Everyone realises that change is inevitable to living, but no-one likes change being foisted on us. Ironically however, we generally resist reforms we want to make ourselves. Oh absolutely, we find strategies to sabotage, resist and undermine change, even where we insist we waint it and view it as good!
In this article, I will try to answer the following queries:
Question 1 - How do we resist change?
We all have our own unique ways of resisting change. Here are a few widespread ways of resisting. You might recognise them as strategies that you use when faced with change.
More detail required - I see that change might be beneficial. However, I must have more information first, just to be sure. The desire for additional detail is a continual process, and a superb way to put things off.
It's not as grim - Things aren't as bad as I first thought, so perhaps I don't need to make a change. This is more commonly known as the 'flight to health', and the best example is with married couples who are in difficulty and initially go to relationship counselling. Then, when they get to counselling, they agree their relationship aint as poor as first thought!
Now isn't the right time - I can't start this fitness programme right now - I have a party to attend next weekend. Of course, there will always be an explanation why this isn't the appropriate time. I am totally motivated, but not right now!
The intellectual type - The intellectual has loads of time to discuss approach behind proposed change, but fails to get round to the practicalities of making a shift. In other words, they never move from talk to acting.
It's them! - I'm ready to make a change, and if it wasn't for that lot we could move forward. It's their problem, not my own.
Question 2 - Why do we resist change?
Change threatens our ideas of control and security, which leaves us vulnerable. Control loss, vulnerability, and insecurity are emotional responses. But in preference to admitting our emotions, we resist the change in our own way, using logical argument to justify ourselves both to ourselves and others.
All of us resist change using one approach or another. The risk is that, by utilising our rational (left-side) brain to justify our emotional resistance leaves our resistance hidden, from ourselves|in our subconscious}. So the step of learning to identify our own resistance, when it occurs, can be rather helpful - particularly when the change in question is something we say we want. When we have located our own personal resistance, what steps can we take?
Question 3 - What can we do about our personal resistance?
Here are six strategies for working on our personal resistance, based on my experience of change, with clients and in my personal life.
Set yourself a vision - Call it mission, vision, goals, or whatever. Decide where you want to head in your career and personal life. Once you identify this direction, formulate some goals - that way, you have a timescale for action, and not just a vague intention to do something 'at some point'. Always remember that, if you have no idea of direction, all change is bad!
Get clear about your values - Your values are things that are important for you, your moral code\guide. Get clear on what they are. Examples of values include achievement, honesty, integrity, decisiveness, and friendship. Getting clear on your values will help you to plot a course for change, and overcome your resistance when you need to.
The ought / should dilemma - Do you personally want change, or is it a change you 'should' or 'ought to' do? If it's ought or should, examine why you see it this way. Are you thinking about change so as to gain approval from others? If you don't want to change for your own reasons, forget it.
Commit publicly - When you decide to publicise your intention to change, two things occur. First, events can start moving in a way that facilitates making the change. It might be coincidence, or it might be an unseen force in the ether. But whatever it is, great numbers of people who embark on changes successfully say that 'declaring your intention to change' leads to momentum being gained. Second, the people you've told will give you a hard time if you don't follow up on your declared aims, causing you embarrassment. Risk of embarrassment is a major motivator to action!
Think through your beliefs - We all collect beliefs about ourselves, e.g. 'I'm useless in presentations', or 'I am risk averse'. These beliefs develop in our brains, often from childhood, or from events where things went wrong in some way. It's worth critically re-examining beliefs that hold you back. Beliefs are not true or false. They are just your personal beliefs, and you can change them. If you think your beliefs are true, just consider the anorexic who thinks they are fat. Anorexics really do believe this.
Cut yourself some slack! - Perhaps most importantly, don't go too self-critical on this. It's entirely natural to resist change - we need a degree of stability in the world after all. We're all human, we generally attempt to do our best. While we can all improve, it doesn't make us bad people. So go easy on yourself.
In closing this article, I'll give you one final thought. If you want to take off to a brilliant future, all you need to do is to stop braking! Reduce your own resistance, and you can be whatever you want.