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Pigs get a tough rap. The word pig has evolved to not only include our porcine brethren, but includes human who exhibit slovenly and gluttonous behaviors.  Because we associate these negative behaviors with pigs, we’ve also evolved a series of quotes related to pigs in various social situations. One of the classics is, “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow (female pig) ear.”

Another popular variant is, “you can put a pig in a dress, it’s still a pig.” The underlying concept is actually a sound one. When you try to change the nature of an animal, you are doomed to failure. The nature of a pig is based on thousands of years of evolutionary behavior. No matter how hard you try, you simply are not going to change the nature of the pig.

Yet we ignore this lesson on a daily basis. Over and over again I see people  dressing up the pig and expecting him to act less pig like. Past actions are a good indicator of future behavior. If an individual is regularly breaking promises to you, do not expect that he is magically going to change his behavior because he’s got a new, fancy dress on. The odds are not in your favor.

I’m like anyone else. I love a story of redemption. I love to see someone overcome the odds and make a positive change. Heck, it’s what I spend a good chunk of my life helping people do! Making lifestyle changes is all about finding a way to transform behaviors. The thing is, I understand fully who has to make the change. When I’m helping someone with a physical transformation, I don’t need to do the work. They do.  You can show them the way. You can offer inspiration. You can offer a shoulder. You can’t make them do the work.

On a more critical level, you cannot ever make someone change their basic nature. Your actions will not make them into a better person. If you do something just right, it’s not going to make the person love you more. It’s not going to keep them from hitting you. It is not going to keep them from taking advantage of you. Remember, your actions cannot control the actions of another. You can’t take a pig, dress it up in a dress and expect it to be the belle of the ball.

When you are dealing with someone who lies to you, who belittles you, or who hits you, remember this- that person is a pig. No matter how you dress it up, what excuses you give, the person is still a pig. You cannot effect change in that individual.

The only change you can effect is a change in you. Walk away. Remove yourself from that situation and that person. I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. Remember that you are worth it.

Unlike pigs, humans do have the potential to rise above our nature. The key is that it’s an individual decision. It’s not yours. Don’t encourage the pig to wander around in the dress. It annoys the pig and upsets you.