"Change is Good, Butů"

"Change is Good, Butů"

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Why people change and why they don't? This is a key question for each of us because it seems that everyone wants to change somebody. A lot of conflicts in our relationships result from just that --our wanting to change the other person.

When your family, friends or coworkers tell you about their problems, they are not always seeking your advice. They are not necessarily asking you what they should do about a situation and rarely do they want you to advise them about changing as a person.

They might just want a shoulder to cry on. Perhaps, they just want you to listen. After getting it off their chest, they usually feel better and figure out what they should do next.

Here are several reasons why we resist a personal change: "Why do I have to change, they are the problem?"; "This is who I am"; "We have always done it this way"; or "You expect me to change at this age?"

And, the answer to such questions is what? You guessed it. "If you'll always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." Nobody likes to hear it. But, if we don't apply it in our lives, how would things get better.

If the person you want to change is your partner, child or someone you supervise, they might feel singled out unfairly. Therefore, if you suggest that they change their ways, they might say something like under their breath, "Get off my back." Some, at any suggestion of change, they might feel being persecuted, "Why is everybody after me?" or "why are you picking on me?"

How much insight do you have into your own behavior? If you think that what you do is "normal," you would be puzzled if someone suggests that you need to change. For example, if you point out to your teenage son that his room is filthy, he might feel that you are OVERREACTING to what is "normal" for teens. If you have a teenager at home, then, "Everybody in my school is doing that," may sound familiar to you.

When we have a problem, we want immediate relief, not more work. Personal change seems complex and a long process. We want to feel better immediately. So our natural reaction might be, "You want me to change? How does that help me to feel better, now? Changing oneself may not to have any bearing on feeling better.

A person, who is simply in the want-to-feel-better mode, may react in this way: "I deserve a break (from my problem) and just for once feel better and you want me to change everything about myself?"

You'd tolerate the idea of changing, if the situation, in which you're in, impairs your ability to function in an area that's important to you. Let me elaborate on each clause of this sentence.

Do you merely tolerate or do you welcome the idea of changing? Are you actively considering a change, NOW? Have you started contemplating on HOW you'd want to change?

As regards the "situation you're in," who defines what the situation is? For example, "Johnny" might not think that his situation is so bad that he should be expected to change behaviors that are second nature to him. Therefore, Johnny is not convinced that he really needs to change, at least not yet.

A similar thing sometimes happens in a marriage. For example, "Johnny Incommunicado" thinks he is communicating as much as he needs to. In an example of yet another marriage, "Jane Intemperate" thinks she is pretty reasonable until her "dear hubby" does something really outrageous. The partners in such marriages resent any suggestions or reminders for changing their own ways.

So, when they're given an ultimatum, "Change or else!" they rush to their friends, ministers or counselors without a sincere commitment to change. Naturally, it doesn't work out for them. How can your heart be in something that you must do under threat? You are likely to think that the change is not for your benefit, it's to benefit someone else. Why people change and why they don't? This is a key question for each of us because it seems that everyone wants to change somebody. A lot of conflicts in our relationships result from just that --our wanting to change the other person.

When your family, friends or coworkers tell you about their problems, they are not always seeking your advice. They are not necessarily asking you what they should do about a situation and rarely do they want you to advise them about changing as a person.

They might just want a shoulder to cry on. Perhaps, they just want you to listen. After getting it off their chest, they usually feel better and figure out what they should do next.

Here are several reasons why we resist a personal change: "Why do I have to change, they are the problem?"; "This is who I am"; "We have always done it this way"; or "You expect me to change at this age?"

And, the answer to such questions is what? You guessed it. "If you'll always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." Nobody likes to hear it. But, if we don't apply it in our lives, how would things get better.

If the person you want to change is your partner, child or someone you supervise, they might feel singled out unfairly. Therefore, if you suggest that they change their ways, they might say something like under their breath, "Get off my back." Some, at any suggestion of change, they might feel being persecuted, "Why is everybody after me?" or "why are you picking on me?"

How much insight do you have into your own behavior? If you think that what you do is "normal," you would be puzzled if someone suggests that you need to change. For example, if you point out to your teenage son that his room is filthy, he might feel that you are OVERREACTING to what is "normal" for teens. If you have a teenager at home, then, "Everybody in my school is doing that," may sound familiar to you.

When we have a problem, we want immediate relief, not more work. Personal change seems complex and a long process. We want to feel better immediately. So our natural reaction might be, "You want me to change? How does that help me to feel better, now? Changing oneself may not to have any bearing on feeling better.

A person, who is simply in the want-to-feel-better mode, may react in this way: "I deserve a break (from my problem) and just for once feel better and you want me to change everything about myself?"

You'd tolerate the idea of changing, if the situation, in which you're in, impairs your ability to function in an area that's important to you. Let me elaborate on each clause of this sentence.

Do you merely tolerate or do you welcome the idea of changing? Are you actively considering a change, NOW? Have you started contemplating on HOW you'd want to change?

As regards the "situation you're in," who defines what the situation is? For example, "Johnny" might not think that his situation is so bad that he should be expected to change behaviors that are second nature to him. Therefore, Johnny is not convinced that he really needs to change, at least not yet.

A similar thing sometimes happens in a marriage. For example, "Johnny Incommunicado" thinks he is communicating as much as he needs to. In an example of yet another marriage, "Jane Intemperate" thinks she is pretty reasonable until her "dear hubby" does something really outrageous. The partners in such marriages resent any suggestions or reminders for changing their own ways.

So, when they're given an ultimatum, "Change or else!" they rush to their friends, ministers or counselors without a sincere commitment to change. Naturally, it doesn't work out for them. How can your heart be in something that you must do under threat? You are likely to think that the change is not for your benefit, it's to benefit someone else.

Narcissism, that old mischief-maker, can also get in the way of change. We love our old ways, our drawbacks and weaknesses. We get so attached to them that in spite of the feedback from others; we keep "believing" it won't ever become a major problem.

Some don't want to give up their addictions and vices even though those might cause bigger problems in future. Why not? Because, they offer them immediate gratification. Some don't want to give up the bird in hand for the two in the bush?

Here are a few tips that might help you to stay on target: Pay attention to what is happening now; be your own monitor and always watch what you say or do and think about why you keep sliding back into the same old pattern and ask yourself, "How might I stop this pattern?



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