#Askingforafriend: How do I change?
By Kristan Farley
GCU Office of Student Care
A person CAN change, but it often requires some work.
Apologizing or promising change does not actually produce change. It’s just like figuring out why a car is not working properly – it requires assessment, taking some things apart, fixing the inner workings and putting the car back together.
People require inner assessment and work to produce real change. Analyzing how a person arrived at this behavior, rethinking old patterns and turning toward new ways can lead to change.
The following steps can indicate if a person can “TURN” things around:
T – Take responsibility for actions. If there is hope for change, a person must first admit they have done something wrong or something needs to be altered. If you are waiting for a person to change who has not taken this step, it is time to adjust your expectations because this is the first step to change.
U – Understand why this happened. If a person has a habit of gossiping, getting angry, cheating or exhibiting other harmful behavior, they need to say, “That was wrong, I am sorry.” Next, they have to begin the process of understanding why. For instance (replace cheating with any behavior), “Why do I cheat?” “When is the first time I cheated?” “What is usually happening in my life before I cheat?” “Is there a history of cheating in my life?” “What is my goal in acting this way?” Seeking to understand why a behavior happens and what contributes to it happening is the inner work required to initiate change.
R – Resource the problem. Get help. As a person begins to analyze the problem, it is essential to find resources or ask for help. One can read a book, talk it through with a friend or meet with a counselor. Major changes to a longtime pattern require assessment and assistance. Often, one needs help to find the underlying causes and learn steps to make effective change.
N – New practices, new habits. To stop the old behavior, one has to practice a new way. If the problem is a hot temper, a person can practice taking a break to calm down before acting out in anger. One can practice avoiding certain situations that typically spark anger. One can practice mindfulness and learn to be present before the day even begins to prepare for disruptions ahead of time. Combined with taking responsibility, understanding why and resourcing the problem, this new practice can help set a new pattern to break old habits.
If you are trying to change, you can! Start by taking these steps and begin new practices that can help you turn. In relationship to others, you can expect more of the same behavior from a person who has not invested in the process of change.
Either way, change is a process, typically slower than we want. But we can make effective change if we start to turn.