When you wake up and take a look at certain things in your life and see that they need changing it should be simple, right? You just change what needs changing so you can move forward. But people are almost pathologically resistant to change and today I want to explore why that is the case.
You might call it change or you might like to think of it as progress. Others like to think of it as adaptation or evolution. Some people embrace change but most of us fear it and some of us actively resist it. Those who embrace it are people who are highly adaptable, they thrive with new challenges, they love anything that is different. I was always one of the ones who was very resistant to change and that had to do with my fear of the unknown. I did not like anything that I did not know which was tied to my general distrust of the world. So, for me, change was always difficult, a downright struggle and anxiety provoking challenge.
The problem for most of us, though, is that change, at least in our external worlds is inevitable. In the external world, if you don’t change, you stagnate and you will die, your business will die. The world does not stand still. It is in our internal worlds that we can resist change to the nth degree and do our utmost to try to stop it from occurring. So, in our internal world, if we don’t change, we also stagnate and, in essence, our souls die.
Everyone knows just how difficult it is to break an old habit. Think trying to quit smoking. Most people who are addicted to cigarettes have to quit at least 10 times before they are finally successful. This is also part of the reasons that diets don’t work. You have to change the underlying behavior if you want to exact real and lasting change.
Some people are predisposed to be able to embrace change and I like to call those people the innovators. They are usually younger and sometimes better educated. They have fewer habitual responses to stimuli which means they are more willing to take a risk and take a chance. This might be because they perceive that they have less to lose.
Sometimes people resist change because they fear losing control. But you would think that choosing to make a change would help them feel more in control. Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?
Making change will lead to anxiety on some level or another and that is probably the biggest reason why people resist it. So people develop coping mechanisms which help them avoid anxiety and that means avoiding change at all cost. Change of any kind be it moving from one location to another, ending a relationship or learning a new skill is best left for the more adventurous, they think.
Other people think that they are very effective just the way they are. They do not see any reason to change anything. These people tend to not believe in destiny or that their fate is predetermined. They believe that they are in complete control of their lives so why change anything? They are coping just fine, thank you very much!
Some people tolerate ambiguity very well. These are the people who will go to any length not to upset the apple cart. They tend to follow the rules to a fault and do not question authority. They like stable routines and they like to know all the rules. Period. End of story. These people do not want to be challenged by things they do not understand. They like their daily rituals and anything that threatens to dislodge them will be resisted full tempo.
Others can not tolerate any threats or tension so they resist change with great force. This is because change signals danger to them which leads to anxiety.
Still others can not look ahead to the long-term consequences of maintaining their poor behavior. they are able to focus only on the immediate issues.
Most people will resist change even in the face of great personal inconvenience or even physical danger. That is because the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. So, a person will bang their head against a wall a hundred times even if it gives them a big headache because they know what to expect. They know what the results will be. There is comfort in that kind of knowledge, even if it is bad for you. If you have had a previously bad experience with change, that will also make you more resistant to trying it again in the future. Many people will resist change if for no other reason than that it is too frightening. So, for example, if you bang your head into a wall and you always get a headache, you might continue to do that because you know what the end result will be. It is predictable. It is comfortable and that provides reassurance. Stopping that behavior means you will need to find something to replace it with and that can signal danger even to a motivated person.
So, how do you get over this? Try implementing small changes by controlling what you can. Evaluate the results and make a real assessment about whether or not it was worth it to you. Decrease your expectations of what you want to happen so you won’t be disappointed.