I would bet a dollar to a doughnut that almost everyone has heard these words at least once: “you need to change!” If you are, or were, anything like me, those words may have been conveyed such as, “you are going to end up dead if you don’t change!” But is it possible to change? Is it actually possible to change who you are?
This may come as a surprise to some and maybe not to others but changing who you are is impossible. Fundamentally you are who you are. When you were created, you were created with a fundamental nature.
To add to this, if I may, I personally believe that when you were created (and I personally give that credit to God) that there were no mistakes made during this process.
In other words, you were born whole, perfect and complete in design… I believe.
Emotions We All Have
We should all know that as humans we all have the same DNA when it comes to basic emotions. These basic emotions, as they have been studied by brighter minds than yours and mine, consist of Joy, Sadness, Anger & Fear.
While these 4 emotional traits do not necessarily have a monopoly on ALL emotions, we will focus on these.
Let’s connect a few characteristics to the emotion Joy, such as loving, confident, connected, happy, hopeful, loved, spiritual, thankful and tough.
Connected to Sadness could includes; depressed, disappointed, embarrassed, shameful, weak, guilty, lonely and tired.
Looking at Anger we see aggressive, competitive, jealous, resentful, hostile, defensive, disgusted, enraged and outraged.
In recovery, we learn that we suffer from a hundred different forms of fear, as outlined below:
“Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.” – Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 62.
Some of those forms of Fear equate to being anxious, avoidant, panicked, stressed, overwhelmed, terrified, guarded, fearful, vulnerable, trapped and concerned, once again, just to name a few.
Some fundamental characteristics of our emotions serve us and some characteristics do not.
The problem with this is that, more often than not, we as humans choose the behavior that requires less work.
As an example, if a man in front of me just dropped his wallet and I just lost my job, it is going to require nothing at all for me to pick up that wallet and put it into my pocket. After all, I did just lose my job and who knows how much money that man has in this wallet that I could use right about now!
Wrong answer, but familiar scenario…and not just to me. You know exactly what I am talking about, don’t you?
No, that is not the correct answer to that scenario. But it was the easy way to handle it.
It would have taken much honesty, integrity, humility and empathy (qualities fundamental to who you really are) to put yourself in that man’s shoes who just dropped his wallet with possibly the grocery money for his family that he much-needed to provide for.
Utilizing the emotion of the FEAR of my own concerns and stress of losing my job, as an example, I feel and feed my fear instead of utilizing the emotion of JOY, and feeling loving and proud to return to the man his property that is rightfully his, regardless of my situation or demise.
In the emotion of joy I am thinking about someone else instead of myself. In the emotion of fear, it is ALL about me, no matter what it may cost you.
You Can’t Change Who You Are.. Period!
Is it possible to change you ask? You cannot change who you are. It is impossible. It would also imply that you were created incorrectly. I honestly do not believe God made an error in creating us. Now, if you believe something different, then maybe this isn’t the post for you to be reading.
The question isn’t, “is it possible to change?”
The question is, “is it possible for me to become the best version of me that I can possibly be?… because I really don’t like the version of me right now!” And, the answer to that question is ‘absolutely!’
Making A Decision One Way or the Other
The bottom line is that we as people have one thing in common if we don’t have anything else….and that bottom line fact is that we ALL have free will.
Just as the emotional make-up of anger, fear, joy and sadness we share, we also share the freedom of choice. We ALL possess it.
We all have decisions to make on a daily basis, every day. Some decisions are as simple as, “do I want Captain Crunch or do I want Fruity Pebbles for breakfast?”
The point is, you are going to decide one way or the other. You will either pour milk on the Crunch or the Pebbles. But one of those things is going to happen, because you are going to make it happen…you will decide one way or the other!
Other things in life can be more difficult. Do I want to rent or do I want to own? One way or the other, one of these things you will decide on…either you will rent a home or you will decide to buy a home. Decision…one way or the other.
Behavior Characteristics: Virtuous vs. Defective
If I can’t change who I am, how would it be possible for a change to occur? This is the question you may be asking yourself.
This is, in fact, the question many of us had and still have today. This question seems, for many of us, too big to answer.
I’ll use myself, as an example, and maybe many of you will identify.
When I was finishing high school, I enlisted on the delayed entry program and joined the Marines. My intention was of virtue because my intentions were to serve my country, not myself.
Now lets look at what Webster explains about the quality of virtue:
Virtue is goodness that is victorious through trial or through temptation and conflict. Goodness, the being morally good, may be much less than virtue, as lacking the strength that comes from trial and conflict, or it may be very much more than virtue, as rising sublimely above the possibility of temptation and conflict.
At the time I joined the United States Marine Corp in 1981, our country was in conflict with the Middle East.
The conflicts with Iran, Iraq, Libya and Lebanon played a big role in my enlisting, especially what would later become known as ‘The Lebanon Crisis’.
The quality that every veteran has when enlisting to serve is “selflessness”. They are thinking of serving their country instead of themselves. The fundamental quality of virtue is present which is connected to behavior such as goodness, bravery, integrity, courage and thinking selflessly opposed to thinking selfishly, just to name a few.
These qualities already exist in us, there in our DNA, waiting to be utilized but we have to CHOOSE (or decide) to exercise that choice of being virtuous.
Now lets look at some other not-so popular choices that I DECIDED (or chose) to exercise in my life, as well, known as defects or defective behavior.
