Change is inevitable. And yet, our brains can sometimes put up a good fight!

Why does our brain resist change?  The brain’s primary functions are to 1) keep us safe and 2) avoid discomfort and pain. Its next priorities are to 3) conserve energy and 4) move toward pleasure.  

When faced with change, the brain often perceives it as a threat to our well-being (real or imagined). This perception triggers a protective mechanism, similar to an internal alarm system, which can result in resistance to change. The discomfort we feel during change is the brain’s way of signaling potential danger, urging us to tread carefully.

This instinct, while protective, can also hinder our ability to embrace new opportunities and experiences in the workplace.

Why Change Feels Uncomfortable

Imagine your brain is like a well-trodden path through a forest. This path represents your routine and habits. Now, when change comes along, it’s like being asked to forge a new path through an uncharted part of the forest. It’s unfamiliar and requires more effort. You’ll recall from above that our brain’s third priority is to conserve energy, and our brain has to work harder to carve out new paths. That can be stressful, and tiring.

It may not all be bad

Our brain uses past experiences as a reference. Our past experiences significantly influence how we perceive and react to change. If our experiences were negative, our brain might send signals saying that “this” is not a great idea. But if we’ve had positive experiences with change in the past, we’re likely to be more open to new changes.

Now, the good news… neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity simply means our brains are moldable, providing the ability to adapt. Like clay in the hands of a sculptor, our brains can form new connections and pathways. It’s the reason you can learn new skills and adapt to new situations – including changes in the workplace.

Neuroplasticity is our brain’s superhero power. It’s the ability to rewire and adapt. Just like muscles get stronger with exercise, our brain develops new pathways when we learn new things. So, when change occurs, our brain can adjust – it just takes a little time and effort. And, it may be easier to adapt to the next change that comes our way.

So, how do we make this transition easier? By taking small steps. Start by altering small parts of your routine. This gradual approach can ease the brain into new patterns, making the overall change less daunting.

Understanding and embracing change is essential for both personal and professional growth. In today’s dynamic work environment, being skilled in productively managing change is a valuable asset.

While embracing change is important, striking a balance between tradition and innovation is equally crucial. Maintaining a sense of stability and continuity, while being open to new ideas and approaches, can create a harmonious work environment and inner peace.

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