Saturday, May 1, 2010
Change is an inevitable part of life. Nothing in life is permanent. Everything changes. For most of us -- regardless of whether the change is good or bad -- change causes stress. Why is this? Why should we feel stressed about something that happens constantly and repeatedly over the course of our lives? I've been giving this a lot of thought recently and have come up with a few ideas.
I believe that resistance to change creates stress (suffering). Even if you're not actively doing anything to prevent the change from taking place you might be resisting it internally. In your mind you might be wishing that things would stay the same or you might be having difficulty accepting that things are now different. This internal resistance puts you at odds with what's happening in the outside world. This conflict between internal and external creates tension.
Change is often accompanied by uncertainty, particularly during periods of transition. The outcome of a given change might not be known. While the change is being implemented and before any results have been produced there is a period of uncertainty. Many people have trouble tolerating uncertainty. We often fear the unknown. When we are faced with uncertainty but are unable to tolerate it we become anxious.
Another reason change can be stressful is because often it requires us to do something to adapt. That is to say that one change might require us to make additional changes in our behaviors in order to re-establish equilibrium. The changes we need to make in order to adapt might not be readily apparent. We might need to brainstorm or problem solve in order to identify how to adjust our actions so that they make sense given the change in circumstances.
Change is stressful for all these reasons and probably others. The challenge for me -- and for all of us -- is to learn to approach change with equanimity.