When People Change

…they actually haven’t changed at all. It’s different if you’re younger and you’re still growing up, but we all reach a point somewhere in our early adulthood where we will always be who we are at our core. This isn’t about trivial preferences like cheese or pepperoni pizza. It’s character. And maybe, maybe, we could argue that people could change after traumatic life experiences, but we’ll leave the exceptions out for simplicity. My aim here isn’t to make a case one way or another; it’s to help people understand what’s really happening when they see a side of someone they’ve never seen before.question

I’m breaking this down into two parts: the current lens through which most of us view people and then how we can paradigm shift to make sense of something that seems to make no sense at all.

As human beings, we naturally seek to understand things around us, including, other human beings. We’re also really pressed on time. This is the same psychology behind why we create stereotypes about people; it’s a desire to rapidly identify, assimilate and categorize. So, when we meet new people, we can’t wait to know everything about them in order to quickly reach the point where we breathe a sigh of relief and say “I know her” or “I trust him.” It is our natural inclination to do this, and frankly, any other process would seem cumbersome.

But there is a fault in this mechanism. We become fixated on the idea of a person and it’s almost as if our brain shuts down the ability to receive new information about people as characteristics of who they are. Here’s what I mean. You meet someone you like, you’re getting to know them, you like what you hear. And for what you don’t know about them, you attempt to fill in the blanks yourself. You may do that consciously, you may do that subconsciously, but it’s happening because of your need to understand. Once you’ve created this seemingly “perfect” identity for them (and you may have even accepted their flaws since, you know, no one is perfect), you crystallize that idea. Then, when you learn something new about them, you don’t say “Oh, I’ve only known him for three months, I’m still getting to know him and this is just another part of who he is,” you instead think “That’s strange, I know him, and that doesn’t sound like him.” New information isn’t attributed to the person. Instead, it’s treated as a deviation from their normal behavior pattern.

Do you see how this can be damning to us? We focus on trying to understand why those seemingly inconsistent things happen, making excuses and brushing them aside. It’s detrimental not just for obvious reasons, but also because when this behavior repeats itself (as it often does), we’ve mentally categorized the older incidences as unusual and they’re discarded from the profile we created about this person. Every new incident is isolated when it should be seen as part of a collective whole, yet any past incidents have been explained away or forgotten. We don’t retrieve that vital information when we need it most. It’s the blessing and the curse of the human mind.

It’s important to note that singular instances don’t necessarily define people. I didn’t use any absolute statements on purpose, because every circumstance is different. Sometimes one incident can be really revealing and sometimes you can know someone for a lifetime and not really know them at all. Now that I’ve left you completely unsettled with that truth, back to what I was saying before.

So, what’s a person to do? This is where we paradigm shift. Knowing what you now know, you can consciously perceive people differently. It doesn’t mean you need to be a hermit and avoid the world because no one is predictable and that makes life too scary. The better (read: healthier) route would be to accept the fluidity of life. Pay attention and accept things when they happen so you can recall them when you need to. Don’t assume you have people figured out and shut down your own remarkable ability to learn more. Personally, before I come to any conclusions, I like to look for patterns. I’ve found that I’m at full attention when things happen a second time, and three times is enough to say something is part of a person’s character. You don’t have to make decisions at the receipt of every new piece of information, but when you have enough evidence to make a case, it’s time to make a decision.

Receive new information about people without a predetermined bias. More time means more exposure, but people reveal their real selves when their character is tested, not when everything is great and things are going their way. Sometimes that won’t happen for a long time. We have to accept new information about them as we learn about it and then continuously make a conscious decision about whether they need to be in our life or not.

Question what you think you “know” and recognize that “I know them, they wouldn’t do that” is the biggest lie people tell themselves.

There doesn’t need to be any agony about how much they’ve changed or dissecting situations to figure things out. Weighing what’s important to you and defining your standards is the harder part here. I’ve touched on this a few times, but I stand behind what I’ve said before: do you know who you are? If there was the slightest feeling of anything but a resolute “YES!” to that question, you have to work on YOU. Take the time to learn about yourself, to develop who you are and what you stand for. If you start there, the rest is easy because you’ll create an incredibly strong reference point: yourself. An inconsistent, cowardly and weak reference point will take you somewhere you don’t want to be, only to make you wonder how the hell you got there. Or wondering why your friend is so condescending. Or why your significant other takes advantage of you. Or why you’re overlooked for a promotion. Catch my drift? It’s easier to measure things against a set of well-defined standards and this is crucial to a happy, fulfilling existence. Make it a priority to sort this out and the rest is cake. And really, who doesn’t love cake?!

 

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[Inside my mind: What I shared above is something I’ve gathered from my personal experiences and my own observations. It’s a personal theory I developed while trying to make sense of things, and the advice I often find myself giving to others. Hearing the phrase “People don’t change” wasn’t enough for me. I needed to understand why that was hard for us to accept; what our minds are currently doing to cause the breakdown in receiving new information. This perspective was born through the marriage of everything I’ve been exposed to and the very little bit I know about human psychology. People find solace in this outlook and I hope it sheds some light for you too.

