In the second chapter of our new book, Snap Strategies for Couples: 40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Pitfalls, Dr. Pepper and I go over the Refusal To Change. Here's another taste!
When you or your partner says, “That’s just the way I am,” it’s not only a refusal to change. It is a commitment to the past rather than the present or the future. It forsakes the possibility of growth, compromise, or new insight. It is a refusal to even engage in an important conversation that might allow for change. These words cut off innovation, the ability to reexamine oneself, and the ability to listen attentively, or indeed, at all.
The stubborn negation of even the consideration of change isolates partners from each other because no further discussion is possible. These few words, “I am what I am,” deliver a death sentence to a living relationship and turn it into an inert shadow of its hopeful beginning. The person who hears these words almost always feels hopelessness about the future of their relationship.
Couples therapy often encourages people to analyze why they act or feel the way they do, and trace that back to early family patterns. The bad news here is that this process sometimes makes people feel that they are wired or destined to be “the way I am,” and that all change has to flow from this insight. We find this regrettable. Individuals, like relationships, have to grow and change and anything that gets in the way is dangerous. Although there may be some fixed personality characteristics (for example, research has indicated that shyness has a genetic origin), they can usually be tinkered with and, by effort or experience, modified, grown, or truly changed.
For the other pages of the chapter and the rest of the book, order here!