Above all, we should remember that as long as we retain the capacity of concern for others, the potential for transformation remains.
– Dalai Lama, Twitter
There are very few people who cannot be rehabilitated. Most of these people tend to have some type of structural brain damage. Everyone else can change, but only if they want to change. Lately I write about American society, and its distorted views of things. From sex offenders ,murderers and drug users to just losing weight, we tend to forget that real change is possible as long as we alive. Real change occurs when someone makes a concerted effort to change their thoughts and actions. It doesn’t matter what crime a person has committed, or how many donut craving failures they give into. Everyone has the capacity to change when they shift their mind.
The key part of the Dalai Lama’s observation is the idea of concern for others. Whenever we fail to be concerned for others, we lose our ability to change. While we can change to better ourselves, most often this change is hard and fails. Yes you know you need to lose weight to prevent diabetes, heart problems, and other problems. Now shift your perspective. You now know you need to lose weight to let you bike with your children, share their interests, provide a healthful example, and be around to love them. Far more motivating isn’t it?
People are naturally more motivated to make when we consider the repercussions of our poor behavior on our loved ones. Selfish motivation is limited in its motivation to drive change. Yes we know this or that benefits us, but what is the point? This or that feels good now. However, if we consider how impulsive actions with just short term pleasure damages ourselves and how that damage will hurt those dearest to us, we are better able to forgo that damaging behavior. Even a murderer is capable of change as long as they feel concern for just their cat.That concern can be expanded toward people. Who knows, such a person could very well become a Nobel Peace prize winner.
The trick is to accept people when they change. Now, obviously, trust lost must be earned back. It benefits no one to continually ostracize people who have genuinely changed. A single mistake, even if it is as terrible as a murder, shouldn’t be held against people who have genuinely turned themselves around and paid their debt to society. This is one of the largest flaws in American society. We just label someone for the rest of their lives after they make a mistake and actually change. We cannot be naive, nor can we rightly ostracize people. People are individuals, not a group with a certain label.
Of course, transformation is difficult. The trick behind transforming yourself is changing thoughts and learning to be other-centered. I make no claims to knowledge; I just offer small ideas and quiet encouragement. Below are a few highlights from my blog archives on change. To learn more just read through Everyday Steps.