Change Is Constant, Resistance Is Futile
Change is not optional.
Posted May 11, 2016
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
— C. S. Lewis
Change is not optional. Change is really the only constant.
In researching this article, I perused a number of articles and books about change, many of which were from organizational consultants and change management experts. And almost all talked about the difficulty of change, resistance to change and upset around change.
It’s true that at times, we’ll hang on to the known and familiar by our bloody fingernails rather than enter change gracefully or enthusiastically. But as Peter Bregman wrote in a Harvard Business Review blog:
“People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.”
We actually love change when we choose it for ourselves. Landing that new job, beginning a new relationship, moving into a new home, getting a spiffy new haircut or even a new tattoo! We may feel some nervousness about a self-initiated change, but typically we feel excited and eager for it.
So we’ve got two ends of the spectrum: Change that is thrust upon us and change that we eagerly initiate. But there’s another type of change: Change that is overdue but we’re “not ready for it.”
We’re wired to change and grow. In nature, whatever stops changing and growing begins to dissolve or die. So it is with us. Fortunately, we’re built with an early warning system that tells us when it’s time to change.
Maybe our career starts feeling too confining or our relationship feels less fulfilling. We find ourselves wondering what it would be like to have more strength or energy physically. We feel antsy about how we spend our time or some longing for a deeper spiritual connection.
When this happens, we’ve got options.
1. Ignore the nudge.
Many of us start here. We shake the feeling off and keep on keeping on. The problem with this strategy is that the nudge typically escalates. It becomes stomach ulcers or insomnia. It becomes a knockdown, drag out fight with your boss or your spouse, or a sense of painful loneliness and despair. If left unattended, our nudge to grow and change becomes a cosmic two by four that knocks us on our keister! And now it’s become a change that is thrust upon us.
As Jack Welch advised, “Change before you have to.” Rather than waiting for the Mack truck to hit us, we can respond to the “tickle of the feather” to initiate change.
2. Freak out and react.
When we feel that nudge that something needs changing, we can opt for survival mode, moving into fight or flight. “Get them before they get you.” “Leave before the hammer hits.” The problem with this approach is that we miss the real message of that nudge. It may be asking that we change the direction of a relationship, not that we blow it apart. It may be telling us that we need to pick a different major, not that we leave college altogether and flee the country.
Often the nudge to change is asking us to expand our own perception, understanding or attitude, not necessarily that we drastically change our circumstances. As Wayne Dyer put it: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
3. Embrace the feeling, discern its message, and respond appropriately.
This takes some faith in and respect for our feelings. We need to appreciate that our feelings are not just random sensations but part of that early warning system that’s meant to help us grow and change. The first step is to acknowledge the feeling. Next, spend some quiet time asking what its message might be. And finally, determine responses that feel most aligned with who you are and what you value.
The response you choose to the nudge of change may not be totally comfortable. It may (and probably will) call upon you to be more than who you’ve been, to stretch in some form. But it should feel “right” to you.
And what about those changes that are thrust upon us? The ones over which we have little or no control?
The truth is that we always have choice about our response to change, even change that is thrown at us and appears to be negative or destructive. In my NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) trainings, students learn how to shift their typical default reactions, perceptions and beliefs, and install responses that are more positive and empowering. To do so, we use specific techniques such as reframing or the Mental Emotional Release® process (MER®).
Without this training, you can still begin to improve your response to the changes in your life by viewing them differently. For example, in The Power of Now Eckhart Tolle recommends that we “Accept—then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy.” And Alan Watts says, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
Change is not optional. I encourage you to create a relationship with change that enhances your life.
To your TOTAL empowerment!
Byline: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership. Author of several books, Dr. Matt has trained thousands of students to be totally empowered using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna, and Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) therapy. Connect with Dr. Matt on Facebook or visit his blog at www.DrMatt.com.