A Leopard Can't Change it's Spots

United States
February 17, 2008 4:14pm CST
This idiom means that people cannot change basic aspects of their character, especially negative ones. Do you agree with this? I think this saying is words to live by. I myself find it to be particularly true about myself. This may come as a big surprise to some but I haven't always been the greatest or most moral of people. I have done a lot of very bad things to a lot of people. I always fall back on my favorite defense of "I never cast the first stone." I did the things I did only because I was provoked into doing them. I haven't had to do anything mean, nasty, or morally reprehensible for quite some time now so one who knows me might get it into their head that I have changed. That I am no longer capable of such hateful acts. They would be wrong. A really close friend of mine said to me on the phone just the other day after I got done telling them what I would do to someone if they did something particularly nasty to me that he was flabbergasted. That he had thought I had changed. He thought I had gotten "better" I said you are dang right I got better. Better at it! So at least for me I believe in all certainty that a leopard cannot change it's spots. They may disguise themselves as a house cat for a good long while but the claws are still there right underneath the surface and just as sharp as ever. So do you agree or can you offer me an example of your own where you have seen a leopard truly change it's life around?
3 people like this
10 responses
@livewyre (2455)
18 Feb 08
I believe that the essential 'you' is in many ways fixed and as you say 'can't change it's spots'. However, we can certainly change our behaviour. the best example I can think of is the difference between 'prejudice' and 'discrimination'. We are ALL prejudice, we judge what we see or what we experience. When I see a racial type or a person with a disability or even a young person or and old person, I have a range of expectations of that individual based on what I can see - This is prejudice plain and simple and everyone who can see makes a judgment based on what they see. Discrimination on the other hand is putting that prejudice into action, by avoiding the disabled person or talking down to the child, ignoring the older person.... We can't control prejudice but we can all do something to prevent it from spilling over into discrimination. Can a leopard change it's spots? No, can it change it's growl to a purr, Yes! I think by stating that a person isn't able to change his/her behaviour, we could be giving them and excuse to behave badly. If you haven't had to do anything 'mean, nasty, or morally reprehensible' for a while, surely that is a good thing and hopefully to be continued, maybe you won't have to behave like that ever again... When you think about it, it's actually harder to remain the same, but temper your behaviour than it would be to just experience a total change from deep within which rendered you unable to behave like you did previously. I would say, hat's off to the people who still feel the anger (and have the sharp claws), but are able to deal with it without hurting anybody.
1 person likes this
@chunter (1761)
• Singapore
18 Feb 08
That idiom probably applies to some nasty people around....but not all people... I used to be more brute in the past, but am more gentle and calm now....Time will change a leopard, well, a leopard will grow old and die in the end... But like you said, some personalities and characteristics of people will always remain and some of these could be bad and evil... I don't usually care about bad or evil people as much since they will get bad karma and own dessert in life...I just steer clear and move away from them....That's a wiser move in my opinion
1 person likes this
@skinnychick (6907)
• United States
17 Feb 08
I can give you an example of one changing, it's me. Before I got sick, I was a fighter. I could argue and fight, I never ever would admit to anyone I was wrong even when I knew I was. I was stubborn and I always won every fight at least in my mind. Somewhere along the line growing up, because of a ton I went through and a ton I put myself through, I lost the ability to love. This meant people, stuff I like to do, and life in general. In my way younger days I was a scrapper, ok quit laughing, I would never back down from anything- physical or otherwise- I didn't care who you were. I started getting older and realized that I had lost my romantic, loving, emotional side. I thought having a kid would help that and it didn't. I was so miserable with negative energy that I created for myself and that others lended a hand in. I didn't dislike everyone but the majority of people around me I did. I was very hyper critical. Then I got sick and had a lot of time and good reason to re-evaluate my life and my inner self. This was the hardest thing I had ever been through. When you look inside yourself and look at your life and it makes you sicker than any Cancer could there is a huge life problem that I felt had to be fixed. So I turned to Buddhism and some other non traditional faiths-( which work for me- not trying to push them on anyone), put them all together and found myself. I got back to the loving emotional me that was always there but I locked away, replaced by that angry me. I walk away from arguments in real life most of the time because the negative energy isn't worth it to me. That's not to say that I let people bully me or that I don't defend myself because I more than do that. I just do it much more calmly when the person that I'm arguing with has calmed down and can discuss something intelligently. I'm not perfect at it, far from it. I get frustrated and angry but now I just deal with it much better. I have learned that life is too short to not make the most of it, which is now what I do and how I live it.
