Overcoming Resistance to Change

9 10 2006

by Stuart Gardiner

It has been said that people will do more to avoid pain than to experience pleasure. I would like the reader to consider a slight adjustment to the above phrase and follow the word ‘avoid’ with the word ‘anticipated’. We never really know if something is going to be hard or painful until we actually do it. The only thing that actually stops us doing something is our minds idea about something built from ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ or simply fear. We fear or anticipate the pain of attempting something new simply because to do so means leaving our comfort zone. Our habitual condition makes us feel safe and because the outcome of any new action can’t be predicted we tend to fear the worse rather than expect the best.

This is not just something that happens on a personal level either. Anything you attempt that might be new or just ‘out of character’ can quite easily be undone by other people - often the people closest to you. Machiavelli captured it best in his famous quote “There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all who profit by the new order. This lukewarmness arises partly from fear of their adversaries, who have law in their favor, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not believe in anything new until they have had an actual experience of it.” Can you see why your dreams should remain private? It is fairly obvious that your dreams might well impinge on the comfort zones of others and if they do you can certainly expect some resistance!

This is not something to get concerned about though. You have a responsibility to your self to do the best for yourself. You can only make the world a better place by changing what you do to become a better person. If the path to achieving your dreams makes you a better person then it has to be the right way to go. We all have to be willing to leave our comfort zones to make the world a better place and if that means we are doing it to fulfill another persons dreams whilst pursuing our own, then so be it. In fact, the quickest way to make your dreams a reality is to help other people achieve their dreams.

If you are skeptical about this innate resistance to change we all seem to have, think of the real pain and heartache that comes from repeating the same mistakes again and again. We are all guilty of this on some level whether it be our health, our relationships or our financial situation. Why do we choose not to suffer a little discomfort now for the sake of a whole lot of pain later? Equally, why do we choose short term pleasure over our long term well being? Is it because we have allowed the mind to control our lives rather than us controlling it? Of course it is! Our anticipation of any event that we have never actually experienced is more often than not based on false evidence from the past. This makes us choose the easy option over the better option regardless of the long term consequences.

One of the most effective weapons in fighting our resistance to change is to change our attitude to events as they arise. Look for the hidden benefits in every event, even if on the surface it appears things are going wrong. Just flip the switch and start to expect the best from any action you take. When you do this on a consistent basis you will find it easier to leave the comfort zone and choose the best option; the option that moves you closer to your dreams.

stuart is the co-owner of site http://www.7stepsup.com and is a long term student of practical philosophy. He considers the development of a positive mental attitude a prime key to success.

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