by "Irish" Johnny Harvey


August 2010


Many people believe it is hard to change.  Some even believe it is impossible because they don’t think they can learn new ways of thinking and living.  They believe they are so entrenched in their lifestyle that there’s no getting out.  Some believe that even if they try to change they won’t be accepted by others because of their past.  They also have a hard time changing because memories of the past about them, or old associates, places and things have a stronghold on their lives.  Peer pressure and socially sanctioned self-imposed limitations that have become normalized behavior play a huge part in the discouragement of this process as well.

Just like we learned to be the way we are over a period of time, we must relearn this new way of thinking and living over a period of time.  We must stay focused so that our new learning will become greater than the old and overcome it.  In the process we will create new memories.  We will always have the old ones-they are a part of our history, but just like our new learning will overcome our old ways, our new memories will overcome our old memories.

As far as being accepted is concerned, it takes time, but if we do something long enough, eventually we become what we are doing.  For instance, if we practice being a morally sound, law-abiding person long enough, pretty soon we actually become such a person.  As this takes place, others recognize our new self and are attracted to this person.  They may be attracted to us because they are also law-abiding people and desire to associate with people like themselves (the birds of a feather philosophy), or they may be people that desire to change themselves and see how you have been successful and want you to share with them how they can accomplish this as well.

Some questions you may have in trying to receive help or in trying to help someone else change may be:
What happens when a person doesn’t want to change and believes that there is nothing wrong with living a criminal lifestyle due to the fact that it has become a socially sanctioned self-imposed limitation in their life and normalized behavior?

The answer to this is to show them the consequences of their behavior are self-defeating.  We also have to teach them that just because this may have been socially sanctioned in their lives and has become normalized doesn’t make it right.  We have to show them how this thinking and behaving goes against pro-social behavior and is destructive to them and others.  Through the use of examples we have to show them the distortions and other errors in their thinking and try to get them to embrace the truth we are sharing with them.  We show them that this truth is designed to bring about what is best for them in their life.  It is in their best self interest.  If we can get them to embrace it and start to believe in it, then we can work on getting them to discipline themselves to work through changing.  In our work we use a three-part working definition for discipline:

Discipline-working definition

  1. To know what you believe

  2. To be a disciple of what you believe

  3. To live your values, particularly in times of crisis

You may ask:
What happens when a person doesn’t know what he/she believes?
Again, the task is to teach them to believe in the fact that the law-abiding, pro-social lifestyle is in their own best interest.  Living in this manner will bring about the healthiest, safest, best quality of life possible for them, their families and all those around them.

These are just some thoughts on change that I wanted to share with you in hopes that they will encourage someone to take that first step to change in their life for the better.  It was inspired by reflecting on something the Holy Spirit told me many years ago…Change or die!