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Can A Person Change The Way They Are?

Nellie Shani

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Nobody thought my brother David would ever change. He was in boarding school and my father was constantly called by the principal to discuss something terrible that David had done.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when he caught a bird and broke its neck! The prophets of doom relegated David to the same place that they relegated murderers and convicts. He was only seven years old! My poor father was at a loss as to what to do with his “delinquent" son.

My father decided to bring David back home where he could keep an eye on him. When David came back home, his character changed almost immediately.

Today at the age of fifty, David has been working for a Christian mission organization for the last fifteen years. He is one of the gentlest men I know. I believe that boarding school was not the best environment for David. In retrospect, I think that David felt a form of rejection when he was sent to boarding school at such an early age and his wild behavior was an attention getting devise. He got my dad to go to his school almost every week!

Human beings are a product of their environment. Essentially, it is the environment that changes us. Think about this for a minute. When a baby is born they will turn out to be what their environment molds them to be.

A child born to a single struggling parent will be diametrically different from a child born in a loving environment where he or she has both parents. Does the adage “Bad company spoils good morals" ring a bell? Our environment molds our thinking and our paradigms.

The interesting thing is that until someone else points to us that we need to change, most people do not think that they need to change. I believe that a human being cannot change the way they are until the “smoke screen" through which they view life is challenged.

Most human beings think that their way is the best. If the way a person is, deprives them of something they want, then they will be willing to change. For example if a person craves acceptance then they will be willing to change in order to get acceptance. A human being can change the way they are only if they see a benefit to themselves deriving from the change.

How does a person change from an alcoholic to a non-alcoholic? First of all a “mirror" is put before them so that they can see themselves as they are - addicted to alcohol. It is interesting that most alcoholics deny being addicted to alcohol.

Then they must be able to see that this addiction presents them in a negative light. They have to believe that they are better people without the alcohol.

An environment (usually Alcoholics Anonymous) where they are with other people with a similar problem and where they don't feel condemned is usually the spring board from which they can propel themselves out of this habit.

Human beings can and will change when they can visualize a desirable end that will be brought about as a result of the change. The right environment is conducive to this kind of visualization.

Nellie Shani lives in California with her husband and three children. She is a Counselor, Conference speaker and writer. She has been writing articles for the last fifteen years. Her first book, “Stand Your Ground, " is now available on and on her author's website: ,



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