done a whole lot of it since then. Changing certain things like your mental health or career seem like pretty big changes but does it really make you a different person? However, I really do think that that people can make some really big changes but I’m not sure it’s all that common.
I value different things now than I used to that’s for sure! Lots of people do as they age though but some of my weirder convictions like not wanting kids have been rock solid since puberty at least. But here’s where we start going somewhere, I’m not sure it really matters if you can or do change enough that you’re basically a different person. Some of our best and worst traits are probably constant throughout our lives and others change quite a bit. Technically if you trade a bunch of terrible habits and patterns for much better ones you’re only changing how you spend your time. But… how you spend your time might matter just as much as the person that you are. If you treat people better because you value that more now you’re still treating people better no matter which person you are.
At this time of year there’s a lot of pressure to emerge in about May as a totally different person. After last year that pressure might even be more intense this year. Don’t buy into that, positive changes are always just that, positive. Let go of the notion you’ll feel like a totally different person because the truth is you probably won’t. But those changes can still be great overall. Let go of transforming yourself into a different version of you and just focus on being a better you. That’s more than enough!