“I can’t change even if I wanted to.”
How would you respond to that statement? What is your initial reaction?
When I saw this printed on a poster, I felt deep sadness for its author. What happened in their life that allowed them to believe they were stuck where they find themselves today?
Here are some general observations about each one of us:
1. You are unique.
God created you with specific physical characteristics. Blonde hair, green eyes, auburn hair, blue eyes, dark skin, light skin, tall, short, dimples, freckles, male, female. These make up the physical being, the one easily recognizable to others.
2. You have God-given personality traits.
You might be an extrovert or an introvert, have a wicked sense of humor or a dry one or be a math whiz, a musical genius, or an empathetic soul. Perhaps you love to problem-solve or design systems. Maybe you weave stories that keep others spellbound. These combine to become your natural bent. However, even personality traits can adjust and mature.
3. You know your preferences.
Spicy food is your jam. You’d choose a night on the town rather than read a book. You prefer conversations over coffee rather than a large party. Preferences change with maturity and seasons of life. Don’t confuse preferences with personality traits. Some might remain throughout your lifetime, but others morph or ebb and flow.
Let’s break down two real-life observations to disrupt this mindset.
1. “Can’t change.”
These words indicate a fixed mindset. It’s an inner belief system, perhaps rooted in pain or fear. Not too many years ago, experts believed in this fixed mindset. Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset, debunked this myth. Based on her research, Dweck shows that our minds have the fantastic ability to grow, change, learn, and adapt. God created our brains with neuroplasticity.
Other researchers, such as Dr. Caroline Leaf, concur with Dweck’s conclusions. Our brains have exceptional abilities we barely tap into. Leaf says, “You are free to choose how you focus your attention, and this affects how the chemicals and proteins and wiring of your brain change and function.”
The Bible says, “You do not have a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Where you focus your thoughts will impact your choices, resulting in certain actions. But it all starts in your mind, in what you believe. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers to grow in maturity, and he wrote to the church in Ephesus to encourage them to grow in their knowledge of God and become more like Christ.
What is the story you tell yourself?
The truth is you CAN change. It’s your God-given ability. If you say you can’t change, look in the mirror and tell yourself the truth. You CAN.
2. “Even if I wanted to.”
I find this an interesting phrase. Does this mean you want to but can’t? Reread the previous section.
Or does this mean you fear change?
For many years, I believed several false stories about myself. Some I told, but others were spoken over me. See if you can relate to any of these.
1. I’m shy.
2. I never know what to say in social situations.
3. I’m destined to be overweight because every woman in my family is.
4. My value is determined by what others will pay me for my services.
5. I could never [fill in the blank].
6. I deserve to be treated this way.
7. I don’t have what it takes to [fill in the blank].
Change immediately thrusts you into the unknown, which is a scary place for most people.
But change also brings growth, adventure, excitement, and joy. Imagine a baby who never learns to sit up, feed itself, crawl, walk, or speak. You would see that child and feel pity for them, wondering what happened to them to inhibit their normal growth. Without change, we remain growth-stunted infants. And we miss out on all God created for us to experience and enjoy.
Perhaps the words “even if I wanted to” indicate you fear something you cannot predict, control, or wrap your mind around. It takes courage to face that fear and embrace change. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” You discover grit when you face your fear instead of letting it sideline you. You realize you CAN do more than you believed. With each fear-conquering step forward, you become all God created you to be. And we need you to do that.
The next time you hear the words “I can’t change” fly out of your mouth, remember: you are more than the fear that holds you back. You will grow and change with God’s help and your decision to confront the uncomfortable.
Over 15 years ago, our marriage crisis caused us to face this decision—continue the destructive path we were on or change our ways.
Praise God for his intervention in our lives. We thrived, and our marriage survived because we chose to adopt the growth mindset, admit our fears, swallow our pride, and change.
What about you? How will you respond to that statement?
Stay stuck or change. I’d love to encourage you to move beyond your fear and become all you were designed to be.