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Why don't people like change?

Why don’t people like change?

It’s easier to understand if we look at it as though we prefer things to be the same.

The picture is a diagram of the Limbic System, or emotional centre of the brain. Within it, towards the bottom left (small blue bit) is the Hypothalamus.

A diagram of the brain

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In simple terms, this is our brains central control unit. It’s what drives all of our automatic functions. Like a CPU in a computer – when you turn it on, the CPU starts all of the automatic functions, opens up the programmes needed to operate.

On a computer, you’re able to change these automatic functions. You can set some programmes to open automatically, and stop others.

The hypothalamus does allow us to do this too. What’s missing though is a delete function. Unlike on a computer, you can’t just delete the old behaviours that you no longer want.

What’s more, the synapses (neural pathways) that tell us to behave a certain way, or carry out certain functions, have been maintained, and optimised, for a very long time – they’re like modern day fibre optic, superfast, broadband.

The new synapses, that tell us to behave in a new way, or carry out new functions, have only just been installed. They haven’t been used properly yet, they haven’t been maintained or optismised. They’re like 1990s dial up internet.

This is why changing habits, giving up unhealthy ones, or accepting change in the workplace, is so hard. It’s not that we don’t like change. It’s just that the new neural pathways that drive the new behaviour haven’t been optimised yet.

Be patient with yourself, and with others. People’s resistance to change is often more about our automatic functions, rather than an unwillingness to engage.

Keep the new desired behaviour/action foremost in your conscious mind. Do what you need to do to remind yourself of the benefits of the new actions. Keep using the new pathway, the more you do, the more optimised it’ll become, and the easier the new behaviour will be. Eventually, you’ll stop using the old one because the new one is the strongest.

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