Harvard Business and Forbes both published fairly recent articles about why we resist change. The Forbes article starts off with one executive confused by why she’s disliked after she cut projects and laid off personnel in order to reduce expenses. This to me is the most interesting part of the article.
We absolutely LOVE to point out the change others need to make. When we are in control and see the change ‘they’ need to make; we love change and can’t understand why anyone would resist such brilliant insight. We doll out advice, make judgments and puff up our own EGO in our “rightness”.
When we have authority or power do we act with empathy and compassion? Or do we become ‘oblivious’ like this executive who created disruptive change then was naive enough to ask “why are they acting this way?”
So often the people who lack compassion when they are in power are the same people who play the victim when they are stripped of their power. They ask the same why ME question “Why are they doing this TO ME instead of WHY are they acting this way (which is creating a problem for ME)”. In both statements it reveals their self centered world view. Is this the kind of boss, mate, friend you would like to have? What would you want from your partner? Think about the ideal partner, maybe even write down their traits. Good. Now go live whatever you just wrote.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi.
These “why” questions point to a lack of insight. When we are trained to focus on ‘them’ and we have not learned how to focus on “our own internal reactions” then we become confused like this executive. To gain clarity we may want to change the question to “if I was in their position what would I need?”. This opens the door to understand. To serve. To think of others. To know ourselves.
Here are some examples where we can shift from unconsciousness to awareness. In reading these stories, what is more interesting is if you can relate any of this to your own life.
We avoid. Maybe We do not return phone calls and have all sorts of stories and excuses about it. However, when someone does not return our phone call we are consumed with fear. What does this mean? Have they rejected us? We must train ourself to see the connection. When I don’t return phone calls is it possible I generate anxiety for others that rely upon me? Do I like others doing this to me when I rely upon them? Can I change others? Am I willing to change me? Do I want to be a producer of this kind of anxiety or am I willing to change?
We lack vulnerability or the courage to fully commit. Are we non-committal or not fully engaged? Do we say things like “I don’t know” or when pinned for an answer “Listen, I just really don’t care”. Have we been strung along to the point of resentment? Do we make judgments like this is dysfunctional, chaotic and its only purpose is to frustrate progress. Are we willing to see how our unwillingness to fully commit and fully engage is causing this exact resentment in those we deal with? Can we see how we stifle our own personal growth and progress? You have the courage to be vulnerable. People who are afraid to be vulnerable really are afraid of being hurt. If you have faith in your internal strength then you would not be afraid to reveal your inner self.
Maybe we use others vulnerabilities against them so we are afraid they will do this to us. Here is a secret tip. They already know what your vulnerabilities are. You’ve already betrayed yourself and revealed them by your actions of withholding. So all that need to control, withhold, and not fully commit creates a prison that you live in alone and still gives your enemies power. It is paramount to being afraid of your own shadow. And a great analogy since it’s our shadow self that we reference here. The self that we think we hide from the world or that we are unaware of how we show up in the world. We no longer have to be afraid of our own shadow. We can own it. Be mindful of it. Notice when it reappears. And continually work to bring it into balance in our daily lives.
Make demands we are not willing to reciprocate. We may feel singled out for our defects and want others to cut us slack. However, when we have the power to show compassion for a friend that is not feeling well, or to empathize with a child that is disappointed we act annoyed and irritated and want them to just ‘get over it’. We thwart others need for understanding but then expect or more likely demand a free pass on our behavior.
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent” – Martin Luther King.
So the next time you want to see change in someone else try this; train your mind to ask “what change is needed in me at this present moment?” If the answer is not clear allow yourself to be vulnerable and live in the willingness “I am open to see how I show up for others. I am going to mindfully be aware and look for reactions so that I can grow”.
In simple terms “Pull your head out of your aka the clouds and look around you from a place of wanting to understand instead of demanding to be understood”.
By the way the articles are below and they state the obvious. We resist change. We fear it. We don’t like to lose control. We don’t want to look bad. We don’t want to look wrong. We are afraid the change will be unfair. It’s all based on fear. The solution is to look within, be mindful of our own internal reactions. Look for patterns. Recognize our part in those patterns. Change ourselves.