Why is change perceived as negative when it is suggested by someone else?
We all probably have heard the phrase, “Never change for anyone” a couple of times in our lives. But why is that so? Why shouldn’t we change for other people? Should we never change for other people or only in certain occasions and for certain people?
an INTRINSICALLY authentic self
“Never change for anyone”, implies that we have an authentic self, that should stay authentic and not be altered by outer forces and influences. How was this authentic self created?
This authentic self is not as “authentic” as we think it is. From the day we are born, we are influenced and shaped in ways we cannot consciously remember. Our close environment, meaning, our parents, our grandparents, and our siblings – the people we spend most of our early time with – subconsciously shaped our personality and interests not only short but also long term. A different environment would have created a different human being. Even the same environment with the same people but in a different time would have created a different human being.
We are not as authentic as we think we are, so changing should not be something we should not do; even if it happens due to the criticism of someone else. Criticism is something I have talked about in an earlier blogpost. There should be certain criteria that we should take into consideration when evaluating the proposition for change.
Criteria for change
First of all we should evaluate the person proposing the change. What is our relationship with them? How long do we know them? Do they have our own good in mind when proposing change, or do they have their own interest in mind because they would benefit from the change?
Oftentimes, it is difficult to evaluate the other person and our relationship with them because we cannot enter their minds. We cannot be entirely sure of what the person is thinking and what its intentions are. That makes it difficult for us to decide whether or not to take the proposition seriously. Especially if we talk about a change in personality or a specific personality trait. When somebody tells us they do not like an aspect of our personality or behavior we tend to react negatively because we perceive it as an attack on our “authentic” self. Our personality is the essence of our being. Therefore, when such a proposition occurs we REALLY should spend time thinking about our relationship and the extent of the interdependence we have with this person.
Parents, siblings, and relatives of any kind seem to be people we more often than not can trust to have our own good in mind when proposing a change. Nevertheless, we cannot just blindly follow their advice without evaluating the change and its consequences. Because we do not know the emotional state they were in when they suggested the change. At this time, they may not even believe in it anymore. Therefore their judgement should be assessed. Do they even have success in what they are proposing? Should one take relationship advice from a relative that does not have a long and successful relationship? Should one take health and fitness advice from a relative who does not look healthy him-/herself or take advice on happiness and satisfaction in life from a person who does not look happy and satisfied him-/herself?
The advice may be productive and eventually have positive consequences. Nonetheless, it needs to be thoroughly analyzed before being implemented. Under those circumstances, it should not as much matter where the advice is coming from, but instead the advice for change itself should be evaluated.
Change does not equal losing freedom
Markus Aurelius says it best, “Remember that to change course or accept correction leaves you just as free as you were. The action is your own; driven by your own impulse and judgement, indeed your own intelligence.”
Many times, when the proposition or the thought for change comes from our own selves, we are proud of having figured out something that will improve our lives. When someone else gives us advice we tend to react negatively out of arrogance as well as pride.
A proposition and the action are two different things, though, because somebody making a proposition for change does not immediately mean that we are going or we should act on it. The action itself happens because we have decided to implement the suggested measures. It is purely our decision to act. Therefore, as already mentioned, merely the advice itself should be analyzed no matter where it comes from. We should always act as reasonable human beings and not let our inferior emotions be the masters of our mind.