In this episode of the Disgruntled Life Coach Podcast, let’s change it up – quite literally. We’ll start off with definitions and quotations, then the main segment will set the stage for how to deal with change, and we’ll finish off with a Disgruntled Nugget – a little piece of wisdom you can take with you, or not, I don’t care. Also thx to Audionautix and Partners In Rhyme for the music and sound effects.Support the show
Before we start today, I want to briefly accent how important it is to be patient. It’s not so much one of my pillars, in fact, it’s not at all, but our society is getting more and more polarized, and we need to stop seeing everyone else as an adversary. I lost my temper at a BBQ recently talking politics with some people for the sole reason that I was not willing to accept their opinions as valid. So, yeah, pillar number five, don’t be a dick comes to mind. And I’ve spoken on this in my pods, so I only have myself to blame. But with elections and upheaval happening all around us, it’s a good reminder, from time to time, to be patient with others. That’s all. Just be patient, don’t judge, and stay calm. Also, don’t be uninformed. Oh, and also, don’t be a dick.
So today, we’ll talk about change, what it is, why it can be good, and why you’re so fucking bad at accepting it. It’s complicated, and it’s a defence mechanism to avoid change. But the problem is, today is not yesterday, and tomorrow will be different as well, and I’m not trying to be deep and poetic here. I’m just trying to open the door that change is everywhere, all the time, so avoidance is like trying not to deal with the tax department, they’ll eventually knock on your door anyway. Assholes. Anyway, let’s get started.
According to Oxford, change, as a verb, is “the process of replacing something with something new or different” As a noun, it is “a thing that is used to replace something or the act or result of something becoming different.” If we go one step further, we see social change as “The process of altered status, values, behaviour, and mode of speech and dress that accompany social mobility.” That will be something we’ll talk about later.
Our first quote comes from Rumi who was a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic. He’s quoted as saying “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Despite being written 800 years ago, the relevance to our modern age and human condition is stark.
The next quotation comes from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, an English novelist who wrote the Gothic novel Frankenstein more than 200 years ago and it still stands as a cautionary tale to us all these centuries later. She said, “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” And she knows sudden change having witnessed the drowning of her husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelly, the death of two of her three children, and her own eventual early death from brain caner at age 53.
And, finally, we have Barack Obama - an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017, and much more. Also, he loves dogs, just saying. He was quoted as follows: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” This is similar to the Rumi quotation above, and that’s because it’s really fucking important that we talk about how YOU can drive this bus called change. Or car, or bike. Whatever it is, let’s get peddling.
So why do we resist change, really? Partly, it’s comfort of the familiar. But our minds tell us that nothing stays the same, so why are we averse to change when we know it’s inevitable? The short answer is cognitive bias, and there a bunch of those. These biases are systematic errors in our thinking when interpreting information that may affect our thoughts and decisions. I know it sounds intense, and it’s a deep area of research, so we’re only going to pick part of the scab off a bit. It won’t hurt, I promise. Well, it might, but that’s change for you.
The big problem is that we try to not change, or change only what we have to. But that’s not what we need to do, and it keeps us anxious for the change that we know we avoided, but also know we can’t avoid forever. So why do we nibble instead of bite? Research has shown that we are more likely to complete small, urgent tasks instead of the larger, goal-oriented changes that can make us happier in the long run. This bias, now termed the “Mere urgency effect”, indicates a tendency to deal with things we perceive as time sensitive, over tasks that are more involved, take longer, but have a larger, long-term payoff.
Taken a step further, in a paper by Zhu, Yang and Hsee titled “The Mere Urgency Effect”, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, they write, “the mere urgency effect was more pronounced among people who perceive themselves as busy in general.” So when we see ourselves as busy, we can lead ourselves down this path to complete small tasks rather than tackle change. In fact, the paper concludes by adding, “a restricted time frame is potent enough to divert people’s focus away from task outcomes, consequently increasing their likelihood of pursuing tasks that are transparently inferior in terms of objective value.” So we make ourselves seem busy, so we can accomplish small tasks, just so we can avoid personal change. We are just so creative sometimes.
