People Don’t Change Unless ?


“In a sense ,we’re homesick of our true nature”-Mingyur Rinpoche

There’s a famous fable of a frog and a scorpion.

It goes like this :

A scorpion, who could not swim, asked a frog to carry it across a river on the frog’s back.

The frog hesitated, knowing that scorpion has a habit of stinging. But the scorpion argues that if it did that during their ride over the river, not only frog would die but he himself would die along-with him, hence the frog should not worry as there’s too much risk for scorpion himself.

The frog considers this argument sensible, gets convinced. And agrees to transport the scorpion.

Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung the frog despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it. It’s in my nature.”

One interpretation is that people are unable to change their habits, their basic nature despite knowing that this may harm them in the long run. Think about a smoker, think about most of the people who don’t follow a regular routine of exercise to keep their bodies fit, think about the people who’re lazy who don’t want to work-hard despite knowing that it is good for their long term future!

In essence, it can be said that people abhor changes. They want to remain in a comfort zone although the same comfort-zone may lend them into a discomfort-zone in the long run.

We observe the same behavior across society, across organizations. Despite numerous training-programs, despite a lot of motivational lectures, people tend to remain the same.

Though there may be a temporary momentum towards the change they fall back to the same old-self, the concept of inertia works wrt people’s nature also.

People don;t change , they just pretend.

Key Reasons People Don’t Want To Change :

Reason 1:

“Most people don’t really want freedom because freedom requires responsibility , and most people are frightened by responsibility.” Sigmund Freud

True change is letting go of blame and taking accountability for the way you move in the world. When you yourself become a source of your happiness or sorrow, the is on you to change the circumstances around you.

But most people actually don’t like it this way. Most people actually want someone else to tell them when something can be done, how something can be done. That way when something goes wrong, they can blame someone else for the failure -an easy way to remain in a comfort zone.

Reason 2:

Another reason for people not changing can be attributed to their nature to remain in default mode.

Letting go of what’s familiar to someone is like transplanting him in a new land where you don’t speak the language, where you don’t understand the culture.

In that new land, a person needs to transform himself, needs to learn new way of life-it requires a deeply frustrating kind of tedium. The new place is unpredictable, you may end up looking fool by making some silly mistakes.

You see all the locals who seem to navigate so easily and you feel that you would never that level. It’s hard and excruciating. You tend to retreat back to what you’re used to because there you know what to expect.

Reason 3:

Many times goals look distant, the success is not in the sight.

The path looks arduous in the absence of an immediate result.

Several frustrating moment, frequent failures, many decision changes and uncertainties whether one would reach the desired goal and even if there is certainty in reaching the goal the timeline is uncertain.

Can People Change?  

People don’t change their nature unless there’s some immediate threat e.g. threat of losing a job, breaking of a relationship which is close to someone’s heart, imminent risk of a disease or death .

People start doing exercise after a heart attack, people spend extra hours in office to save their jobs or re-skill themselves, sacrifice few habits to save a relationship.

Is the change permanent?

The answer is yes and no.

If threatening conditions persist, people change permanently but if the risk goes down, people tend to go back their own old comfort zone.

In summary, it can be said that people don’t change unless they’re forced to or they’re pushed to the wall when there’s no option left.

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