Give me 4 Minutes, and I’ll Tell You Why People Hardly Change!

I’m going to assume that most of you believe people hardly change.

A hasty assumption on my part, but I’m going to justify my stance by telling you people usually say things like a leopard never changes its spots, once a cheat, always a cheat! These sayings made me conclude that most of my readers believe that people hardly change. So, why is this? Read on to find out.

You may have heard of the term cognitive dissonance. If you’ve not, I’ll let you know that it happens when you have two conflicting beliefs, opinions and behavioural attitudes existing within you simultaneously. Most of us, myself included have quite a lot of it within us. So, you don’t have to think you’re alone and that Miss Hailey Brown is some kind of saint!

How does it manifest? In various ways. Close your eyes and see yourself in a two-year relationship. Your partner treats you like a Queen, and you’re so much in love that you assume (falsely) that he is the best thing since sliced bread, much better than all your exes. He proposes to you and both of you get married.

Fast-forward to three years later. He starts treating you badly, but instead of you to own up to the fact that you made a mistake in marrying him, you justify your reasons and keep believing he’s still much better than that jerk Tony, whom you left for your husband. This, my Dear, is cognitive dissonance at work!

Cognitive dissonance makes us wrongly believe we are getting better when we aren’t. It deludes us into thinking our current set of friends are much better than those backstabbers who betrayed me.  It hypnotizes us into failing to live up to the goals and aspirations we set for ourselves. Like when you’ve decided to stop licking ice cream as it’s fattening. You yield to temptation, and instead of owning up to it, you resort to one of these three reasons:

  • You lie to yourself. Ice cream is not that fattening.
  • You justify your failure. I’m allowed to lick ice cream once in a while.
  • You decide to balance out your failure. I’ll sweat it out at the gym
Cognitive dissonance is the leading reason why most people hardly change!

So, how is a lesser mortal supposed to overcome cognitive dissonance and change for the better? You might want to set measurable goals for yourself. I sometimes tell people that all your goals should be SMART– Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. By measurable, I mean that it should have a measurable benefit/improvement that is readily visible to others and does not exist solely in your imagination.

And it gets worse. When you realize the fact that most people are just functional, not productive it is easy to see why they hardly change. Even most intelligent and wise ones are not left out of this, as they are blissfully unaware of the fact their so-called insights have produced little to no measurable improvements in their lives and others’. Cognitive dissonance makes them unable to make the necessary changes that would result in measurable improvement in their lives. Sad, isn’t it?

Don’t take my word for it. Do some more reading on this concept, and reflect on if it explains why people hardly change! For all you know, I could be some self-deluded amateur shrink!

For further reading on making positive changes in your life, you might want to read my post on learned optimism

What do you like about this post? Rather, what do you dislike about it? Venture into the comments section with your opinion and don’t forget to like, share via social media and bookmark this post on your device for further reading. 

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