Why do we resist change?Jun 26, 2023
The need for change comes either from the external environment or from an inside pressure. What triggers me into a change process is that the pain of staying the same outgrows the pain of transformation.
Even when I feel the pain of staying the same, I resist change - Why is that?
Pain and the current state are familiar, the end state is not. Resistance is a fear of the unknown. The unknown is uncomfortable, and I try to avoid any uncomfortable feelings, so I protect myself by resisting change. Behind the uncomfortable feelings, I find my fears. My fears are there to protect me and sometimes I am even unaware that I am experiencing a fear. I can however see it because I keep finding myself in the same situation or in the same pattern. Again and again, and nothing changes.
For example; At work, I want to feel that I am developing, growing, and feel challenged. I also want a good atmosphere and time to know my colleagues, but work pressure is high and there is no room for creativity, learning, or reflection. My days are stressful, there are back-to-back meetings every day, and I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed. This has been going on for years, and I feel dissatisfied. I have lost motivation, but nothing changes. I just complain about the situation to my family, friends, and colleagues.
"When we are no longer able to change the situation, we are challenged to change ourselves" - Victor Franklin
Whenever you are stuck in a repeating pattern, approach yourself with curiosity, and ask yourself a few questions;
- What is the benefit for me to stay in this situation?
- What is my underlying need?
- Do I have fears that I am avoiding?
Typical fears that you might experience holding you back from change are;
- Loosing control. You feel that you have lost control or power over a situation.
- Uncertainty. Even if the current situation is painful, you don´t know what the future will look like and it might be equally painful or worse, the uncertainty keeps you where you are.
- Not your decision, someone else tries to impose change and you were not part of making the decision, the seeds of change will need time to grow inside of you and you need time.
- You don´t know the new and it is different, this in itself is confusing and uncomfortable, now you need to start thinking of what to do instead of going on autopilot.
- There are many more, these are just a few examples, make sure to take the time to find your own fears.
Harvard Business Review recently posted an article on the same topic, short summary; "So why is business transformation so difficult to achieve? One reason is the invisible fears and insecurities that keep us locked into behaviors even when we know rationally that they don’t serve us well. Leaders can change processes, policies, seating arrangements, and other external factors, but until they change people’s internal feelings, assumptions, blind spots, and fears, they’ll struggle to make change stick. This kind of transformation should start with the leaders themselves, since its their personalities that often shape corporate culture." Read the whole article here.
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