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Do People Ever Really Change? Navigating the Depths and Complexities of Personal Transformation

By Diane Bruno February 02, 2024 Mindset

We have all encountered individuals who, for various reasons, let us down and led to the dissolution of relationships. The universe, however, has a peculiar way of orchestrating reunions, reigniting the age-old question – do people ever truly change? As we look back on relationships lost and opportunities missed, the realization dawns that personal transformation, in all its complexity, demands not only substantial effort and commitment but also a profound understanding of our human nature.

In my role as a life coach and through personal introspection, I have always been intrigued by the complex nature of change. It encompasses struggles with procrastination affecting productivity, struggling with unforgiving tendencies hindering relationships, and confronting severe transformations such as overcoming addiction and toxic behaviors.

The Foundation of Change: Recognition, Purpose, and Sustainability

The journey of change begins with a foundation built on recognition, purpose, and sustainability. It requires a deep understanding of what parts/habits of our lives need transformation, why such change is imperative, and how sustainable it can be. The initial step involves acknowledging the areas that need modification and making a conscious commitment to address them. This commitment becomes the driving force behind the transformative journey.

Moreover, recognizing the triggers for negative behavior is pivotal. A mantra I learned from a therapist – “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical” – underscores that overreactions and behavioral patterns often link back to past triggers rather than a logical response to the present situation. Identifying and understanding these triggers not only helps in addressing immediate issues but also lays the groundwork for meaningful change.

Navigating Change: Practical Steps to Transformation

To facilitate change, one must devise practical steps that serve as guideposts on the transformative journey:


Engage in regular self-assessment. Understand your behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. Self-awareness is the cornerstone of meaningful transformation.

Set Realistic Goals

Break down the desired change into manageable, achievable goals. This not only makes the process less daunting but also provides a roadmap for progress.

Seek Support

Transformation is not a solitary endeavor. Whether through friends, family, or professional guidance, having a support system is crucial in navigating the challenges of change.

Mindfulness Practices

Incorporate mindfulness into daily routines. This involves staying present, observing thoughts without judgment, and fostering a deeper understanding of oneself. Mindfulness serves as a powerful tool for breaking free from ingrained patterns.

Celebrate Progress

Acknowledge and celebrate the small victories along the way. Recognizing progress reinforces the commitment to change.

Vetting Sustainable Change: A Critical Examination

In evaluating whether a person has genuinely cultivated and sustained a change, it’s crucial to implement a vetting process. Here are ways to assess the authenticity of transformation:

Consistency Over Time

Genuine change is marked by consistency. Evaluate whether the individual has consistently exhibited the desired changes over an extended period. Sustainable transformation isn’t an overnight phenomenon but a gradual process.

Behavioral Patterns

Pay attention to behavioral patterns. Have healthier alternatives replaced problematic behaviors? Sustainable change involves not just suppressing old habits but actively adopting new, positive ones.

Open Communication

Engage in open and honest communication. A person committed to change should be willing to discuss their journey, challenges faced, and strategies employed. Transparency is a sign of genuine transformation.

Feedback from Others

Seek feedback from those you trust who have observed the individual’s behavior closely. External perspectives can provide valuable insights into whether the change is perceived as authentic, lasting, and more than just “window dressing.”


A person genuinely committed to change takes responsibility for their actions. Assess whether the individual acknowledges mistakes, learns from them, and takes steps to avoid repeating them.

Embracing Imperfection: The Unchanging Core and Mindful Progress

In my experience, the essence of who we are, our so-called DNA of sorts, remains constant. If you’ve been a procrastinator or battled addictive tendencies, these elements may persist. However, the key lies in making a conscious effort to keep these tendencies at bay and actively work toward being the person you aspire to be.

As we proudly age, our perspectives shift, and relationships take on new meanings. When considering welcoming someone back into your life, it is imperative to reassess your standards, sensitivities and needs in evaluating genuine transformation in the other person. Have they truly implemented change, or does it merely appear so? This determination lies solely with you – you have the power to accept or reject the relationship. Never settle for toxicity!

