One day, I was reflecting on something I just heard and the thought came into my mind that I don’t need to change. I have struggled in my life, and many of those struggles center around my identity and how I would love to change who I am: change how I feel, change my tendencies, my personality, increase my abilities, decrease my fears. I want to be more and less, and often just someone different.
We talk about change a lot as if it something that needs to be accomplished in order for us to do something. If you change you will have success, have friends, no longer have these problems, and even be saved. I have believed that I needed to fundamentally change as a person, and if not I would be a failure.
But change doesn’t work that well. Through my own willpower, I might find myself changing my actions or attitude for a while, but slowly it slips back into old pathways. I am the same as I always was.
Whats worse is if I look around me and thought that someone else needs to change. A spouse, a child, a friend. Trying to get them to change is less effective than changing myself: it is pretty much impossible. But I’ve wasted a lot of effort on trying.
I have to accept myself as I am, and other people as they are because we don’t fundamentally change. Acceptance of who I am, or who other people are, is one of the basic qualities of love. And with love, we receive joy. Trying to change myself or others simply gets in the way of this love and joy.
Yet, there are things that do appear to need changing in my life: bad habits, sins, flaws. However, instead of using the term change: how about using the term improve. I need to improve as a person, but I do not need to change. Many of my flaws can be catalysts that help me improve. Change would remove that flaw, and hence the catalyst to improve.
I want the people around me to improve as people as well. But not to change. My children can be stubborn and passionate. It leads to a lot of power struggles, fights between the boys, blowing up, etc. I often think it would be lots easier if they weren’t so strong-willed.
But…I don’t want them to lose that passion, strong will, and even the stubbornness. My children do what they believe is right in spite of peer pressure. They obey with exactness when they are convinced that is the right course. They try for hours to complete a task. If they changed, they wouldn’t have these traits that can be used for good,
I do want them to improve: I want them to learn how to channel passion into learning a new piano piece, calmly, not hit a brother. I want them to learn how to stand up for what is right and good, and still not get into arguments and power struggles. But I don’t them to change a bit. I want them to grow as they are.
Although I never fundamentally change, I do want to become a better version of myself. And one of the first steps is accepting who I am, and stop trying to change that.