Posted by: ritagone | February 13, 2013

Unable to Change?

resisting change


Once people have learned to solve a problem, past research has shown, they often struggle to generate solutions using a different approach. As economist John Maynard Keynes put it, ‘The difficulty lies not in grasping the new ideas, but rather in escaping from the old ones.’

How true, how true, John Maynard Keynes.  You took the words – and the idea – right out of my mouth.

You see, I’ve been thinking along those same lines lately: how difficult it is for any of us to change ideas once one idea has gotten a firm hold in our minds.  We are such creatures of habit, so used to thinking the same way over and over again, year in and year out, that when presented with the opportunity to see things differently, we shy away, often vehemently.  “Don’t bother me with facts; my mind’s made up,” is a theme for most of us, whether we’re willing to admit it or not.

We call ideas that we can’t relinquish “sacred cows,” sacred because we hold them to be holy, because of the longevity with which we’ve embraced them.  Sometimes it takes dynamite to blast us out of our beliefs and ideas even when everything around us tells us that it’s time to let them go.  Sometimes, in fact, we never can or do let them go and make the necessary changes.

How about you?

Are there any ideas or beliefs that you cling to, in spite of being told that perhaps you need to change?  Any ways of doing things that need re-modeling, but you’re so entrenched in doing them in the old-fashioned way that you can’t do them any differently to save your life?

Come on, we’re all like this.  So you’re in good company if you said yes.  We all resist change, we all like the status quo for the most part, and we each and every one dig our heels in and insist that we’ve been doing it or thinking it or believing it this way for so long that it couldn’t possibly be improved upon.  We like the comfort of the old ways more than the risk of the new.

Or maybe it’s because if we change, our world will come tumbling down?  Our security will become insecure?  We won’t be the same person we are now, we will have a whole bunch of new things to deal with that will overwhelm us and confuse and intimidate us.

And we just don’t want that to happen.  It’s just too much to deal with.

So we avoid it by refusing to escape from the old ideas that then continue to hold us in their sway.

So how to break out and break away?

I guess Nike has a bit of the truth to the action needed: Just do it!  That’s a step in the right direction.  Just try in one specific situation to think outside the box, to process differently, and see how it feels, how you wear it.  Maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

Escaping from the old ways of doing things, of thinking about things, is very similar in some ways to escaping from addiction, or being released from prison (so I’m told).  Freeing.  Exhilarating.  In the abstract who wouldn’t want to experience that kind of feeling?

So I’m going to try to make a liar out of John Maynard Keynes this year whenever and wherever I can, and whenever it’s the right thing to do, the correct road to take.

Care to join me?




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