Can People Change When It's So Difficult to Change?

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  • 24 Nov 2023
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When it comes to transformation, hoping is not a plan. Commitment is required to effect meaningful change. People can they change? Absolutely, but in order to get started, you must exchange your excuses for dedication.

Human nature pulls toward habits, which can become ingrained with time, but habits cannot be undone.

What Impacts People’s Ability to Change?

Breaking bad habits can be incredibly difficult, especially if the person has been doing it for a long period.

Your support system is the most essential factor influencing your ability to change. You can walk the path to change for the better more readily with the help of supportive friends, family members, and experts who give medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Even if you make mistakes, these individuals will remind you that your efforts were not in vain.

Aside from having a solid support system, you must also have a strong sense of personal accountability. You can quickly notice negative behavior patterns if you hold yourself accountable. It will also keep you focused on your goal and in control of your activities.

Conscious awareness is absolutely necessary for your mental wellness. Surround yourself with like-minded people as much as possible if you want to create long-term change.

So, are people capable of changing?

Can People Really Change?

You're undoubtedly wondering if people can change before going through treatment. The quick answer is yes. People can, in fact, change. Change, on the other hand, necessitates effort and an openness to new experiences.

Millions of success stories of people overcoming unhealthy habits and turning their lives around exist. However, telling yourself or a loved one to change immediately will not help.

Change that lasts takes time and commitment. It also requires investigating the various causes of your undesirable behavior.

Once you've made the decision to change, keep in mind that the road ahead is not straight. It is still possible to revert to previous behaviors, but the essential thing is to identify when this occurs and commit to maintaining your efforts.


Why Changing Can Be So Difficult?


Our well-worn habits and actions are the product of our previous experiences and decisions.

We may have seen, heard, or felt something that led us to form an opinion about ourselves and the world. Some of the most limiting beliefs we develop between the ages of 0 and 7.

To some extent, all beliefs serve us well. However, when we desire to grow or evolve, they begin to confine us.

This is due to the fact that our ideas drive our actions. When we try to embrace a new habit to drive change, our beliefs get in the way.

Our unconscious mind normally guides our conduct through our belief system. This implies we are oblivious of it and can easily revert to our previous habits.

This has even been described as a feeling of being blocked. They know what they should do, but they do the opposite.

The most straightforward example is weight loss. If you unknowingly believe you are "not good enough," you may choose a piece of cake over a piece of fresh fruit when you go to the fridge. This reinforces the belief and keeps you in your comfort zone when it comes to health-related habits.

Taking this belief into the workplace, you may choose to spend your time on social media rather than making those follow-up calls. Again, this keeps you secure by avoiding any rejection where that belief may be exposed.

Consciousness is the key to change here: becoming aware of any limiting beliefs you may have and making a conscious decision to change them.


There are also the unclear concepts known as fundamental values. These are infused with a wide variety of beliefs.

Our values are the things that matter to us. They are our "why" for being and doing what we do.

A recent study discovered a significant link between basic values and self-control, stating:

“[I]t is possible that expressing one's core values facilitates self-control regardless of the construal level at which values are expressed.”

Furthermore, the study discovered that asserting basic values counteracted ego depletion, resulting in a more complete sense of self.

It's simple to understand how this could affect one's capacity to work on effective habit modification. Your potential to change grows dramatically as you gain greater self-control and a more thorough understanding of who you are as a person.

Core values, the majority of the time, work on an unconscious level, influencing whatever action we make automatically. According to the research, making them apparent through positive affirmations influences our decisions in a more obvious, positive way.

Using the weight loss example from earlier, assume you cherished a sense of belonging, which caused you to be concerned about being among people who act similarly to you. Having a glass of water with friends may make you feel like an outsider. As a result, you opt for a glass of wine instead.

In the workplace, perhaps you value help and being available to those in need. You want to accomplish more, but someone needs your assistance, and you choose their request before making those necessary calls.

The goal here is to be aware and to concentrate on raising consciousness. Remember that our values reside in our unconscious, and few people fully comprehend them.

Becoming aware of your values and the belief system that underpins them will assist you in determining what needs to change internally. Making those internal changes will affect your behavior.


Elliot Berkman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, refers to this as your "Will." It's not so much about willpower as it is about "the motivation and emotional aspects of behavior change."

