How to tell if someone is ready to change

There is an Aesop’s fable that is so resonant and relevant to recovery that I am compelled to share it and describe its significance. Now, people are always wondering how they know their loved one is ready change. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are no hard and fast indications that signify readiness. However, The Lark and the Farmer provides insight that is quite useful.

The fable (in my words): There was a family of larks nesting in a Farmer’s corn field. The field had grown unruly and one day the Farmer realized that he need to harvest the corn and clean up the field. “It’s time to reap the field, I’d better get the word out to my friends so that they can help.”

One of the young larks overheard the farmer and became worried that they would soon have to move their nest. The young lark’s mother said, “Don’t worry, a man who looks to his friends for help will take his time about a thing. We don’t have to hurry to move.”

After another weeks or so, corn kernels began to over-ripen and fall to the ground. Upon seeing this, the Farmer realized that he could no longer await his friends for help with the harvest. “I can no longer wait, I will begin to harvest the corn and hire a crew of men to help me, right now.”

When she heard the Farmer, the Mother Lark said to her brood, “Come my children, we must leave at once, for the Farmer has stopped talking of his friend and has now taken matters into his own hand.”

When someone is simply toying with the idea of recovering from his or her Addiction, he or she will probably say things similar to what the Farmer did. The not-ready addict may say, “Once I get insurance, I’ll do to rehab,” or “if my husband can stay with me for a week, I’ll detox,” or, “If someone can help me find a rehab center, I’ll try to go.” However, in my experience, when someone is looking for external means to accomplish his or her goals, it shows that he or she can remain passive and not actively pursuing that which he or she claims to seek. Like the Farmer, as they await external “help,” people who wait on others for things, especially a not-ready addict, can remain in the status quo and not have to move forward.

However, when someone acts on his or her own behalf and initiates behaviors towards recovery, without relying on anyone else, then those self-initiated behaviors are pretty good evidence that the person is “ready” for recovery. Therefore, if you’re wondering if someone is “ready” to change, remember the Lark and the Farmer and measure that fable against the person’s actions.



  1. Thank you i pray for my farmer to have reached the point of hiring help. As he detoxes in jail and is released Christmas Eve i hope he is ready to pick that corn! I was ready to help him pick it 2 years ago, in fact started to, but he wasnt up to it, i kept picking it for him. Now i realise he must do it himself, lets hope and pray his harvest is plentiful.


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