He Said/ She Said: Can People Really Change?


Alright everyone, it’s that time again! There’s been another debate going on here at the Emma Approved offices, and this time the subject is whether or not people can really change. I say that anyone can be inspired at anytime to be anything, and my partner Alex Knightley argues that even if people change their actions or goals, who they are at their core never alters. So we’re going to bring it to you guys and see what you think. Feel free to respond in the comments below!

Emma’s Argument:

People are inspired everyday and at every age. Sometimes it’s a book we read or a song we hear, and sometimes it’s a person we admire and want to be like, such as a parent or teacher. And it happens constantly. Sometimes inspiration reinforces what we already believe but other moments change us, take us down new paths, and turn us into new versions of ourselves. It’s part of the ever-evolving process of deciding what kind of people we want to be and what we want to do with our lives.

I believe, in the end, what we all want is to be happy. Hand in hand with that is the possibility that at any time we can have an experience that will change what we think happiness is or how we can achieve it. People change all the time – some easily and some with lots of effort – but it can be done. Even negative experiences, such as being envious of the way another person is feeling or an experience they are having, , can inspire us to rethink previous notions of who we are and what we need. Personally, I believe that anything is possible and no one should ever give up trying to be the best person they can be!

Alex’s Argument:

It’s not that I disagree that people can grow in new directions. But that doesn’t mean the person actually changes. Someone’s instincts and natural inclinations can be overcome but not eliminated.

For example, a person who has always put their career first can decide that family is more important than business. But the reasons for the change do not necessarily indicate a fundamental change in character. Maybe this person prefers life to be smooth and easy.  And for a long time, focusing on a career seemed much simpler then dealing with relationships. But if you neglect the personal, family and friends can become dissatisfied or upset, and demand more time and attention. And that chaos will eventually bleed back into professional life. One’s focus needs to shift to people in order to keep all the different parts of life rolling along smoothly.

Ultimately, this is still a person who values the easy road. That fundamental part of who they are hasn’t altered. They haven’t changed. They have just found new ways to get what they want. That’s not necessarily wrong, but it’s an example of what I believe: we are who we are. Yes, you can be the best version of yourself, but the key word is version. It’s still you.

Emma’s Rebuttal and Conclusion:

THAT sounds like the person doing the observing is the one who refuses to change, to see things differently. Perception is a large part of every endeavor, and it won’t matter how much a person changes or attempts to change if others refuse to acknowledge their efforts. Change may not be easy, but it’s impossible if others refuse to see it or respond to it.

Constantly finding a way to frame different ways of doing something in old patterns of thinking does a disservice to the one who is trying to move forward. It makes it harder for them to judge themselves, to make good choices, or to take others into account. If a tree falls in the woods, or a person changes who they are, does it even count if there is no one there to see it? Just as we can change what we do, we can also change how we see things, and even how we feel when doing what we’ve always done. That is impossible to judge except from the inside out. I know that change is possible because of my own efforts to change. And sorry Mr. Knightley, but you simply cannot argue with that.

Alex Rebuttal and Conclusion:

As a witness to your recent efforts to change, I feel I can offer some insight and opinions. I’ve watched you look at people differently, question your instincts as you never used to, and listen more.  Yet your motives – your desire to help, and your genuine excitement when someone achieves something new – are exactly the same.

You shouldn’t have used yourself as an example. Because you may be working on HOW you try to help people, but the WHY is the same person I have always known. And I don’t think you want to argue with that. So….checkmate.


Hmm.  It looks like Alex and I will just have to agree to disagree. But I want to know what you guys think. Can someone truly change, or are the changes we make just different versions of our core selves? Can’t wait to see what you have to say!