Two Reasons Why Change is Difficult


1) The perception of change activates a part of the brain that is not unlike the experience of pain.  Change of any sort is fundamentally a pain. Imagine the pain involved in changing an ingrained habit, a deeply held belief or a core value.

2) Changes in attributes and behavior — especially when done gradually — do not alter one’s fundamental identity. Over the course of many years the Ship of Theseus had all its planks and masts changed… yet it remained the same ship.  The molecules that comprise our bodies do a similar thing… and if we’ve learned anything from monkeys, we know that organizations rarely change even when the people in it do. Culture and tradition are powerful forces…  and even when we marshall the resources to shift our sense of Identity, there is still something beyond our complete control called Reputation.

Change may be the Universe’s only constant… and up against that cold, random Universe we have Life being stubbornly anti-entropic.

A person who can effectively harness the power of Change is a mediator between Life and the Universe, between Entities and Events.

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About danspira

My blog is at: http://danspira.com. My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on February 14, 2011, in Business, Learning, Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. from a more down to earth perspective…

    the human body likes “homeostasis” = equilibirum = no change = predicitiblity = no stress!

    once in a while stress is good. constant stress is bad!

  2. Nicely put!

    Some of the business gurus (’cause I knows you loves the bidness, Nareg) on the subject of change and learning in organizations (e.g. John Kotter, Peter Senge) describe the first step of enabling change as the requirement for urgency, or dissatisfaction with the status quo due to some aspiration (pleasure) or avoidance (pain). This dissatisfaction would have to be enough to overcome the tendency to homeostasis.

    What do you think of this: Some individuals crave Change more than others… to what degree do you think it is because their threshold of homeostasis is lower? …and to what extent is it something else, such as those that simply want Novelty, which is not exactly the same thing as true Change?

  3. I am quite fascinated by the subject of change as well.

    As a therapist we are fundamentally working with change and how to help or assist individuals, couples, or families to create change.

    Of course, for reasons that you suggest that change even good change brings stress and therefore pain. I figure there are many reasons that attribute to a given situation in need of change and many times habits or patterns of behavior were created by even unrecognized or unexpressed beliefs. Overtime these behaviors can take on a life of their own with only the shadow of the original belief imprinted on it.

    Change is hard to do individually but even more complex in a couple, family, or organizational system. Partially due to the fact that different individuals or part of a system may have a different investment and/or capacity for change.

  4. I forgot to make sure to follow your blog. It looks like you have been at this for a long time. I’ll have to review some of your archive.

  5. Thanks for the comments, Nicole.

    Overcoming behavioral patterns that have “taken on a life of their own” is indeed a huge challenge… especially in a group setting. I really like your description of beliefs (unrecognized, unexpressed, imprinted) in how they can relate to behavior.

    In his story of how he and others developed the first atomic bomb, Richard Feynman recounts that although the reason that he started working on the Bomb had gone away (the threat posed by Germany in WWII was eliminated), nevertheless he and others continued working on the project. “I simply didn’t think,” he said. Yes, sometime people engage in behavior that is “atomic bomb” grade (or certainly, toxic) in its destructive power, long after its adaptive context has changed.

    Welcome to this blog… hope to see more of your comments in the future!

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