Why Change Is Tough and What to Do About It

strategic-secrets-university-courses-bannerIt’s The One Thing We All Want To Do But Resist At the Same Time

Change is a necessity of life and should be as natural as breathing in and out. Yet change is not always readily embraced and can be downright difficult to accomplish. Perhaps the most daunting thing to reconcile within the human psyche is why many people do not change when they need to. This cognitive dissonance can almost be maddening considering a person can be very educated, maybe even considered “wise”, yet lack the discipline, will, and fortitude to change when change is deemed necessary and inevitable.

For example, students are given ample time to complete an assignment, know that they should complete it, yet most of the times will wait until the very last moments to finish the assignment. Many people know smoking is bad yet even doctors smoke, despite the Surgeon General’s warning printed on each carton. The populace generally knows they need regular exercise yet as a nation, we struggle with obesity and chronic sedentary lifestyle-related (and preventable) diseases.

In fact, Alan Deutschman in his bestselling book, Change or Die, asks the poignant question, “Could you change when change matters most?” He asserts that most people rarely ever change their behavior although we all have the ability to do so. Additionally, Deutschman found that as much as ninety percent of patients suffering from heart disease do not change their lifestyles even when given the pronouncement, Change or Die! 1

A similar trend is found whether it be repeat offenders for crimes in the justice system, marriages headed for disaster, or businesses that choose to cling to their outdated models and systems in the face of data that says they are failing miserably. The foremost authority on the topic of change, John P. Kotter, the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at Harvard, and author of twelve bestsellers, tackles this side of organizational challenges to change in his book, Leading Change.


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Religion is not immune from this paradox either. The Judeo-Christian world wrestles with the dichotomy between what’s preached and what’s actually practiced. Imagine being taught of God, for Whom nothing is impossible, yet many adherents of such creeds find grave difficulty changing habits and behaviors that are opposed to what he or she believes to be true. They are frustrated in their prayer life because what they experience in reality is different from what they read in the Sacred Scriptures.

The Apostle Paul postulates on this dilemma in the seventh chapter of his epistle to the Romans. There, he wrote:

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” 2

There may be, no doubt, various solutions to this reality. However, one that most clearly gets to the heart of the issue is an indirect application of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s now famous statement in The Social Contract, “Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains.”

The strongest chains that bind mankind are those of his own mind.

Mortimer J. Adler said, “Freedom is the emancipation from the arbitrary rule of other men.” Yet who will free a man or woman of the debilitating imaginings of their own mind? On the other hand, Adler also said, “True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.” The legendary Reggae singer and songwriter, Bob Marley, captures this sentiment in his hit song, Redemption Song, where he stated, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery….”

If indeed, every organ of the body was made to be servant to the mind and the mind is the capital of the body, then pioneer and health reformer of yesteryear, Ellen White had it right when she said:

“The mind controls the whole man. All our actions, good or bad, have their source in the mind. It is the mind that worships God and allies us to heavenly beings. Yet many spend all their lives without becoming intelligent in regard to the casket [jewel case] that contains this treasure.” 3

She did not stop there but noted that, far too little thought is given to the causes underlying the mortality, the disease and degeneracy, that exist today even in the most civilized and favored lands. Her belief, which has been confirmed by modern scientific journals, and similar to Deutschman’s findings (earlier noted), is that, nine tenths of the diseases from which men suffer have their foundation in the mind and the way they think.

Perhaps, she argued, some living home trouble is, like a canker, eating to the very soul and weakening the life-forces. Remorse for sin sometimes undermines the constitution and unbalances the mind. There are erroneous doctrines also, as that of an eternally burning hell and the endless torment of the wicked that, by giving exaggerated and distorted views of the character of God, have produced the same result upon sensitive minds. 4

To borrow from the U.S. Navy’s core values, it will take honor, courage, and commitment to look more closely at the effects of mental belief and conditioning upon our behaviors and habits. This could provide great positive results for change, at a much cheaper cost than dispensing, primarily, more drugs and similar treatments.

What if the masses can find liberation by simply addressing their mindsets and internal stories? Religionists can do more than “pray” for healing and deliverance and actually be healed or delivered from maladies of the mind, body, soul, and others of an emotional or psychosomatic nature. I’m as hopeful as Aristotle on this concept, who once said, “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”


Works Cited:

1. Deutschman, Alan. Change or Die. (New York, NY: Harper Business, 2007).

2. Romans 7:15, 19, 24 (New King James Version).

3. White, Ellen. Mind, Character, and Personality. Volume 1. (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1977), 72.

4. Ibid., 59.