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Embrace Change Head On

Embrace Change Head On

Change is all around us every minute of our day – the seasons change, the trees change, and even the weather changes. Especially if you're living in Melbourne, you can have four seasons in one day. People change and their moods change. Your daily cravings change; what you ate for dinner last night is not necessary what you want for tonight. Your workload changes from day to day. Your desires change; what you really liked today you may just hate tomorrow. Change is not only inevitable, but it is necessary for us to grow.

If nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies. Just as a caterpillar thinks the world is over, it becomes a butterfly. There is no growth without change, and there is no world without growth.

Some of us thrive on change to the point where we are constantly seeking change. Some of us despise change and avoid it like the plague; then there are some of us that are just not fussed about change. It’s fair to say that some of us are ready for change and some of us are not. It is on an individual basis.

To better understand the concept, let’s take a closer look at what change actually is.

What is Change?

Change is about moving from the current – something that is known and familiar – to something that is new and unfamiliar.

Familiarity is what our unconscious mind is seeking constantly to keep us safe, alive and in the past. We are creatures of habit, and we find comfort in regularity. Our unconscious mind will always gravitate to what is known, not necessarily what is best for you. Our mind is seeking comfort and is afraid of discomfort or change.

Therefore, our unconscious mind finds the unknown scary because it can’t calculate a known outcome with an unknown variable. This is why people tend to repeat behaviours that they know – 95% of our behaviours and decisions are controlled by the unconscious mind.

This is why, when creating change, we must override the mind. We must allow for an unknown variable – something different that the mind is not yet aware of. As the saying goes – you don’t know what you don’t know. The mind knows everything that it knows, but it doesn’t know everything that is possible.

Why Are We Afraid of Change?

The number one aspect that most people fear or worry about when it comes to change is the loss of something such as:

  • Jobs
  • Autonomy
  • Competence
  • Remuneration
  • Responsibilities
  • Security
  • Purpose
  • Identity
  • Relationships with people
  • Certainty
  • Connections
  • Hours
  • Location

And… then of course are their expectations of an outcome. When you set expectations, you are leading to disappointment and pain.

[Related: How I Take Career Risks]

Why Do We React Differently to Change?

Now that we have greater insight into why we fear change, let’s have a look at why people react differently to change:

  • Gut instincts
  • Habits
  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Experience

All of the above are the reactions that are driven by the unconscious mind. Your unconscious mind is here to protect you. Think about a time when you were affected by change. How did you feel? How did you respond? And… how different is the change when you made the decision to change compared to a change that was imposed on you?

Even though we desire boundaries, human nature tends to rebel against supreme authority – we do not like to be told what to do and how to do it. So we rebel. Imposed change makes you feel like you have a loss of control, and when that change happens suddenly with no time to digest the information, we naturally will resist.

The one thing you have control over is how your react to the change!

Factors that can influence how we react to change are:

  • How well we understand the why
  • Our previous experience to change
  • Levels of trust in the individual or organisation
  • How many times we have gone through change

Many organisations and individuals are great at telling us what the change is and how we are going to do it, but they don’t quite get to the why. The unconscious motivator of all aspects of life is getting to the root cause, the why.

How Do You Deal with Negative Responses to Change?

Change may sometimes come with critical feedback or resistant individuals. But don’t worry; there is a solution at hand.

When a group or an individual undergoes change, it is not the organisation that changes but the behaviour of the individuals. Understanding change at an individual level is essential to achieve any large scale of change.

We know that change is inevitable and that we all go about change in a different manner. However, we need to focus on the individual transaction of the change. This means that change is an external event – out with the old and in with the new. Transition, nevertheless, is an internal process – an emotional process that one goes through when dealing with external change.

That right there is the secret to working through change; the way we manage the transition is even more important than the specific change itself.

[Related: My Keys to Successful Career Transitions]

How do we do it?

  • Involve your team on projects – have change agents
  • Get to understand where they are at with the change – what are their fears and what do they worry about?
  • Constant communication even if you don’t have all the answers or information
  • Plan properly – focusing on what you can control will help you and your team stay positive. Instead of keeping them stuck, gossiping, and dropping in productivity, help the team move towards change.

We all have conscious free will and choice. The magical things that happen when you begin to pay attention to you are amazing. The great news is that you can change your unconscious mind by asking one simple question – What else is possible for me that I have never yet considered?

[Related: How to Manage Changes and Transitions Successfully]


Catherine Plano is an International Keynote Speaker and Executive Coach, Leadership Development Professional, Queen of Transformation, a Creative Soul Adventurer, a Theorist and Provocateur of Change, and … an Agent of Philosophy.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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