“We often don’t realize what we can do, until we’re faced with what we believe we can’t do.”
Humans tend to resist Change. Why is that?
In order to deal effectively with the Challenges of Change, it’s often helpful to begin with an understanding and appreciation for why we tend to Resist Change. As a raft guide in the Grand Canyon, I’ve learned a lot from the natural world metaphors and stories of people overcoming their resistance to change. Rapids are a great metaphor for just that. There are several examples from the rapids to help us gain insight to this resistance.
First, rapids are formed when debris from a rock fall or a flash flood from a side canyon gets imposed on the river system. As a result, the width of the river is reduced. The laws of physics require that a volume that has to flow through a narrower space must speed up. The additional speed and added debris create what we call a rapid. When Change is Imposed on us, there can be a natural resistance to something we haven’t asked for.
Even change that we choose can be messy and uncomfortable. A rapid can look and feel threatening. On the river that threat is to our physical safety. In life, the Rapids of Change can feel threatening to our way of life, our sense of safety and security.
In addition to the above, if you don’t know how to “read the river”, a rapid can look and feel chaotic. No one wants to feel that his or her life is chaotic. However, we experience chaos when we are unwilling or unable to see beyond the apparent chaos to the pattern that exists. If you know how to “read the river”, ie, read the situation that seems chaotic, you can also develop strategies to find a safe and enjoyable (really!) way through the rapid.
Finally, the river just upstream of a major rapid is usually very calm. As a result, the reflections on the river are like being in an art museum. Regrettably, no one is appreciating the art around them at that moment, because the spitting white water and sound of the freight train just downstream are conjuring images of mayhem. Fear is what is present.
The irony? Once we’ve successfully navigated the rapid, people often want to go back and run it again. One of my passengers, who experienced great fear above his first major rapid, said later he had gone from “the brink of death to sheer exhilaration in thirty seconds.”
In the next blog, we’ll take a look at why he had that shift, and what needs to be present to overcome our resistance to change.