It's about understanding your "why" for change and why it's important to you particularly.

You believe it is a good idea for you because a friend has done it. Or you believe it is something you should or must do. Maybe you're doing it because someone else wants or has asked you to.

Doing it for someone else can result in what I refer to as the see-saw, stop-and-start effect. You begin motivated, then lose interest and stop. You see their disappointment, and you restart.

If you haven't personally connected to your "why," your motivation will quickly fade, and you'll sabotage your efforts to succeed.

Knowing why you want the change and why it is vital to you right now will energize you. It is important to link your desire for change to your values so that you can emotionally relate to it.


Dr. Soph, a clinical psychologist, specializes in making neuroscience simple and easy to understand. She refers to taking the path of least resistance as "homeostasis," which means maintaining the status quo.

It's all about staying within our comfort zone, where we feel comfortable and secure and can get by without expending too much energy.

She puts it this way: “When your brain is repeating a habit (the feeling of 'running on autopilot') it doesn't need to use much energy because it doesn't have to engage the prefrontal cortex.”

She compares this procedure to forging a new path in a field. It is always easier to walk across a path that has already been used.

Starting a new route in a field of thick grass is far more difficult and requires far more desire and energy. Most people will automatically take the beaten road.

It is the same with any change, and for those of us who prefer the sameness, making those new relationships will be difficult.

This is most likely where the 21-day rule comes into play, though 90 days may be more practical if we're talking about long-term, sustainable transformation. During those three months, our unconscious mind is constantly attempting to restore us to our former neural connections.

It's similar to riding a sled down a snow slope. The sled's track will be substantially deeper and more firm after repeated use. In that track, the sled is stable. It will take time to wear in a new track, and the sled will want to deviate back to the old one until the snow becomes bedded down.

Again, conscious awareness is critical. Remind yourself that you are integrating the new neuronal connection. Be conscious of when you want to return to the old path and steer yourself away from it.



Another reason we may find it difficult to change our behavior patterns is that we are hard wired to imitate. This is due to a small network of cells in the brain known as mirror neurons.

According to neuroscientist Marco Lacoboni,

“The way mirror neurons likely let us understand others is by providing some kind of inner imitation of the actions of other people, which in turn leads us to “simulate” the intentions and emotions associated with those actions.”

These neurons are ultimately responsible for socialization. In reality, they are the neurons that aid in the development of our social skills. When we grin, we activate the same neurons that cause an infant to smile. This may explain why we frequently get in our own way.

Our brains may lose focus on specific adjustments we want to make to be different while striving to fit in with a specific social group through imitation.

We are more prone to revert if we have a close group of friends or loved ones who have behaviors that can undermine our improvement. That is why, if we want to quit smoking but our partner still smokes, it can be quite difficult to stay committed.

How to Start to Make the Change You Want


You're probably aware of something you'd like to change if you're reading this. That's fantastic! The first step toward change is admitting that you need to change something.

Examine the recurring challenges in your life, the issues that appear to crop up repeatedly. Do you continuously gravitating toward the wrong individuals, but you blame them rather than looking at your mistake in the selecting process?

Do you bounce from one job to the next, blaming coworkers and managers rather than examining what you may be doing to produce problems and dissatisfaction at work?

Because we are creatures of habit, consider the bad patterns in our lives. Then look within to determine what is generating these recurring life challenges.

If you can't sort things out on your own, consider seeking help from a counselor. Once you've identified the area that needs to be improved, you can go to the following stage.


There are those who claim that personality qualities cannot be changed. When presented with a problem, such as persistent negativity, they respond, "that's just who I am." It's who you are, but does it have to be?

Personality traits and behavioral habits can change. Nobody stays the same from year to year, let alone decade to decade, so why not steer change in the greatest path for you?

Be proactive in bringing about the change you desire in your life, including the belief that change is possible.

Look for success stories and people who have transformed and accomplished what you so desperately want to do. Seeing that others have been where you are and have succeeded



People must accept the assumption that change is important for their development in order to change. For example, perhaps you want to be more productive at work.

Making a list of the benefits that the change will bring to your life is one of the finest techniques to help yourself stay to the commitment of change. Make two lists: one for yourself and one for your loved ones.

Recognizing the whole range of benefits, including how your change will influence those closest to you, will assist you in sticking with the change process.

