This one is based on the assumption that you really can have control over the behavior of others. While sometimes people do change if you ask them, the fallacy of change reflects the belief that you can make people different if you just apply sufficient pressure. This is ignorant of one basic fact of human behavior: people change only when they are reinforced to change and capable of change. In other words, people change when they want to, not when you want them to.
Expecting people to change leads to frustration and disillusion. If you can’t find a way to make them want to change, you have undertaken a quixotic mission—you are tilting at windmills.
Exercise: Think about and answer the following questions.
1. How many times have you made a major change and sustained it because someone pressured you to do so?
2. What percentage of the people you have known have made a major metamorphosis to satisfy the needs of someone else?
3. How often have you succeeded in changing someone by pressuring him or her with anger?
1. “The amount of support, help, and nourishment I am now getting is all I can get, given the strategies I am using.”
2. “People only change when they are reinforced to change and capable of change.”
3. “People only change when they want to.”