General Question

wenwen's avatar

Can a person ever really change?

Asked by wenwen (331points) December 7th, 2010

Just wondered if you have faith that a person can change if they’ve done something bad? Can they become a better person? Or are they tarnished from their previous acts, for life? Is it different from person to person…do you think you can tell if a person is sincere about their desire to change themselves for the better?
Opinions please

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19 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

Yes. There is a reason why we don’t have the mentality of an 8 year old at age 16 and the mentality of a 16 year old at age 36, but everyone is different, and some take longer to change or change very quick.

BoBo1946's avatar

Oh yes… I’m a great believer that people deserve a second chance. After all, there are so many example of people that have committed crimes, etc. and do a lot of good in the World. I’m a great believer in Redemption.

iamthemob's avatar

I’m sure if I had a talk with my 20-year-old self, we’d see how different we are. ;-)

Change is more inevitable than it is impossible. It happens all the time. When, however, someone wants you to change…that’s a little more difficult.

marinelife's avatar

People can change. The way to tell if someone is sincere about changing is in the evidence of their changed actions.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Change always happens. It rarely happens how or when you want it to. Change isn’t always for the better, sometimes you change for the worse or make a sideways move.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, people can and do change all the time.

It is the very nature of life.

Shift happens, but it can’t be forced.

For anyone to change they must experience a deep inner desire for such, all on their own, and no amount of pressure from another will make a difference.

In my opinion character is either the stronger force or it is not.

One mistake is one mistake but if there is a longstanding pattern of behavior the odds are high that that behavior will remain intact, and is much more indicative of some major personality/character flaws.

MissAusten's avatar

Yes, people can change, but I think the person in question has to want the change and make it happen. No one else can do it, the desire to change has to come from within.

If I’d met my husband even a year earlier than I did, I wouldn’t have given him the time of day. His life was one big party with drugs, alcohol, and girls. He was every father’s worst nightmare and his own parents were seriously about to give up on him. They stopped supporting him financially. One day he took a look at himself: on probation for something really stupid, no education, job at a video store, shoes held together with string, and no better prospect in sight. He decided he did not want that life. Went home, quit the drugs, moderated the drinking, got a job, and went back to school. Now when I hear stories of the things he used to do, it’s like hearing stories about another person. He’s the most responsible, hard-working, ethical (but still crazy and fun) person I know. Those changes came only from him, not from his family, friends, or anyone else who thought he was destroying his life.

Edited to add: Whether or not to trust a person who claims to have changed is trickier. Only time will tell, but it’s always best to keep in mind that actions speak louder than words.

Cruiser's avatar

Peoples “desire” to change is much different to the change itself. It is so easy to want something, but to actually get it as in this change your refer to, is a much different set of dynamics. It involves commitment and a clear set of meaningful measurable goals and steps to achieve this change. Actions speak louder than words.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
john65pennington's avatar

This answer deals strictly with a criminals point of view.

Most criminals are repeat offenders. are these people born with the gene to commit crimes? probably so. we have good and bad genes in our body. repeat offenders only care about one goal in their life and that is taking what is not theirs. they do not have the b___s to educate themselves, in order to receive have things in their life, legally. 60% of criminals are repeat offenders. they are gambling that they will not be caught and take the chance.

I have no respect for repeat offenders. they take what is not theirs and their conviction and prison time is a tax burden to us all.

BoBo1946's avatar

Footnote: Hopefully, I change some everyday. Still working on myself.

kess's avatar

No man can change His destiny,
One will only be exactly as He is.

All one need to do is follow Truth according to His own self and He will be fine.

And it matter not which way he goes he can only follow that which was predestined for himself.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

I have changed a lot over the past 3 years so my answer is yes. In my own opinion anyone can change if they want to.
And yes you can tell if someone is sincere about changing. Some people just pretend to change to get out of trouble and you can see it in their eyes.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m not sure I would call it change so much as learn from their mistakes. They are still the same person, but they have grown or increased their ability to make better judgments.

As others have mentioned, it’s hard to tell, because they can claim to have changed, but not really. The only way to tell for sure is their actions over time.

josie's avatar

Our civilization certainly believes in redemption.
But that does not mean that everybody will redeem themselves-only that they deserve the chance.

lonelydragon's avatar

Here’s a succint answer:

How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Answer: One, but the lightbulb has to want to change.

The above holds true for change in general. As for the person’s sincerity, time will tell. If they maintain those changes over the long term, then their motivation is genuine (but expect them to relapse a time or two, because old habits are hard to break).

gm_pansa's avatar

yes, but they have to WANT TO change.

ETpro's avatar

Certainly people can change. People can learn from their mistakes. In truth, the one thing we cannot do is not change. That said, it is well to be suspicious of someone who has done you wrong in the past. There are plenty of records of people learning from a mistake, and becoming truly better people for it. Just employ the old Russian proverb, “Trust, but verify.” Because there are plenty of records of people learning nothing from a mistake, and doing the same fool think all over again.

john65pennington's avatar

Lonelydragon, “but the lightbulb wants to change”. this is so true. especialy, when this topic deals with drug addicts. i have sent many people to drug rehab. only one is still clean today. its like the old saying goes, “i can’t get the monkey off my back”. a person has to have the will to change or his/her efforts are in vain. good answer LD.

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