People Change When…

…they have to, they want to, they are able to.

You might be thinking “duh! That’s common sense.” Yes, it reads like common sense but what I find interesting are the words preluding those statements.

Here is my experience with each phrase.

People change when they…

Hurt enough that they have to

If we avoid the pain now, the payoff will never come. And more pain will. – Dr. Henry Cloud

To me, change caused by pain happens in stages.

  • Blame someone or something else. Play the victim role.
  • Avoid situation/person/job/task. Prevent confrontation.
  • Recognize there’s one common thread. I am.
  • I’m tired of it, I need to do something about it.
  • I do something about it.

Understand that to me #2 and #5 are not the same. I believe #2 is about hiding the pain hoping that it will go away. And #5, is the action taken after recognizing we have control over what we can do and what can affect us.

The former is a reaction; the latter, a response.

Learn enough that they want to

The law of awareness states: “you must know yourself to grow yourself”

This change happens when we become aware of our situation, what we can do about it, and recognize we have power to change it.

This is what happened to me when I got demoted. I became aware of how my attitude was affecting my relationships. How my obsession with fixing everything gave rise to the stress levels that alienated people. But it also helped me discover the triggers for my bad behaviors and a place to start the reformation.

Receive enough that they are able to

We have talked about pain and awareness. Now comes the part that matters most: the tool kit.

Pain triggers the need to change, awareness lets us know where to start and knowledge gives us the tools to make change a reality.

Books, mentors, feedback, workshops, and discussion groups were all sources I used to gain the knowledge necessary to help me get started on changing my mindset, attitude, and self-management techniques.

There you have it. Three reasons why people change.

What reasons do you have to change?



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