But it might not be so complicated. It could be people around you, or even your environment that is stopping you from recognizing the need for change. In a revealing and excellent blog post on the Positivity Bog by Henrik Edberg titled "6 Reasons Why People Don’t Change, and What to Do About That", we read that it’s important to distance yourself from people and places that you see as holding you back from the change you need to make. The habits, and the comfort we take in habits as humans, could be the walls you build between you and the changes you’ve identified. And habits are big, thick powerful walls, not like that crap wall that the 45th president attempted to build.
So what do you need to do to embrace change anyway? Best-selling self-help author Karen Salmansohn puts it this way: “What if I told you that 10 years from now, your life would be exactly the same? I doubt you'd be happy. So, why are you so afraid of change?” This is simple yet exact thinking, because we all know 10 years from now, next year, next month, even tomorrow, we’ll face the need to change our credentials, habits, beliefs, attitudes, or more. We KNOW this. It’s not abstract, we’ve been changing all our lives. In fact, we all probably changed something today. Nothing is ever complete, it’s all a work-in-progress. As Voltaire once said: “One day everything will be well, that is our hope. Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion.” Don’t be fooled, especially by your own brain. That’s worse than laughing at your own jokes, yes, even the stupid dad jokes. Yes, I heard you, Sandra.
And, perhaps the key to it all is to see change as a positive, not a negative. Know you are making changes that benefit you and those around you. On the PsyCom website, an article titled “The Psychology Of Dealing With Change: How to Become Resilient”, Dr. Kathleen Smith, a licensed therapist and author of the book, “Everything Isn’t Terrible: Conquer Your Insecurities, Interrupt Your Anxiety, and Finally Calm Down” says this: "The most resilient people see change as an opportunity rather than a monster to fear. Transitions in life allow you to consider where your priorities lie." She goes on to say: "With a clear sense of your goals and values, you will find your mind and body can be much more resilient when it comes to the stressors of change." So don’t fear or resent change, use it as a compass to see where you need to go. And, spoiler alert, it’s not Florida, just saying.
Also, you need to know that you already use change, and you always have, and it’s why you are where you are today. For better or worse, that same path will get you moving again, especially in changing behaviour that is no longer getting you ahead. In an article written for Psychology Today titled "6 Steps For Personal Change", Dr. Jennifer Kromberg looks at what happens when this behaviour gets you stuck in indecision. “Until you identify and understand the purpose of this behaviour, change will be extremely difficult.” So take the steps you need with a purpose, make small changes at a time, and don’t worry if it’s uncomfortable. Like all habits, the new behaviour patterns you change into today will be the comfortable habits of tomorrow, just like breaking ion new jeans, or cowboy boots – YeeHaw. Just start, and let those new and improved behaviours take the wheel.
And, finally, realize that change is all around you, and identify what it is that you really want, or need to change. One thing at a time. Make a list if you must, but it’s likely you already know what’s holding you back. Just take on one thing that you’ve identified, set goals, set milestones, and most importantly, make a timeline. “Eventually” is shit. You have to put a plan in place, and move on it. Even if you make many small goals to reach the change you need to make, you’re still moving the dial, so do it today.
Okay, so that's it for this episode. As always, I'll leave you with a Disgruntled Nugget in a second, but first I want to thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, I’m on all the major platforms, and please visit www.disgruntledlifecoach.ca for all my podcasts – Yes you heard me, w-w-w. Please also follow me on twitter @lifedisgruntled, there's a link on my website. And go ahead and request some stickers – they stick to things, and they’re fun, and free, and they’ll be worth something on Antiques Roadshow in 100 years, probably. Also, if you like what you've heard today, tell your friends. If you think this is ridiculous, still, tell your friends, I mean how hard is that?
Coco Chanel once said, “Success is most often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable.” Which is sad if John Wooden is correct when he said, "Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be.” So neither failure, nor change is likely fatal, but according to Gena Showalter, “Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” So go ahead and fail, but change because if you give up, the fatal failure will make change, or something, I don’t know, whatever…
Again, thanks for listening, and thanks also to Audionautix and Partners in Rhyme for music and sound FX, thanks again to Neatnik for visuals, and thanks for your patience - see you in two weeks, or not, whatever...