Why We Are Resistant To Change

In spite of the fact that just about the only thing we can be certain of in life is that things will change, human beings are highly resistant to change; even when that change may benefit them. Is this simply human nature, or is it a learned behavior? The answer is this, anything you say, think or do is considered a behavior and behaviors that can be learned, can be unlearned and relearned, regardless of what they are. Here, we will explore the more practical aspects of the reasons for resistance to change and, perhaps, explore some ideas about how to overcome that resistance.

The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee recently published findings from a study on why people are resistant to change which outlines the major reasons for their resistance. These include the following…

People will resist change:

  • When the reason for the change is unclear.
  • When the proposed users have not been consulted about the change, and it is offered to them as an accomplished fact.
  • When the change threatens to modify established patterns of … relationships between people.
  • When communication about the change has not been sufficient.
  • When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved.
  • When the change threatens jobs, [relationships], power or status in an organization.

While the study was performed with the workplace in mind, it can also be illustrative for our personal lives and relationships.

Whether it is the ambiguity of the explanation for a change, or the complete lack of justification, i.e., when the change is seen as “change for the sake of change,” many people will resist it, perhaps justifiably so. After all, one may ask, why go through all the work of changing if the benefits of doing so are not clear?

Whatever your reasons for resistance to change may be, identifying them is the first step to overcoming them. Next, you must be able to appreciate the value of the change you envision. If it doesn’t seem worth the effort, you will not put forth that effort. Then, you must commit yourself to making that effort for, as the saying goes, “Nothing worth doing is easy.”

If you find yourself in the seemingly endless cycle of resistance, especially if you are resistant to change in spite of the benefit it may bring you, you may need the help of a professional to overcome that resistance. There is nothing wrong with that.

Remember this, “That which you resist will forever exist.”

If you are trying to overcome your own resistance to change in your life or relationships, and believe you would benefit from therapeutic help in doing so, get in touch with us today.


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