Man rebels under monotony, yet sadly enough, man cannot handle anything other than monotony! A bold statement that is. Let us ask ourselves, how do we often do we complain about status quo? All the time. How often do we challenge status quo? Well, some of the time. And how well do we adapt when status quo actually shifts? Well, let us not ask! Through this article, let us conduct an insightful enquiry into the actual relationship we have with change. The findings would be valuable for us, though it could make us face some harsh truths about our internal orientation.
Here are some very simple questions to give you a context for reflecting upon the topic:
• How dramatic has been any change in your appearance that you have undergone?
• How will you respond if the walls of your room were suddenly painted in a new colour?
• How do you respond to a sudden change in the seating arrangement at work?
• How do you respond when your spouse wants to reorient the home furniture?
• How long does it take for you to adapt to a new boss or colleague?
• How often have you heard yourself saying – “Better a known Devil”
Whether you like it or you hate it, truth be told: We are averse to change. We resist change in every way we can. We are not fashioned to welcome change. Yet, change is inevitable in life. Nothing lasts. Nothing remains the same. That does indicate therefore, that every single moment in our lives, we are dealing with an inconvenience called ‘change’ as we are ill-prepared to accept it as a way of life. It is really amazing, the reasons we have and give ourselves. While there are always few cases of exception such as unfair or unhappy, rest of the changes around us are not threatening or extreme at all. Just that they spell some amount of risk.
According to George Loewenstein, Professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, “we humans are pathologically risk averse. A lot of mechanisms that drive us are not suited to modern life.” (Courtesy: The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, Kevin Dutton). This excerpt from Professor Loewenstein is plain and insightful about why we face such inconvenience in our day to day activities – because every day we have to deal with some change.
A very common situation emerging from this fear of inconvenience is that people allow themselves to be trapped inside the consequences of a decision which is not yielding positive outcome. They remain for years without breaking free from it. It is a choice between two equally challenging situations. One is where a suffering ensues from a wrong decision, the other is the suffering ensuing from the fear, inability or denial to embrace change – because change is discomforting . This brings us to realize that a lot of us are actually trapped in our circumstances as we resent and resist ‘change’. And by doing that we also lose the freedom and empowerment it could bring.
It is one thing to complain about a situation, and a completely different thing to stand up to what it takes to change it. Also, one needs to be infinitely courageous in the face of pain and distress the change may bring. We can apply this in every aspect where things are not working very well for us. If it is a relationship, then it requires us to change how we are associating with the other person, or maybe our own feelings about the other. If it is about our career not working well, then perhaps we need to change the way we perform our tasks and change our approach altogether, and so on.
To conclude in the words of Gandhi ji, “Be the change that you wish to see” , one may understand and interpret thus: that desiring to see change must be emboldened by the willingness to take up a great responsibility to be beyond we have been so far. Else, it is but a distant dormant dream.