• United States
17 Feb 08
I knew someone was going to do this. LOL You stated that you will give me an example of how YOU changed...yet towards the end you write "put them all together and found myself. I got back to the loving emotional me that was always there" If it was always there darlin, even when you were a "scapper" (yeah still laughing)how can it be a change? I'm sure it was a change in that you allowed the more loving, romantic, positive side of yourself shine through instead of the fighter you showed people for so long but it isn't like that loving side wasn't in you from the beginning, just hidden under a different coat. So you didn't change your spots. You just took off the coat that was covering it up. :)
• United States
18 Feb 08
I never thought about it that way..ok I'll give you that one. Great way of looking at it. :) I just deal with things better then and that coat is PINK!! LOL
@novataylor (6572)
• United States
18 Feb 08
Cyn, I read Skinny's response and thought the exact same thing as you said to her. She didn't change, she simply took off that coat. I think that it's true for most people too. We are who we are. We may go through periods of time when we take on other personae, other methods of handling things, where we try on other 'coats' and try to become tougher, or softer, or more sophisticated, or whatever, but in the end, we are who we are who we are. I've tried to be harder and less receptive to the emotional lives of those around me, but to no avail. I have to be what I am. Anything else is simply false. So, if you know someone who is a cheater, or a liar, or a louse of any kind, I mean really, and deep down, then that's what they're going to be, no matter what you do. You can't change anyone. The only thing you can change is how you react to things. That's it. You can work on your reactions and responses to what happens to you and around you, and you can become calmer, more rational, or quicker to defend, but the core you never changes. Nope, never. I've had a whole lot of time to ponder this and I have pondered it. That's why I'm so insistent on what I'm saying here. I know I'm right. :)
• United States
18 Feb 08
I know you're right too :) I like the way you said "we just try on different coats." I am going to use this the next time I try to explain to someone that I am still as I have always been. See if that makes it through to them. Thanks Nova. Words of wisdom are always appreciated from you.
@IceMagi2 (102)
• United States
19 Feb 08
As far as I know no one can change their way of living and the way that they act.
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
18 Feb 08
Well in general maybe, because for someone to change there is to be a really will to do so and a commitment to keep the change. Sure people can change, both for better and for worse - I'm assured that it's easier for worse :) But people often don't want to or don't want to enough. It doesn't mean that the "claws" as you say in your post disappear and are not there anymore, just that the person is now in control on what to do with them. Changing doesn't mean turn someone into someone else, more like being aware and learn to control what they want to change. Not understanding this is the major mistake people make. THey think that by changing it means that the impulses will not be there anymore. Wrong, it just means that they know about them and choose to control them. And yes, I've seen many leopards truly changing.
@SViswan (12071)
• India
18 Feb 08
Hey! I changed spots! Well...not totally...I do have a few left! And I like it this way. Actually I've changed so much that I don't recognize myself anymore...lol Ok..getting serious here....yes, I have changed a lot over the years and it would be easier to tell you what hasn't changed in me than what has. But I think it's all for the good. And it's not just superficial changes ....deep down too I think differently....like I'm more patient and would give people the benefit of the doubt...unless they repeatedly prove that they are idiots! And personally I think it depends on the leopard alone...and if it does or doesn't want to change it's spots.
• United States
18 Feb 08
I'm agree with you, poeple has different caracter, Uniue and no body has same at all things even if they're Twins. You don't need to change your self because of another poeple opinion, just keep on being yourself..
• United States
18 Feb 08
I say People can change if they want to and actually changed. It does seem very unlikely that they won't change.
• United States
18 Feb 08
Cyn I always say there are parts of myself that absolutely no one on this earth knows. They are mine alone and I own them. Part of these secret hidden things is what you are talking about here. A leopard that can not change its spots. I have in my life appropriated certain aspects of my personality and hidden them. Therefore seeming to have changed. But they are still there under lock and key and may at any time if given the right circumstances be set free. Some of them should never see the light of day again and it would render me prisoner of my own making should they be at large. But I am with you here Cyn, A leopard can not change its spots it can only learn how to hide them and keep them from view.