Why Resisting Change is Boring

Why Resisting Change is Boring: "

In recent posts (here and here), I’ve been sharing about some of the powerful life skills and lessons I’ve been gleaning from impro story-telling. Impro is a form of theatre where the story is made up by the team of actors as they act it out. Nobody knows where the story will go, because they’re creating it together on the spot, often in collaboration with the audience. The context of uncertainty that’s created within the impro games and story-telling sessions is in many ways similar to the fast-paced, high-change, unpredictable environments that many of us are living and working in these days, so I’ve found a lot of the impro perspectives and skills are highly relevant to thriving in this era - particularly the perspectives on embracing, rather than resisting, uncertainty and change.

Why we resist change

You’ve probably realized this yourself: on a deep level, we guard ourselves against change. From a survival point of view, our bodies are designed to avoid change and keep returning to homeostasis. And there’s a good reason for this - the body can only tolerate a small amount of change at a time, and when it comes to integral systems such as blood pressure and body temperature, the body can tolerate very little variance. So the body instinctively resists change, in order to survive. And when we’re living our lives automatically, rather than consciously, the mind becomes a servant to the body, and we’ll find ourselves fearing and resisting change in all areas of our lives. But, while the body is concerned with survival, and avoiding change will probably ensure your survival (until you die at least… it’s gonna happen in the end), our hearts, minds and spirits need change and growth in order to thrive. One of the impro mantras that we learned in the impro workshop really affirmed this idea for me:

“When you’re changing, you’re interesting…”

When you’re changing, you’re interesting

As with all entertainment, impro is interesting and entertaining when there’s something happening, and since you rarely have props on the stage, the interest and entertainment is all in the individual actors, their characters and how they relate to each other. Think of your favorite movies or books - one of the things that makes the main characters interesting is that they are in some way changed by the events or interactions in the story.

For me, this is so true in life. On some level, we’re all perceiving a story in each other, and we’re all putting out stories about ourselves. And the reason why some people attract more attention and interest (and fame/ money, etc) is that they’re putting out interesting stories - stories in which they’re changing. It’s the reason why people like Madonna have remained interesting over the years. She’s reinvented herself regularly, because she knows that she has to keep changing if she wants to remain interesting to her audience. And it’s the reason why actors like Hugh Grant have faded into the distance - he hasn’t changed and so he’s no longer interesting and we’ve moved on. I think this is a powerful idea to consider when it comes to relationships and leadership. If you want to be successful at relationships and leadership, you’re going to need to be committed to your life-long learning, change and growth.

What about the times when people reject us when we change?

I know that some people will say that they think that relationships can be shaken up and damaged by change, and I think this confirms the idea that, “When you’re changing, you’re interesting.” Often the reason the relationship ends is because one person was changing and the other person wasn’t, so somebody outgrew the relationship. I’ve seen this in my relationship with Andy. We got married when I was twenty and there were people who said that I was too young, that I wasn’t old enough to have “found myself” yet, and that we were taking a risk because we could still both change a lot and outgrow each other. While a lot of people see marriage as a limiting institution, when we got married, our vows were pretty much that we were committing ourselves to helping each other be more, and to live and expand our potential. And that’s what we’ve done. Andy is not the man I married, and I’m not the woman he married. And thank God for that! We’ve both been continuously changing, and that’s one of the things that’s kept us interesting to each other over the past 11 years we’ve been together.

So, I’m interested… how have you experienced the impact of change on your relationships? How has changing made your relationships (and your life) more interesting?

Photo by Wok