When you experience moments of weakness or fail on a particular day or time, reviewing your list on a regular basis makes it easier to get back on track.

Posting your "benefits of change" list somewhere you will see it frequently, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you remember why you are making the change.



Make a commitment to the time frame required for change to occur. If you want to lose 50 pounds, create a realistic strategy that includes a few pounds every week and a schedule that matches those goals.

It will take much longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stay on track. One day at a time, change occurs. It does not happen overnight, but over time as a result of your devotion and commitment to the process.

Make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

A person who wishes to become an active runner in order to complete a half marathon is an example of this. The first step would be to look at what other people have done in terms of training routines to accomplish this aim.

Runners World details how a newbie can train for a half marathon:

"Target the Long Run: Increase your long run by 1.5 miles every other week until you're running/walking 13 to 14 miles."

Keep your lengthy run to no more than three miles every other week. Two weeks before your half-marathon, schedule your longest long run. Plan on spending roughly 15 weeks preparing for the big day."


To succeed, you must establish a series of steps. This is why 12-step programs are so popular. You can't just stroll into a meeting and expect to be cured and changed. In order for the change to be long-lasting and successful, you must mentally comprehend it.

Make a strategy for your change. Be practical and look at what other individuals have done to affect change.

For example, if you have anxiety and want to change it, seek out therapeutic ways to address your issue. Maintain your therapy schedule until your transition process is complete. It is not enough to simply hope that the uneasiness will go gone.


It's great to establish a goal for change and write it down, but if you don't act, your mental commitment is meaningless. There is no true commitment unless action is taken.

The key to kicking off our change is to act today.

For example, if you committed to losing 50 pounds, now is the time to join a gym, hire a trainer, and visit a weight loss clinic for assistance.

We can make the decision to change, but if action does not follow soon after, we will most likely fail.

If you wait until later that week, you will become distracted by your daily routine, work-related tasks, caring for others, or whatever; there will be distractions that will prevent you from taking action later. There is no better time to act than the moment you decide to change.

For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book you've been thinking about but don't have a working laptop, go out and acquire one right away. Then, each day after work (and in your schedule), set aside one hour to write.

Instead of going out with friends after work, you have made the commitment to attain your objective, and you have the time to do so.



Finding a support system is critical for people who desire to change. Group therapy or support groups are excellent places to obtain help.

If you have a substance abuse problem, for example, you can discover support groups that specialize in guiding you through the process of rehabilitation and change.

If you want to find assistance in the privacy of your own home, seek for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with the change you want to make.

Your ability to succeed in change is contingent on your ability to dive in; support systems assist you with the initial dive and subsequent commitment. and will assist you in remaining dedicated to the process.

Don't underestimate the influence you can have by collaborating with others who want the same thing.


Change should be unpleasant. You're venturing into unfamiliar land and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Because the change is uncomfortable and challenging, your mind and prior habits will be resistant to it.

If you give up because you are uncomfortable, you will fail in your pursuit of change. Accept the discomfort that comes with change and acknowledge that it brings you one step closer to your goals.


It is tough for people to keep to their resolve to change. Don't berate yourself if you stray off track with your plans. Instead, give yourself some leeway and then get back on track.

You can't expect to stick to a diet without occasionally splurging. The important phrase is "sometimes." The sooner you get back on track, the better your chances of achieving your transformation objectives.


Reflect on previous derailments and problem solve them before they happen again.

Make a list of the things that tend to get you off track. Now, make a list of measures to prevent derailments from occurring. For example, if you want to reduce weight but work late nights, commit to morning workouts.

If you know you have a habit of hitting the snooze button and thus missing workouts, engage a trainer for early morning sessions. You are less likely to skip your workout if there is actual money at stake and someone is waiting on you to show up.

You might also schedule morning exercises with a friend so you know someone is expecting you and don't want to disappoint them.

Brainstorm solutions to previous derailments so that this time you are prepared to stick to the plan and your commitment to change.


When it comes to transformation, commitment is a daily mental and physical struggle. If your goal is to lose weight, be precise about how you intend to do this. For example, suppose you decide to consume 1,800 calories a day and exercise for one hour every day.

Final Thoughts

People can they change? Hopefully, you've come to believe that they can. Change is achievable with any life event if you are committed and persistent.

Begin small, set precise goals, and don't put off starting. You'll be surprised at how far change may lead you.

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