Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why are we so afraid and resistant to change?

Saw this on DarylTalk. The illustration below caught my attention because .. well, to be honest, I went through that exact same path as well. Unlike the author on DarylTalk (who wished to be a garbage collector because he thought it was cool standing behind a smelly moving truck wtf), I couldn’t recall what my ambition was until I started schooling.

Teacher: Erica, what do you aspire to be when you grow up?
Cute 7-year old me: A doctor / a lawyer!

If I were to give an unconventional answer like a carpenter or a garbage collector, they will probably alert my parents, try to talk me out of it or send me for counseling sessions.

So I stuck with that answer until I was 16, where I had to take up new subjects like Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I hated Biology and History so it’s a big no-no to both medical and law school! What I did enjoy was Physics. My brain was somehow tuned to accept all the crazy formulas and concepts (it was crazy enough for us back then) that I immediately knew what I wanted to be - an Electrical and Electronics Engineer.

After SPM however, I wanted to be an air stewardess because I wanted to travel and see the world. But of course, my parents being the very typical Asian kind, they flatly rejected my desire and “strongly encouraged” (in other words, forced) me to accept the study scholarship to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in EE Engineering.

I have no regrets though.

You see, we grow up experiencing all sorts of changes in life. This example alone showed the changes I went through in the earlier stages of my life.

So why is change so difficult for grown-ups like us now?

Why are we so afraid and resistant to change?

You doubt yourself

The thought of making a life change can be so intimidating that you kick start that intention by doubting yourself and wonder if you are up for that kind of challenge. With that doubt planted in you, things will seem a lot harder than they really are, and you start playing the “what if?” game:

What if I fail?
What if I overestimated my capabilities?
What if this path makes my life worse than how it is now?

You start to question if you are capable in accomplishing it, and may even try to convince yourself that you can’t do it. To be honest, I was terribly guilty of that as well. My confidence level was so low that if someone were to question something I said, I would immediately conclude that what I said was wrong. 

Even while preparing for job interviews, my England would be on auto-activation mode – broken sentences, multiple grammatical errors, and so on – and I wouldn’t be able to maintain good eye contact with the interviewer(s).

We tend to follow the norm or settle for whatever we have because there isn't any immediate impact or lifestyle change. We keep convincing ourselves that hey, it's actually not thatttt bad, so why should we put ourselves out there? This happens when we put too much focus on the perks we have been given, like staff benefits, performance bonus, and so on, irregardless of our own career progression and job satisfaction. Some would rather be trapped in situations they do not want to be in - because maybe, just maybe .. they are afraid of what lies ahead in the unchartered path.

Instead of wasting our time/energy/brain cells/oxygen to imagine the worst thing that could happen, why don’t we think of the best thing that could possibly happen too? The odds are equal, 50-50. Having the confidence and courage to be in control provides you with a life full of purpose and happiness.

I believe that is what we all are trying to achieve.

This serves as a good reminder to myself too.

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