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Resistance is Futile
Resistance is Futile

“Has anyone noticed that we used to welcome change and were open to it, but now we’re all like Blowfish, puffing up our ego’s and trying to ward off change like the plague?” This is the observation my client mentioned in a conversation last week after attending an important company event. The image that came to mind in my imagination made me laugh out loud. I was picturing a bunch of executives with their upper bodies blown up like balloons and spikes on their skin! A force of resistance by the many, trying to thwart the neverending onslaught of change all around us. We chuckled about the thought, but it lead to a very rich conversation about why so many of us feel overwhelmed and resistant to the world around us these days. Change is happening too fast for us mere humans. Or is it us that is creating it? 

The essence of the problem is that change used to be contained in “periods of change” or “event of transition” that began and had an end. We’d get a break as we could see the light at the end of a tunnel. But more and more, my clients are saying “this feels different than it used to...something bigger is happening now”. Indeed, change used to be caused by internal company changes. Now it is compounded by huge perceptions of worldwide change happening in the entire world outside us and affecting us. As such, it’s causing many of us to live with constant stress hormones coursing through our systems. And the human body is not designed to thrive like that. Good stress that is short term helps us perform in the moment. Periods of stress are manageable in fast sprints where we get a break to rest. But chronic stress that’s neverending sends cortisol coursing through our bodies 24/7/365 and actually makes us sick. In fact, everyone knows stress is one of the biggest precursors of disease in the world. So what can we do about it? 

I think the answer lies in character strength, practiced inside ourselves, so we build a strong inner compass. Only then can we keep ourselves balanced and stable in the midst of chaos. 
One of the most important choices we make is to be very discerning about what we expose ourselves to in our environment. What goes into our mind, becomes part of our mind. It gets wired into our brain networks while we sleep and shapes the very patterns of our future thought. So why aren’t we more careful about what we expose our permeable minds to then? Because human nature has a bias toward negativity. It looks for, is intrigued by and attends to any possible danger in order to help us survive a dangerous world. Even if it’s just our Netflix channel. Have you ever watched a scary series and binged on it, even though you were also generally freaked out by the content that puts you in a strange mood? Of course, you have. The mind wants to know what to do when something bad happens, so it studies such things. Obsessively. 

But here’s the thing. Most of us won’t encounter the extreme stories we see on TV or in games or books. We’re wiring our brains to react to the real world in a way that comes from fiction. That’s potentially dangerous in that it can plant seeds of action that might sneak up on us. My biggest worry about excessively negative media exposure is that when people are exposed to a newscast about a devastating school shoot-up, then all the sudden similar events start multiplying around the world. Why? Because our TVs gave other people who are hurting an idea about how to get attention. Another option for how to act on their adolescent anger. Then, as the incidents escalate, we all feel just a little more anxious about the world and what it’s coming to. It’s easy to become hopeless in a world such as this. 

Yet, there’s a way to be part of the solution and inspire better behavior in the world through what we choose to do with our time. Sometimes you see hope rising in the media too. Like, yesterday I saw a news story about how apparel companies are starting to use fashion models that look like real people. With scars, and imperfect skin, and different body types. They are doing this for a reason and they are telling this through their advertisements - to increase self-esteem in young people. And it’s working. What if we could inspire more of this? 

My challenge to all of us who want to see more hope is to think of ways to be discerning that will promote reality. Not overly positive (delusion) and not overly negative (paranoid). Just right. The closer we can get to what’s real while providing hope for a positive future. Then with our eyes, our hands, our ears and our dollars, we can begin to influence the world to produce media, products and marketing that promote well-being. That’s the world I want for my children and grandchildren. And of course for myself. That’s the world I am committed to influencing for good. 

Let’s vote with our fingers and keyboards for a week. And see what’s possible.