Can a person change ingrained behaviors?

After a lengthy conversation with a friend about someone she knows, probably knows too well, I have been thinking on the subject of how we become who we are and if we can change our stripes.

The description by my friend of her acquaintance, and the subsequent stories she told, gave me the impression that the person has always been a “taker.” The acquaintance will not change now, at 65 plus years. My friend wants very much to change the other person and make her into a better human being. I think she sees this as redemptive work. I don’t see it happening unless this string of behavior is new. Then the acquaintance might be guided to rethink the behaviors and change.  In my experience, when a person has lived all of their life behaving a certain way, much of it learned from their own parents, the behavior will not change.

Another piece of this puzzle, to me, is why my friend has gotten so entangled with this acquaintance, since she is seeing the behaviors she hates being repeated over and over. I usually drop someone whose behavior I find annoying, or at the very least, avoid them.  Perhaps one feels martyred to keep in contact and hope they can change the person. I think I’ve heard someone say, maybe Dr. Phil?, that you do what gives you a payoff. Guess I need to figure out the payoff my friend is getting from her continued contact with this person.




7 responses to “Can a person change ingrained behaviors?

  1. I think some people really like to try to manage other people. It gives me the creeps to think of someone wanting to change me for “my own good.” I also wonder about her actual reasons for not just walking away.

  2. Yes. There seems to be a real fad going on now for trying to get other people to think and do what others want them to.
    Oh, thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciate your comment. This Zeke Emmanuel guy is a real head case, if you ask me, but if he wants to be that way I have no problem with it, as long as he does not tell me how to live!

  3. interesting quandary.. hard to say what makes some people get along with others..and friends do get mad at friends from time to time and that’s when it’s good to take a break!

  4. People must change themselves. I have become a better person, I think, from knowing David. Everybody likes David. He has changed over the 32 years we’ve been married. We are like Felix and Oscar, or were, now we’re not so odd.

  5. My guess it gives her a focus and a subject to talk about. Ad nauseum. Her life must be pretty empty.
    And they say our ingrained patterns of behaviour get worse as we age.
    I believe it.

  6. I don’t think anybody can change another person. Anybody who tries would certainly be frustrated. I would probably just avoid somebody who annoys me too often.

  7. Schmidley has the right of it. The friend must change herself. No one can change her but herself. Yes, speaking from personal experience, one can change ones behavior at any age even if the behaviors have been with one from birth.

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