Abuse, Alienation From Self, Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Community, Ethics, Eudaimonia, Human Nature, Life, Living, Morals, Oppression, Quality of Life, Relationships, Self-Flourishing, Society, Well Being

When It’s Cool to Try to Change Someone

(About a 3 minute read)

In our world
Are things which should never be violated
That are violated.

A Death in the Spring

Is not the question a bit more complex than “to be or not to be”?  To live or to die?

For if we chose to live, then question becomes what is the good life, the best life our species of great ape is allowed by the gods to aspire to?

That’s one question no sane person wants to screw up when answering.  What is the best life we can live?

To me, the best we can aspire to is to live as true to ourselves as possible and still be socially and environmentally responsible.

To me, our true selves — and the true selves of other people — are among the sacred things of this earth.  The things that we ordinarily have no right at all to violate and profane.

Others might name other things best or more sacred — things other than authenticity.   Wealth, power, gods, happiness, purpose, and love seem to be among the more frequent answers.  But to me none of those is truly capable of being realized by an inauthentic man or woman.

What is even a billion dollars if you are not true to yourself when making it or spending it?  Think on that question for awhile, and perhaps you will see my point.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” — Mark 8:36.

Knowing human nature, there has in this bizarre would of ours already lived a billionaire who bought a yacht that wasn’t him or her, then spent years aboard it cruising paradisaical islands while snorting coke out of lost and lonely boredom with their party boat.

No matter how exciting life is, mere excitements are no substitutes for living passionately.

But if being true to yourself really is all that important, then does anyone ever have a right to try to change your thinking or behavior?

It seems to me obvious that we should live in ways socially and environmentally responsible — and that we can be held accountable for, say, dumping toxic waste in the city’s drinking water.  But that leaves a huge gap — a huge question.

Suppose your friend is seriously harming herself in ways that yet harm no one else, nor the world — do you have a right to intervene to prevent or stop her from purely self-harm?

Some good folks might say there is a higher power (such as a god) or a higher law (such as a law of nature) that gives you the right to intervene.   But I don’t have eyes sharp enough to see that.  It might be true or not.  I myself wouldn’t know.

Here’s what I believe I do know. You do indeed have a right to intervene in some reasonable way if — and it’s a big “if” — if your intervention is aimed and and likely to bring about their being true to themselves.

If not, then you have no right to intervene.

And that’s basically it.   That’s pretty much the essence of it.   But how do you yourself see the issue?

This post was inspired by a poem on Suki’s blog that can be found here.

17 thoughts on “When It’s Cool to Try to Change Someone”

  1. I believe that living true to yourself is the essence of this life, it’s a great courage that few can achieve…People are so afraid to be true to their-selves, they rather go with the flow and sometimes live as per other’s norms and rules, this is why they live and probably die unhappy and there’s always something missing even after they buy this yacht, this villa, these fancy clothes…whatever material stuff or having certain people…At the end there’s something missing…
    Yes you can intervene if the other party is allowing you to, and if you can help it would be great but at the end if the person is rejecting help or not helping themselves, our intervention is useless
    Great post, thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, Huguetta, that fear usually plays a role in dissuading people from being more true to themselves. But recently, I’ve become very interested in the role played by the falsehoods people are taught about authenticity almost from their birth. I think a lot of people who want to live more authentic lives don’t know how to do so, and they have been taught and encouraged to betray themselves instead.

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems to me that many people don’t know (or care to know) what it means to be true to oneself — perhaps some of them (as previous commenter Huguetta suggested) because they’re afraid to face what they might find their true selves to be. I also agree with Huguetta about intervention (and her opinion about this post).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re certainly onto it, MM. You pretty much cover the bases there. The only thing I might add is that I believe a lot of people who want to be authentic don’t know how — mainly because they have not been taught how.


  3. I don’t think anybody who has reached a certain level of maturity minds being shown new options.

    The question you have to ask is, “Who benefits?” If the answer is “They do,” then go ahead; if the answer is “I do,” tread carefully.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t think encouraging someone to be more true to themselves is the same as asking them to change. The former urges a person to take off the false cloak they’ve chosen, to reveal the truth of who they are. Viewed that way, it’s quite the opposite of asking them to change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Spot on, Amanda! There is a key sense in which you are not changing or even trying to change them at all. Great point! And I think you have just identified the reason why intervention in such cases is decent and good.

      We only seem to disagree on a minor point. To me, getting someone on track is something I would call effecting a change. Maybe not in them, but in their lives.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I see that. I think it’s possibly a semantic difference in a way. Ultimately, I agree that suggesting someone let go of something to allow their true self to be revealed is to effect change.

        Liked by 1 person

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