Is change really possible?

I got thinking about whether change is really possible flicking through channels one night a couple weeks ago and watching one of those prison shows (I cannot remember which one, maybe “Locked Up”  or something like that).  Anyway, there was discussion on recidivism and how something like 60% of offenders will reoffend.  The show was following a few prisoners who were trying to change and get on with a normal life after jail, and then as the show progressed the problems they had in doing so.  Some making their mistakes in jail and ruining parole, or those out on parole commiting crimes and going back to jail, even after swearing up and down that they had changed and would never go back.

Then I was weeding out my google reader and looking at all the blogs that I have subscribed to that no longer get updated, usually with the last post being along the lines of feelings of failure.  Many of these people had big weight loss successes and admitted that they thought that this time would be different, but ended up being just the same overall.  They tried to change and just couldn’t (or stopped).

So, this little marble has been rolling around in my brain for a while and I really wonder if it is possible to change the nature you are born with?  You would think if it were possible, then once the change happened it wouldn’t be so much of an effort to stay changed.

It feels more like what the change seems to be is what you focus on.  When your focus is on health, fitness,and weight loss – that is what you achieve.  When your focus is removed from that, then you stop going to the gym, getting careless with food, eating the way you used to.    So it makes me wonder if that would be that person’s (my??) true nature? I am not saying this in a bad way, but just what might be inherent inside.

Some things are really easy to change, and stay changed.  Other things are not.  I think the answer is really a lot more complex than the question itself.

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12 thoughts on “Is change really possible?

  1. roxie

    Can you change the nature that you are born with? Hmm. Interesting question. I think that nurture or environment has a great deal to due with the thinking processes that take place (or don’t) when acts of self-harm take place.

    I think for any change to stick, there has to be a fundamental shift in thinking that takes place. Without that, it’s pretty temporary.

    There are some changes that I feel pretty sure are permanent; and I hope that I’ve changed my relationship with food FOREVER. But who knows? I do believe that I’ve kicked smoking, spending and the clutter habits/addictions/whatever you chose to call it. The food one is tougher, but I’ve been holding my own for ten years, more or less.

  2. Jen, a priorfatgirl

    ooohhh…..that’s a good post! I wonder too – I wonder now that I’ve done this for 1.5 years, heck, almost two years, will it ever get easier? Will I ever just be okay with going to the gym? Am I always going to have to fight with myself to make the healthy decision? It can’t happen soon enough! Maybe…maybe not – who ever knows!

  3. Susan

    Very well put, I’ve tossed around similar ideas before too. What keeps me going is just knowing that this was a life-long choice I made. I’ve made peace with the fact that I will be at the gym almost every day for the rest of my life. I’d take that over the alternative any day!!

  4. Fat[free]Me

    Hmmm, great question. I think it depends on how and why the change was made whether it will stick or not. Also the person’s attitude. If you resent the exercise/healthy food, seeing it as only a temporary evil to get you to goal, then it won’t stick, but if you see it as an enjoyable way of life that enables you to do more fun things, the rewards will continue to motivate, even after reaching goal.

    But I know what you mean about losing focus – it is something I worry about too.

    Great post!

  5. Miz.

    I remember shouting at my mom once PEOPLE DONT CHANGE THEY CANT!! (W/regards to a boyfriend)

    I was in grad school at the time for counseling and she didnt miss a beat with saying THEN YOU ARE IN THE WRONG FIELD.

    ever since then Ive though differently.
    People CAN SO CHANGE.
    Its hard.
    But if you want it…if one wants it…you can.

    (he did :))

  6. Ron

    I think you can change, the key is “how bad you want to” Changing your eating habits can be accomplished fairly easily, we eat everyday and we always have, so if we change what we eat to those healhier choices and learn portion control we have won half the battle, exercise is something we have not done every day and is that something extra we have to want to do.

  7. Pam

    I agree with the idea that change can be permanent if you want the change bad enough. I have heard others say before “I am a thin girl trapped in a fat suit.” If this is truly the case, I guess you would be only changing the physical, but if that were true you wouldn’t be in the fat suit to begin with. Hmmm…yeah, you’re right, more complicated than even the question itself is. I certainly hope once I attain my goal that I am committed to making the change last my lifetime. Something tells me this time, it just might happen, in spite of myself. Thanks for the great post!

  8. Kristin

    I think in some sense it’s true that people don’t change. If you look at the reasons for people’s habits (good or bad), they’re probably rooted in a desire to make themselves feel good, and that doesn’t change. But our perceptions of what is going to make us happy may change and result in changing habits.

    I used to binge eat because it made me feel good/comforted, but I realized that was causing long term unhappiness because I was unhealthy. Now, I exercise and eat healthy foods to feel good, and it helps me in the long term too!

  9. Jinx!

    Before this whole weightloss journey i would have said yes most emphatically that you can change your nature. Because thats what i wanted..needed to believe. But i think i know different now. I have not changed who i really am. I have just bent it to my will. The old habits, urges , cravings etc….are still there. After working on this for a year and a half if i was truly going to change who i naturally am i think it would have happened. But everyday i have to excise my will against what my natural self really want to do which is eat what i damn well please and flop on the couch after a hard days work. So I’ve accepted this will be a battle i will fight for the rest of my life. Its just ‘who’ i’am. And as long as i’m willing to keep up the fight then i will keep the weight off.
    I’am a much stronger person mentally and physically for waging this war with myself. I know i can lay down my weapons of running and calorie counting at any time and end the battle. But somehow that drives me on. The fact that no body is making me do this. Its all me. And i’m not one to give in easily…..i mean i hung on to that big bowl of icecream for 20years. LOL! Surely i can dig in with tooth and nail to hang onto this healthier more athletic life. I think i’ve accepted that i’m not gonna change my natural born self.Not the very core of it. But i can change the outward appearance by the sheer power of my will. Jinx!

  10. Sarah

    Interesting question. I’ve had a lot of change in my life lately, but I really think it is my response to certain circumstances that has changed, not really who I am.

    With Weight Watchers, what I want changed is my weight and in order for that to happen I had to change my behaviors and decisions. But it doesn’t change that I would rather eat chocolate and potato chips and not exercise.

    I have also learned other new behaviors in the last 10 years to defend who I really am. Things like standing up for myself and drawing a line when it is necessary.

    All these new behaviors are helping to uncover the person I was always supposed to be but who I allowed to be covered up with bad habits and fat.

  11. julie

    I don’t think the convicts are a good comparison, because they have their records to carry around with them forever, and many won’t hire them. If it’s just yourself to contend with, you have more power. I think I’ve changed, I used to binge, now I exercise and rarely overeat, or eat for emotional reasons at all. I still have more changes to go, but I’ve at least changed my eating behavior.

  12. debby

    Hmmm, I’m a little late to the conversation. I can go both ways on the ‘change is possible’ controversy. But I did want to say that what I think is so hard for us to change (the foods we ‘want’ or ‘crave’ or ‘turn to for comfort’ are the result of the habits of a lifetime, NOT ‘our nature.’ That’s just my cheap opinion, of course–LOL!!

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