I posted a video a while back reflecting on change (which can be found publicly posted on the DG the 30 Something Facebook Page). The response was varied, but generally people took it very personally and solely with regard to romantic relationships. That response and many conversations I’ve had following posting of that video, I felt the need to expand. Those who know me know I've spent half my life studying human behavior and take special interest in how people process feelings, community, and resiliency. This blog will reflect and distinguish different types of change as I feel we commonly misconstrue our assumptions of change and how people change.
Behavior (Noun): Observable activity in a human or animal; And for the science buffs, the aggregate of responses to internal and external stimuli.
I start here because I believe this to be the "easiest" thing to change (I am excluding for the sake of this blog those who have various impairments that may affect behavior and the like). When I say it is easy I don't mean it is necessarily easy for individuals to change their behaviors; however it would appear that a course of decisions could lead to behavior change. There are in fact a myriad of professionals trained in how to help change other people's behavior. People will often get up in arms when I say I specialize in behavior change marketing, but the truth is, I do. Because I have this history studying human behavior, which is of course ever changing, I intimately understand how messaging affects people's choices and behaviors. I use this skill for good, but many others do not.
Back to on point, we rarely recognize behavior change, no matter how extreme, with enough regard. This is the most likely area people will change. Part of the purpose of my original video was to encourage people to support this change instead of assume people will never change, but things do get complicated with regard to our understanding of others.
Personality (Noun): the visible aspect of one's character as it impresses others; a person as an embodiment of a collection of qualities; the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual.
I would argue personality change is more rare; however this is how I feel most people I talk to define change. We expect people to transform their personality. Of course even within constructs like the Myers Briggs personality test we see variance as people age or gain different experiences, but I am happy to open the debate about how significant this change is. I certainly have had a slightly varied personality, but also staggered between INTG and ENTG on the Myers Briggs over the last 10 years since I took it the first time. Also, some people (including myself) can manipulate results if they so chose. Error aside, expecting people to dramatically change their personality is an interesting suggestion. I am the product of major transformations, but can't say I find it to be "common," so for me it constantly begs the question, where do we leave our exceptions if anywhere?
Character (Noun): the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing; moral or ethical quality.
Now things are getting good! Oh character change, is there such a thing as character change? If personality change is rare, character change might be almost impossible. I consider character to be a more innate set of code guiding us through life. While environment does play a part, character change arguably would take a significant and/or a catastrophic occurrence. I believe it's possible, but this type of change is extreme and palpable. My character has never changed. My core set of moral and ethical code has remained the same. Again, I think people send themselves down tangents where they believe they can change people's characters.
Let me say that people can PLAY different characters and those who lean toward the more manipulative side of the scale can be deceptive. Others may have a distinctive disconnect from their true character. It is always easy to recognize a genuine person expressing their character and I would argue it is equally easy to recognize when the average person is PLAYING a character.
Perhaps simply defining these words helped provide myself with clarity, but the distinction was important to share. I believe we expect people to change in significant ways when really most will never change their behaviors, let alone their personality or character. HOWEVER this does not shadow the, even seemingly small changes people make. That being said, I still strongly believe in the belief that all people CAN change. It doesn't mean that they will, but they CAN. Perhaps this is my belief because the line of work i'm in and the major transformations I've seen, but this believe will never falter. I've said it once and will say it again, but we need to be more kind to eachother. Listen to listen not respond, see, hear, and believe.
Being a highly sensitive empath my entire life has been a struggle. I have always been highly sensitive to other people's auras and energies; however when I hit my teen years I didn't want to feel it anymore. I shut down for years. I imagine myself as this teenager in the corner with my hands over my ears in the fetal position because that is how I felt on the inside. On the outside I was tough," bitchy," and downright aggressive at times because I didn't know how else to shelter myself from the swirling energies around me.
Luckily in adulthood I have opened back up and learned how to manage how I respond to other people's energies. Sometimes I do fail to properly take care of myself in the process, sending myself down a steep sink hole. So yes I am not perfect and not preaching here in any way. I also realize not everyone is going to have the same intuitive make-up and that is just fine, but there is something to be said about learning how to understand other people's emotions (emotional intelligence).
Part of why I taped the original video and felt the need to expand is reflecting on a recent burnout that I didn't adequately come back from because in the face of adversity. It is difficult living in this time in such a cynical world, but I always encourage everyone to keep their heart open. Academics and definitions aside we can all make change and most importantly impact other people's lives.