I also want to say thank you to those who have trusted me enough to share your personal stories, as each story has lent to solidifying my understanding of this process and, in turn, has granted me the ability to give this advice. The best teachers are always students first. Your questions and curiosity give me the opportunity to learn before I teach (that includes hair and makeup too!) Thank you.]

Comments

  1. Hi Nur,

    Absolutely love this post! Heck you could think you knew your family this whole time but even they have the ability to completely surprise you and shake your world upside down! With that said, I have a request for a future post. Will you please consider writing on dealing with insecurities? How to make yourself happy before being in a relationship and most of all, being comfortable with the possibility of being alone. (Those are three different topics I suppose but it would be awesome if you could do something on all of them 🙂 )

    Thank you and lots of love! Keep up the excellent work 😀

  2. Hi Nur,

    I think that you just changed my outlook, almost completely, when it comes to learning and accepting people. I would love to Skype with you sometime, about makeup, fashion, etc. I know that a lot of people may come to you asking you about “Can you please help me with my channel?” etc. etc. and that is totally fine, but I am looking to start a blog, and a youtube channel called “Bajan Stile” [read: I am from Barbados (in the West Indies) and people from Barbados refer to themselves as Bajans] soon and someday open my own fashion store. I am 24 years old and my name is, as mentioned before, Alanna M. I am thinking of coming to the States (particularly Miami), soon, but I think that it is wiser to ask for a Skype call first, rather than to ask for a meet-up first, which could come across as weird. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Sam Fine (makeup artist to celebrities such as Tyra and supermodel Iman) is coming to Barbados soon as part of sort of a ‘LifeStyle Convention’. I would love to speak with him and do one of my videos with him (maybe interview him). If you want, and if you and I meet up on Skype and talk, and we become close (or at least have a good rapport), then as a favor to you I can mention you to him. It may not turn out to be much, but I think it’s a good business trade off for a Skype call/communication with you. Hopefully, you like how I think =), and maybe you can get a nice, free pen out of it, too ;-)(Lol, I also watch your videos). So, if you want, you can add me as ‘Pixelpuff’ on Skype, or if you have any issues with that, you can contact me at mysticdragon_008@hotmail.com, and I’m excited to hear from you! Have a great day/night, sweetie =) !

  3. Nur,
    Thank you for this post. I guess it goes back to the idea that how people treat you has very little to do with them and so much more to do with self-perception and worth. As always, love how multifaceted you are. It’s not too often that people from the beauty community delve into deeper, more meaningful topics. Love that you’re a hub of useful insight and advice.

  4. You are so eloquent with words, so well spoken. This is a very well-written dissection of our habits as human beings… Once we recognize what we would rather not, we are able to grow.

  5. Hey that’s the awesome post buddy like please keep posting such a awesome article thank’s a lot….. 🙂

  6. Alma Bayomi says:

    I appreciate this post because it really makes me think that I should look twice and third time could be confirmed or a red warning light! And to also know myself and make changes that are good and represent who I am exactly. Thank You for writing this article. I am constantly told by one family member that I have changed into a very grumpy person. So in laughter I do admit it because this person insults my intelligence. I will just have to find a way to get over this person’s accusations!!

  7. This post was truly enlightening. I’ve always known that I tend to be attracted to the “idea of a person” more than the person himself, but this really helped me to understand why I feel this way.
    I am subscribed to your YouTube channel and was inspired to explore your website after watching your latest advice video. As a 15 year old girl, I find your knowledge and insights to be extremely helpful to my life. I am in the process of figuring out who I want to be and what I want to do with my time here on earth; that being said, I am glad to have found you and your wisdom to help me in my journey. Thank you for this post and all your others. I will be a reader and subscriber as long as you continue.

  8. I really enjoy reading your blog stories. I’d be interested in hearing/reading your view point on… a person’s character vs their reputation.
    🙂

  9. as usual beautifuly said,well written and sucha smarty pants;) wise beyond ur years..its rare to find beautiful ppl both inside n out. i love reading and watching ur vids.

  10. Amazing blog post as usual! I wish there were more of them to read – you really have to get back to your blog, Nur! I love your perspective on life and how you articulate your thoughts and ideas so well. I swear I could read anything you write forever. You have this beautiful energy to you that just attracts people in – even through a computer screen! I’m actually writing about you for one of my assignments because we have to write about someone we admire and give examples explaining why. I couldn’t think of a better role model than you!

    I was wondering if you had any books to recommend about getting to know yourself better and expressing ideas like you, so eloquently do yourself. I would appreciate that greatly.

    Thanks! <3

    • I cried reading this. Beyond honored that you would choose to write about me, thank you so much.

      As far as a book recommendation, unfortunately I don’t have one, but I can do some digging around to see if there’s one I like. I had a wonderful 11th grade teacher that taught me how to write well and also taught the architecture of language. If we understand possibility, we can explore more, play with language, and even break rules. I keep two things in mind when I write: 1) write for my audience, not for myself and 2) don’t be boring. 😉

  11. God bless your soul for doing what you do for everyone. Your information really shed a ray of light after being in complete darkness. Gracias

  12. Hi ! I just sea your YouTube vídeo on “How to deal with a breakup” … I dont understand the purpose of the list of good qualities. I ve replayed your explanations several times and still dont see to understand. Can you help me?

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