The Ever-Evolving Journey of Change: A Mindful Approach

For the changes you’ve embraced, take pride in your journey. Understand that old habits, no matter how negative, are a part of your unique makeup, and there’s no shame in that. Every individual faces challenges, and embracing your true self is a testament to resilience.

Notable change is an ongoing process that requires regular nurturing to be sustainable. While the core may remain unchanged, the journey toward positive transformation is a testament to your commitment to personal growth. Change is not a one-time event but a continuous evolution.

As we navigate the difficulties of life, we come to realize that change is not about erasing our past but understanding it, learning from it, and consciously choosing a different path. The intricacies of our journey, the victories, and even the setbacks contribute to our identity.

The realization that change is an ever-evolving journey will prompt us to adopt a mindful approach. Embrace each step with awareness, acknowledging that transformation is not linear. It involves peaks and valleys, and the key is to stay committed to the process, learning, and growing with each experience.

Remember that it’s not about becoming someone completely different but about unearthing the best version of yourself. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the victories, and continue this journey with the understanding that the pursuit of positive transformation is a lifelong commitment to self-discovery and growth.

I welcome your thoughts and experiences!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What is your experience with change? Have you undergone big character changes? What are they? Do you think a person can change and in what ways?

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What an inspiring article. I have embarked on a journey of conscious change and its not always easy but your article is a helpful reminder. Thank you!

Diane Bruno

Hi Clare! I’m glad you found my article helpful. I wish you the best on your journey and remember to afford yourself some grace along the way!

Diane Bruno

Hi Clare

Thanks so much, glad you found it inspiring. If there are any topics you would like to see me cover – let me know!


Actions always speak louder than words – pay attention!
You can change your shoes and change your diet, but honestly at this age – change isn’t happening.

Diane Bruno

Lauren, while words do have power – actions are the proof! Thanks for your comment :)


“If it’s hysterical, it’s historical.”

I’d never heard this before, but recognize it in behavior of coworkers & clients, neighbors, friends – and myself! Something to remember… Thank you.

Diane Bruno

Hi Sharie! Thank you – That mantra has helped me so much during my life. Whenever I react strongly I always see it as an opportunity to ask myself why – I usually learn something valuable about myself :)

Renee Lovitz

Most people don’t really change.
If someone shows you who they are, pay attention!!


Renee, I wholeheartedly agree with you. This thinking can be applied to the “dating game”. My mother always said that men are on their best behavior during the initial stages of dating, but usually will let their guards down at some point, when they get comfortable in the relationship. So, beware ladies who are single and dating, and pay close attention to warning signs.


Joyce, the same is true for most of us – male AND female.

Diane Bruno

Janel, sooo true!

Diane Bruno

Sage advice – VERY true!

Marin Shanley

Thank you so much for this clear, comprehensive and, in my mind, absolutely spot-on examination of how we succeed in enacting change in ourselves. I completely agree that this is a process of “unearthing the best version of ourselves,” much like peeling away the onion layers or Michaelangelo’s quote about creating his David by “carving away everything that was not David.”

As a longtime member of the recovery community, I have been on this journey for quite some time and echo your premise that it takes much ongoing committment to the effort and dedication to a mindful life. It also takes open-mindedness, humility and the willingness to actually practice new and sometimes unfamiliar patterns and attitudes.

Thank you again for this most valuable piece of writing.

Diane McDonald

I whole heartedly agree with you and the author of this article. I just want to add that there are often ups and downs throughout the process of living a life of self actualization, so just keep going , growing, and learning. It is so worth the journey!

Diane Bruno

Marin, you are very welcome! I wish you continued success on your journey – always remember to afford yourself some grace and be proud of what you have already accomplished.

The Author

Diane Bruno is the founder of Diane Bruno Life Coach and Diane Bruno Freelance. She is passionate about empowering women to live authentically! In her role as a Certified Life Coach, she is dedicated to guiding and partnering with her clients, committed to their success through life's challenges and opportunities.

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