In part, how we respond to change depends on who is leading the discussion.
4 Ways We Respond to Change
There are 4 types of responses to change. We can view these through the lens of cultural movements, and through the lens of our personal desires to change and what holds us back.
Some people actively don’t want to change. They view a potential change to the status quo as a threat to their current way of life. Resistors are against change because they seek to protect what they have. Even if the change is good for the greater good, they view it through the lens of what they will lose.
Our internal resistor is the part of ourselves that cling to what we have. Even if we see a better way, we know we will have to give up something to get there. Resistance is the voice of fear.
There are people who are neutral about change — they don’t care either way — because they don’t believe the problems with the status quo will ever affect them negatively.
Complacents are unaware of how the status quo is not serving them. They filter the negative impact. To the extent they see the places for higher standards, they don’t believe those things can or will change, or that they have agency to change them.
They look at the structures and say “This is how it’s always been. It’s been this way for so long that it won’t change.”
Our internal complacent is the parts of ourselves that believe that how we have always been is how we always will be. These are the voices that tell us we don’t have the power to make a change.
Some people can see how the status quo is not serving them, but they suppress the stirrings of pain that would give rise to the threshold of resolve. They desire change, but they suppress that desire.
Suppressors believe that initiating change is “bad.” This is the work of “troublemakers.” This mindset amplifies the fear of change. The fear becomes not only about the actual change, but also about the process of change.
Suppressors live in constant tension between desiring change and fearing change. Deep down, they feel the stirrings of pain that call them to change. But instead of allowing themselves to feel that pain, they suppress it. They don’t want to cause trouble, for themselves or others, so they don’t speak out.
Our inner suppressors keep keep us from reaching the threshold necessary for resolve. It’s the voice that tells us to look on the positive side and find the silver lining. It’s the inner judge that tells us not to feel the “negative” emotions we feel in a given situation.
If you live in fear of change you will live in a state of suppressed feelings — not just the “negative” feelings, but also the feelings of happiness and joy that you desire. You will live closed off to possibility. For to be open to possibility is to be open to change. You cannot embrace one without the other.
Catalysts embrace the emotions that lead to the threshold of resolve. They allow their anger and frustration to build inside them until they reach the point at which change is not optional; it is necessary.
Catalysts boldly set new standards and work to lift themselves or the world to those standards. They see the possibility and allow themselves to be in the pain of not living at their fullest potential. Because that’s the pain that leads to lasting change.
A catalyst believes so strongly in the higher standard and what is possible, that the how becomes a footnote.
The force that drives catalysts is an emotional force. It’s stronger than logic or reason, or even physical strength. The emotional force is what propels us to create something that never existed before, to break down walls and barriers and create worlds that never existed until we imagined them.
Our internal catalyst is the force that drives us to change despite all the odds. It the voice of wisdom that says, You may not know how, but you’ll figure it out. Just keep taking one step at a time.
Who is Leading?
We can think of these 4 responses to change as archetypes. All 4 of live inside each of us.
The question to ask yourself in any moment is:
Who’s in charge of my decisions?