You can’t change anyone?

Image: James Pritchett

I forget who, but someone far older and wiser explained this to me when I was a kid…

You can’t change anyone, so it’s best to not even try.

I think it’s a wise belief.

But there’s more to it than that. See…

You can’t change anyone UNLESS their model of the world changes.

You and I, right now — even if we were sitting next to each other in the same room — would be seeing two different worlds.

We each have our own model of the world. Our very own filter we experience the world through. This model is built from, and creates, our unique experience.

It’s a constant feedback loop:

We live and experience things…
We build our model off of these experiences…
Our life is experienced through this model…

See, I have this hangup with wasps and hornets (even bees, sometimes). When I’m in the presence of something that flies and stings, I’m taken straight to fight/flight mode. I’ll either run away or I’ll wield the biggest, heaviest, most blunt object I can to try to kill it — broken windows and all. Or, if there’s no weapons around me, I’ll throw punches.

It’s really fun, you should see it some time...

Anyways, if you were to try to ‘change’ me by trying to convince me to be less fearful of wasps through a direct command, like, “Dude, Jonas, wasps won’t bother you if you don’t bother them,” (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this), you’d fail.

The old saying would hold true. You wouldn’t change me.

But if you could somehow alter my model of the world, you’d win.

Say you brought me in a room where you knew there was a wasp nest and you didn’t let me see it and you had music up really loud so I couldn’t hear them, and then, after some time, upon leaving, you told me that I was just hanging out with wasps in the same room for 45 minutes and they didn’t sting me — then my model would start to change.

Or even if you told me a story that had rapport with my current worldview, but that tweaked an element or two about it, my model would slowly start to change.

Model-changing is not for the faint of heart or for someone on a time crunch. But it’s the only way.

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