It can be difficult to assess between temporary shifts in a persons character from more permanent transformations. Early on, both look very similar with immediate adjustments, periodic relapses, and hopeful promises. After a year, time becomes the best indicator of continued change. But when a marriage, vocation or family hinges on sustained modification of behavior, it is extremely important to know the difference quickly. So how can a person discern between the two? Here are twenty ways:

  1. Responsibility vs. Blame. A person who willingly takes full responsibility for their actions is very different from a person seeking to share the blame with others.
  2. Peace vs. Rage. Is the person seeking ways to find peace in relationships or are they actively pursuing opportunities to rage?
  3. Forgiveness vs. Resentment. An attitude of forgiveness is ideal compared with harboring resentment for past events.
  4. Encouragement vs. Insults. Words of encouragement inspire while insults degrade. The words a person chooses to say reveals the condition of their heart.
  5. Self-control vs. Other-control. It takes determination, discipline and time to regain self-control. By contrast, a person blames others for their continued misbehavior thereby giving others control.
  6. Other-counsel vs. Self-counsel. A person actively engaged in healing seeks counsel from professionals rather than listening to their own advice.
  7. Action vs. Idleness. Change requires many small and large action steps to secure new habits regardless of how a motivated a person feels. Standing still and waiting for motivation to move drags out the process of change.
  8. Inward Contentment vs. Outward Acceptance. Is the person fully satisfied knowing in their heart that the change is real or do they constantly seek the approval of others for validation?
  9. Purpose vs. Apathy. True transformation arouses new and stimulating purpose in life. It adds another dimension which infests nearly every situation. Compared with apathetic behavior which quickly infects any new resolve.
  10. Empathy vs. Cold-heartedness. Even those who struggle with empathy demonstrate an understanding and compassion for how their behavior impacted others. But a person, whose heart is cold, sees things from only their vantage point.
  11. Patience vs. Immediate. It takes time for others to see and grow comfortable with the conversion. A patient person allows things to happen on the other persons timetable. They are not demanding immediate acceptance without substantial evidence.
  12. Kindness vs. Meanness. How does the person interact with others? Is there an attitude of kindness or meanness?
  13. Intentionality vs. Accidental. Part of modifying behavior is being intentional about discovering triggers and actively avoiding them. A person not committed to the process minimizes this step and then accidentally falls into old habits.
  14. Wisdom vs. Reckless. Is there a desire to seek out wisdom and become astute? Or are uncontrolled thoughts and feelings manifesting in reckless behavior?
  15. Discretion vs. Negligence. A person with discretion carefully considers how their past journey damaged the lives around them and discretely discloses only when appropriate. Negligence confession considers only self and not others.
  16. Understanding vs. Opinionated. A rehabilitated person seeks opportunities to understand others and their perspective. They are not consumed with offering their own opinion.
  17. Reconciliation vs. Argumentative. When new issues arise, does the person actively work towards reconciliation or are they argumentative?
  18. Poise vs. Volatility. Anger is not an evil emotion; it is quite useful in some circumstances. Is the person able to maintain poise during these moments of frustration or does the situation quickly become volatile?
  19. Acceptance vs. Judgement. Altered thinking is accepting of differences in others without judging them harshly for their beliefs.
  20. Courage vs. Cowardice. It takes courage to admit that past behavior was wrong, work on modifying it, and then still accept the consequences. Cowardly behavior is fear based and just wants the process to be over quickly without any ramifications.