Struggle for Strength: Why People Resist Change

Beliefs construct the essence of personal identity. When experience and outsiders challenge entrenched beliefs, it as if they are challenging an individual's/group's core identity. Critiquing another’s beliefs literally arouses an existential threat in the mind of the other.

Reactions-to-change-1024x614Source: Top 12 Reasons People Resist Change - This Graph correlates to ‘The Hero’s Journey’ constructed by Joseph Campbell.

This existential threat kicks survival instincts into gear, creating resistance to a new ‘truth.’ Such resistance expends energy and depletes strength. At times people can successfully deny the facts and live in a fantasy world; yet, this diminishes their strength and forces them to live in a state of unrealized potential.

As Nobel Prize Winner in Economic Sciences, Daniel Kahneman, explains in Thinking: Fast and Slow, humans are loss averse. This means people prefer to forgo potential benefits in order to avoid present losses. This decision feels rational but stretches to irrational lengths. We find excuses, construct elaborate stories, surround ourselves in echo chambers, and insulate ourselves from new information.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

 Eventually we will tire and drown in our futile attempts to paddle against the current. By thoughtfully accepting where the river carries us to, we can refocus our strength to travel with the flow and safely land upon unknown shores.

In St. Louis we must acknowledge the realities of where our past has carried us. If we are to survive the rapids of change, we must accept our difficult situation and use what strength we have left to make thoughtful adjustments in the way we interact with one another in the city and county. We all float on the same disintegrating raft. It is time to accept that reality is change and row in the same direction to a stronger future.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” ~ Heraclitus