But first, let’s take a look at what defective means, as it is pretty clear cut in definition:
Defective simply means a shortcoming, imperfection, or lack of. Some other words synonymous with defective are flaw, deficiency, weakness, fracture, mistake and fault.
Spiraling Out of Control
I am not going to spend a lot of time on my bad decisions, because we would be here all day.
I will tell you that after the Marines Corp, I started to make life altering decisions for the worst. Those decisions cost me over 2 decades of incarceration and just as long in my addiction to heroin.
What started out as ‘recreational use’ or ‘weekend warrior status’ (by the way…there is no such thing) turned into a nightmare that, for some reason at the time, I didn’t understand I was in.
After a while, it just became normal…the insanity was a normal way of life for me. It was a life I ‘chose’.
Programmed by my insanity and fueled by my addiction resulted in committing armed robberies to support my habit. It was my normalcy now.
I can remember times before actually committing a robbery, of weighing the odds should I get caught.
I would rationalize having to do 5 years on an armed robbery if caught and convicted. I would say to myself, “that’s not so bad…I can take the chance and gamble…it will be worth it if I get away with it”
I could share more thoughts and action processes which played out while I was in my insanity.
The point is, in making decisions such as this madness I just shared with you, I created a delusional life that I was, sadly to say, comfortable with…that was normal for me…or so I thought.
Eliminating The Things That Do Not Serve You
I spend over 25 years in my madness, in and out of prison and playing Russian Roulette with a killer, heroin, thinking this is perfectly normal.
The one truth attached to all of this is that I chose to live like that. I chose the road that is frequently traveled opposed to the road that is less traveled. I chose to become defective instead of choosing to be virtuous.
I do understand that all the right decisions are not easy to make and probably, for most people, impossible to achieve. But insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.
Wisdom, however, is making a mistake, understanding it was possibly the wrong decision (for you anyway), being able to correct it and in the process having learned from that to a degree that you are able to convey the knowledge to help others.
A wise man once told me that I could not possibly change. This man was instrumental in my early days of recovery. But he didn’t tell me, “You can’t change who you are” and just leave it at that! He explained to me why, or his own personal reasoning of why.
It was conveyed to me like this: “You can’t change who you are because you were already made whole, perfect and complete with no mistakes. But you were also made with something very powerful and unique to humans…and that is free will. Your free will allows you as an individual to make individual decisions based on your fundamental approach to decision-making.”
He went on to explain, “For instance you can decide to use drugs or you can decide that drugs are no good for you even if you really want to continue using them. You could also decide to rob someone because you need money or you can decide that you are going to get a job and start making an honest living.”
Once again, we always arrive at the same place of departure and arrival…you have a decision to make!
What this equates to is simply this. If you want to become the best version of you that you can possible be, you don’t have to change who you are, you have to start eliminating the things in your life that do not serve you or your new purpose of becoming the “best version of you” that you can be.
I don’t know what vices you are dealing with today and what needs re framing or needs to be eliminated or confronted.
I can tell you from my own experience that I have had to eliminate things in my life that have not served me well. Drugs and Alcohol are at the top of the list.
Eliminating things that do not serve you is a process. It was a process, and still, of recovery that I had to accept and commit to that would allow me to start eliminating those strongholds that did not serve me.
After letting go of the mind-altering substances, I also had to let go of that community that dwells there. I also had to eliminate the criminal mentality connected with it all.
It is a process of elimination that is no cakewalk, but undeniably necessary for change to occur.
A Change Is Gonna Come
Changing your mind is not changing who you are. It is allowing bad habits to be replaced with better habits and better habits to be replaced by best habits that serve you individually.
It is allowing defective traits to become challenged and overcome by virtuous traits.
If you prefer to wrap your head around the perspective of changing who you are, opposed to eliminating the things that do not serve you, then I would suggest to you to expect to be discouraged.
Changing who you are may never be accomplished but eliminating the things holding you back from being the best version of you possible?? Well my friends… that change can start today!
What I am hoping this analysis of opinion conveys is that changing who you are should never be your perspective but creating new, healthy habits to replace the bad ones should
What is extremely essential for you to know it that you control both and that you will make a decision…one way or the other.
Choose today to be the start of a new day of you becoming the best version of you that you can be.
Making Adjustments by Replacing Habits…One Step At A Time!
I read this book that ultimately helped transform my perspective on how to make changes in my life that seemed unreachable.
Let’s face it, change that doesn’t immediately present benefits is something we as humans avoid.
Change is not something we embrace. It seems to big most of the time and rightly so, because most of the time it is!
Most of us would go to the gym and work-out if we would see results the same day. But, since we don’t, and we won’t ever…in one day…we avoid the gym.
Now some of us know that working out is a process. It is not a destination, it is a journey. The people you see in the gym that you wish you looked like are on a ‘journey’ and the hard work that shows results have resulted in the process of the ‘journey’… not the one day hit it or quit it!
Once you are able to realize that the process of elimination in eliminating the things that do not serve you is not an overnight fix, you accept that it is a new journey that you are on…and you begin.
This book opened my eyes even wider than they were and revolutionized my approach to ‘change’.
The book is call “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and the book is not just a book, it is a ‘tool’ to have in the tool box of recovery and a blueprint of evolving into “YOU” and who you really are. You can actually read my full review on the book here to help you understand you better
Not who you were, not who you thought you were, not who you have become, not who you use to be, not even what you could have been but who you simply are.
If you are trying to be a better ‘you’ today that’s all you have and that’s all that matters. Because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not promised. All we really have is…just for today.
Much love to you ~ Timo