We’re often in a position of deeply hoping that someone on whom we depend might change: become (perhaps) less defensive or less angry, kinder or more thoughtful… A lot of our energy can be spent trying to prompt them to evolve. But can people in fact ever change? And how come we’ve ended up in a position of wanting them to change so badly?
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“‘Can people change?’ The question may sound somewhat abstract and disinterested, as if one were asking for a friend or for the universe, but it is likely to be a good deal more personally – and painfully – motivated than that.
We ask, typically and acutely, when we’re in a relationship with someone who is inflicting a great deal of pain on us: someone who is refusing to open their hearts or can never stop lying, someone who is aggressive or detached, someone who is harming themselves or managing to devastate us. We ask too because the one immediately obvious response to frustration isn’t in this case open to us: we’re not able to simply get up and go, we are too emotionally or practically invested to give up, something roots us to the spot. And so, with the example of one troublesome human in mind, we start to wonder outwards about human nature in general, what it might be made of and how malleable it could turn out to be…”
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