Everyone Knows Change Is Difficult ... Are You Sure?

05/24/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Do you think people resist change? ... Most people answer with an emphatic, "Yes."

I don't think people resist change at all.

To which you might respond, "Well if people don't resist change, why do most people not change when given reason to change?"

Good question. Here's my answer: Imagine that you had been doing something a certain way for a long time and you believed that you were doing it the right way. Now imagine that I come along and tell you not to do that way any more. I give you a lot of reasons and I promise a lot of benefits if you stop doing it your way and start doing it my way.

No matter how persuasive I might be, you and most other people probably wouldn't change their behavior. "Okay," you reply, "that just proves that people resist change." Not necessarily. Think about what I just said.

If you think what you are doing is right and I am telling you to do something else, what does it sound like I am asking you to do? ... It would seem to you that I was telling you to do something wrong. Think about that.

We don't resist doing something new or different--in other words, we don't resist change. We resist doing what we think is wrong. When you really get this distinction, you will understand something about human behavior that most psychologists and professionals in the training business still don't understand.

Knowing what to do and being motivated to do it do not change behavior (even though most people think it is supposed to) because behavior is driven by beliefs about ourselves, people, and life. If you want to change behavior, change the beliefs that drive any given behavior--such as procrastination, worrying what people think of you, etc.--and the behavior will change

To make this clear, let's look at a situation that comes up frequently in relationships. Imagine that you have a relationship with someone who yells at people whenever they don't do what she (or he) thinks they ought to be doing. Perhaps you have told her that you don't like her yelling at you and you think it is inappropriate for her to yell at others.

Despite the logic of your argument, her response might well be: "Yelling is the only way to get people to listen and do what you want." That's the belief that engenders the yelling. Given this belief, if you want to get someone to do something and they aren't doing it, you have to yell to get results.

So if yelling is the right thing to do to achieve her goal, then not yelling is the wrong thing to do. The "yeller" doesn't resist change; she resists doing what, for her, is wrong. Change the belief and the behavior will change naturally and effortlessly.

If people were inherently resistant to change, then there would be little if anything we could do about it. But if people don't change because they believe what they are doing is right and what others want is wrong, then we are now in a position to produce change in individuals and in the world by helping people realize that all beliefs are nothing more than our "point of view."

Can you see that all political (and other types of) arguments are nothing more than conflicting beliefs? Consider: Global warming. How to deal with the economy. The failure in the educational system. Health care.

Eliminate the beliefs that keep us stuck and change (individual and social) becomes effortless.
To eliminate one common belief and see how easily it can be done, go to:

Copyright 2010 Morty Lefkoe

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