Can you really change yourself and your life? When you change, do you leave the “real you” behind? Or become more “you” than ever?
In the recent comedy flick Bridesmaids, two characters engage in a brief but hilarious exchange about whether people really ever change. The conversation is a thinly veiled competition over who is better friends with the bride-to-be. The lifelong friend, threatened and jealous of her friend’s new relationships and interests, insists that people don’t really change, but they grow and become better versions of themselves, remaining basically the same person they’ve always been. The new friend, a woman who has forged a relationship based on new shared interests, argues that all people change and that growth is an indication that a person has left behind who he or she used to be in order to become a completely new and different person. The scene is funnier than I can convey here, of course, but the subject matter is worth considering.
So, can you change yourself and your life? If you do, are you becoming a better version of your true self? Or are you leaving behind the old you to become a new and improved you?
I believe that you can change. And for what it’s worth, I believe that when you change, you don’t just become a better version of yourself. I believe you become the pure, true, authentic version of yourself. There’s a difference.
Certainly, we all wish to improve ourselves in one way or another—typical American values have us wanting to be richer, thinner, and more successful. At a deeper level, we may want to be better in our roles—a better parent, sibling, employee. Perhaps we strive for even greater and more significant change—to be more charitable, more confident, more honest, more loving, more productive, more satisfied.
Wanting these things is easy. Getting them takes work. And when we embark on a mission to get what we want—when we go from just wanting something to going after it—we demonstrate at a fundamental level who we are. If we want to be more loving, it means we already are loving. If we want to be a better parent or employee, it means we already are doing something right in those areas. If we act, if we are successful in making even small changes and improvements, we are moving toward becoming the truest, best, purest versions of who we already are.
But what if we want or need a life change that is so drastic that it feels like we will be giving up who we have always been? If you are unkind and you want to be kind, or you are unhealthy and you want to be healthy, or you are single and you want to be married and a parent…well, then are you burning yourself to the ground and building yourself from scratch?
While it may feel that way, I would like to suggest that you are actually just being more true to yourself and who you have always been when you move toward a significant change. You can shed the skin of unkindness that may have served you well in the past but is no longer getting you want you want and need. You can leave behind the burden of bad habits that once felt light but are now weighing you down. These things don’t make you who you are.
The real you, the pure you, the true you has been there all the time, and the moment you act to bring that person out into the light, you have proven who you really are. And that person is worth working on and sharing with the world.
Originally posted on November 19, 2011, by Rachel French, Irvine Life Coach