Change and Growth: A Lifelong Process
By: Leah Hovey
This week I’m going to be focusing on change. Change, as defined, is “to make or become different” (Oxford Dictionary of English, 2010). To change is a process and like many processes we go through, there is a suspected end goal. This is not always the case though.
One thing I learned recently is that rebuilding, growing and changing oneself is not a process one completes within a condensed period of time. The process of change and growth is lifelong. Sure, you can plan to change attitudes and work for a little while to become the person you strive to be, however, this is not the end of the process. It may not be weeks later but years later when you realize you have not finished this process yet.
This is why some people get frustrated or discouraged by attempting to change. Just when you think you have finally grown as a person, something comes along or happens in your life and you realize that you still have more growing to do. This can be disruptive, and make people ask “why bother to change myself?”
The realistic answer is you don’t have to. There are some people who are content living in a state of anger or within their toxic behaviour. But these people will not ever be at peace.
To find this inner peace one needs to always grow. It can seem as though this is an impossible feat for many, but if you really think about it, human beings are always growing.
You may think that you have let go of anger towards another human being, however, you may see them years later and realize all those resentful emotions are still there. Growing as an individual takes a lifetime. Until the day you die, you will be growing up. There is always something new to be learned, life circumstances that change you and social movements that change our perceptions. This is why the excuse “they are stuck in their ways” is a self-defeating statement. It does not even give one the option of growth or change. This in turn, gives an excuse to poor behaviour and ultimately you are enabling them. Everyone, no matter how old or young, should be growing.
This is why having relationships, meeting new people and learning new ideas contributes to our self-growth. By sheltering ourselves off from the world or sticking to what we know, we are not adhering to our full potential as individuals. One theory describes change using an acronym: ABC’s (adversity, beliefs and consequences). Martin E.P Seligman, explains that this is a chain on cognition on changing. “Adversity sets a cognitive explanatory cycle in motion, quickly solidifying thoughts into beliefs that generate your feelings and responses” (p.4, Seligman). When facing adversity about your beliefs, how you response will greatly impacts the consequences of your actions. If the consequence is negative, there may be a need for changing your mindset.
The process of growth or change is lifelong. Age is not an indicator of when you have truly “grown”. My 92 year old grandmother challenges her beliefs and changes her viewpoints on social issues within this world everyday. She is the most enlightened woman I know. So remember, even at 92 years of age, someone out there is changing their behaviour and growing as a person… you can too.
Seligman, M. E. (2006). Learned optimism: How to change your mind and your life. Vintage.
Stevenson, A. (2010). Oxford dictionary of English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.