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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Things Change

A lot has changed since I was born, and why wouldn’t this be the case? Everyone I’ve ever known, currently know, and will ever know also experiences constant change, and why shouldn’t they?

It isn’t as though I’m unaware of the fact that everything in life is in a constant state of flux. Rigid demands about how things shouldn’t, mustn’t, or oughtn’t to change are driven by irrational beliefs and are largely unhelpful to me.

Nonetheless, my mind will randomly drift into absurdity when I convince myself that thing X or person Y shouldn’t change. Despite use of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), on a daily basis, unreasonable assumptions are ever-present.

It is because I frequently practice REBT that I don’t disturb myself by layering unhealthy belief on top of other unhelpful attitudes. I unconditionally accept myself as a fallible human being while also unconditionally accepting the imperfection of life.

After all, the ever-changing hip hop music I’ve enjoyed throughout the years has presented me with messages of constant evolution. It’s not like I don’t have reminders about how things change.

On their 1996 album The Final Tic, hip hop group Crucial Conflict showcased a track entitled “Life Ain’t the Same.” The hook states, “Life just ain’t the same (Life ain’t the same). Life just ain’t the same (Coming up in the new game).”

At the time when the album was released, I endured a childhood of abuse and was awaiting my flight date for Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. A lot changed prior to 1996 and much has changed since then.

On his 1997 album Vendetta, rapper Mic Geronimo featured a song called “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be.” On it, he stated:

Life is like a bid, but it won’t do me. Mentally, these are the things that I should not see. And I’m standing here counting all the casualties, ‘cause things ain’t nothing really like they used to be.

Taking account of his life, the entertainer discussed a self-disturbing narrative. Mic Geronimo expressed that he shouldn’t have to witness catastrophe in life.

Still, rather than being captured by a victimhood narrative, the rapper compared his life to a prison sentence and expressed how he wouldn’t succumb to suffering. This is an expression of tolerance and acceptance regarding those matters in life over which he had no control.

In 1998, two years following his death, 2Pac’s album Greatest Hits was released and contained a joint called “Changes.” Though the track is rife with victimhood ideology, the rapper states during an interlude in the song:

We gotta make a change. It’s time for us, as a people, to start makin’ some changes. Let’s change the way we eat. Let’s change the way we live. And let’s change the way we treat each other. You see, the old way wasn’t workin’, so it’s on us to do what we gotta do to survive.

Though I largely disagree with the content of 2Pac’s whining in “Changes,” I can appreciate his interlude. I, too, once thought in a collectivist fashion—valuing societal change over personal responsibility and accountability.

I was once naïve enough to fall for the trappings of social justice-inspired “change” which was promoted on a social, cultural, and global level. I was ignorant at the time and bobbed my head to music promoting messages similar to 2Pac’s “Changes.”

While existentialism generally theorizes that we as humans remain in a constant state of change, we are encouraged to change our own lives rather than shoulding on the world around us. This is the difference between an autoplastic (changing one’s self to adapt to the environment) versus alloplastic (effecting change in the environment) perspective.

I consider much of the rhetoric espoused by social justice activists—many of whom apparently favor 2Pac as some sort of revolutionary hero—as relating to alloplasticity. For instance, so-called “communities” are said to exist in a constant state of victimhood (e.g., black people).

With no foreseeable endpoint to this seemingly inescapable condition of perceived victimization, the changes which are addressed by 2Pac serve as little more than a citation of learned helplessness. The so-called black “community” is therefore viewed as defenseless victims from an alloplastic view.

The internal locus of control (believing one’s actions have an impact) is then forsaken for the preferred external locus of control (belief that luck, chance, randomness, or other unverifiable sources) as having an impact on one’s life. After all, isn’t it easier to blame other things for undesired conditions?

Thankfully, I’ve changed my perspective over the years. Rather than whining, moaning, bitching, and complaining, I take personal ownership and effect change in my own life.

On his 2004 album Chick Magnet, Houston legend Paul Wall released a tune by the name “Did I Change.” The rapper states:

There’s one thing I’ve learned in life, man. As you get older, thangs change, you know what I’m sayin’? People change, friends change. That’s just how it go, man. I don’t know if it’s just me. Did I change? Did they change? It’s messed up. It’ll never be the same. Let me tell ya, man. It’s nothin’ like losin’ ya bro. Today, he love you. Tomorrow, you don’t know ‘em no more.

The entertainer begins with a Stoic message about how life changes and “that’s just how it go.” He then admits that “it’s messed up” how things change, expressing annoyance, frustration, or disappointment.

When working with clients through use of REBT, I assist by challenging irrational assumptions and help people to adapt more effective beliefs which better serve their interests and goals. Moving from rage, hostility, or aggression to something like annoyance, frustration, or disappointment seems to be a more productive conclusion in Paul Wall’s case.

On her 2015 album CMPLX, rapper Chelsea Reject brought forth a melodic track named “Everything’s Change.” For the chorus, she repeatedly states while the beat embraces her words, “Everything’s been changing, everything’s been changing. Everything’s been changing; somehow it’s still the same shit.”

The repetition of her words serves as a pragmatic reminder regarding the process of change. Just as I become entranced by the chorus and start to wonder, “Will the repetition ever end?” I’m reminded that such is the perception of time.

Some days, it seems as though life is moving slowly. At other times, months seem to race by without account for where the days have gone. It’s easy to get lost in a moment and forget that things change regardless of one’s impression of time.

On his 2018 album Tomorrow Could Be the Day Things Change, rapper Classified gifted the world with a song called “Changes.” In his first verse, Classified states:

As I’m writing this rhyme, I’m in my kitchen. My daughter’s trying to tell me about her day. I hear her, but not really listening. I’m staring at her, but in my head I’m putting these words together. I know that I need to do better, ‘cause what I do now could change forever.

This excerpt demonstrates the perception of time highlighted in my illustration of Chelsea Reject’s sample. Regardless of what we spend our time doing—paying attention to the ones we love and who love us, or focusing on ourselves—time will inevitably pass and all things will change.

On his 2021 album Destined 2 Win, new school rapper Lil Tjay dropped a song called “Life Changed.” He states:

Comfortable livin’ was never aight. Down on my ass, I was never the type. I had to get up and better my life. This was one lucky game of rollin’ dice. Life changed, life changed. I’m movin’ on to the better things. Life changed, life changed. I know they wanna see me die, not change.

I know of old school hip hop heads who won’t give the newer generation of rappers a change. Some people who are stuck in the golden age of hip hop tend to forget that all which glittered wasn’t necessarily gold.

I think it’s unwise to bypass Lil Tjay’s message in “Life Changed,” presumably out of rigidity and love for the old school. The young rapper addresses his ability to push through discomfort, which speaks to low frustration tolerance.

He states, “Down on my ass, I was never the type,” suggesting that he isn’t one to go out sad in the face of adversity. Rather, Lil Tjay states, “I had to get up and better my life.”

That’s taking personal ownership of one’s situation in an autoplastic manner, unlike the message reverberated throughout 2Pac’s “Changes”—his interlude being the exception to this critique. Lil Tjay discusses truth by saying, “Life changed,” though he doesn’t let things changing impact his beliefs about life as a whole.

This is how I’ve learned to live my life. While it’s true that a lot has changed since I was born, I don’t bother myself with beliefs about this fact. Rather, I simply alter my beliefs as things inevitably change.

How about you, dear reader? What do you do when life moves at its own pace and brings with it changes from the past, in the present, and for the future? What change will you experience—a change that happens to you or that which you initiate in order to better serve your interests and goals?

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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