Why is it so hard to make important changes in our lives — even the ones we genuinely want?
For instance, why do so many of us find it impossible to make positive lifestyle changes even though our health is at stake?
Robert Kegan, whom I first “met” through his brilliant book The Evolving Self, has an explanation for this puzzling problem. He describes it in this engaging video about his book called Immunity to Change.
The video’s a little long by modern standards at 14 minutes, but it’s worth listening to Kegan describe a tool that could change your life. Plus, he’s an entertaining speaker.
If you’ve got changes you want to make in your life, I highly recommend investing the time to watch this video. But if you don’t have time to watch right now you can scroll down and read a little bit about what it’s about.
Essentially Kegan asks us to examine the hidden downsides of making positive changes in our lives.
We may not always know why we don’t do the things we say we want to do. Becoming aware of the reason(s) can mean the difference between success and stagnation. And in some cases, even life and death!
I used the tool in the video to look at why I still haven’t tackled the pile of clutter beside my desk that’s been there for at least a year now, and why I haven’t made a lick of progress on pruning my files.
I had a sudden insight through doing this exercise: Neatness makes me anxious.
All that tidy, sterile space … without the comforting dollop of clutter … Yeesh.
Even these photos of super-tidy spaces makes me nervous. There’s too much order. It’s stifling.
It will take some more digging to get to the bottom of this.
In the meantime, take my word for it: Kegan’s thinking-about-change tool is worth a look.
What are you ready to change in your life?
4 thoughts on “Immunity to Change (Video)”
First of all Tina, that photo of the uber-organized pantry was made by a closet organizer company and bears no relation to what it would look like in a real person’s home even two months later! At least, that was *my* experience with it, lol.
I’m about to have my last blog post for a long while and this is the quote I will have on that day:
“I have accepted fear as a part of life –
specifically the fear of change…
I have gone ahead despite the pounding
in the heart that says: turn back.” – Erica Jong
Unless you’re dead, change is inevitable. Everything changes; some more slowly than others. If we are afraid of the changes we initiate we can slow them down perhaps but not stop them. Life goes on with or without our consent. To fully embrace life means to know that it’s finite, that every choice has a consequence, and that change CAN be good. What comes after a change CAN be better than what was before and if we choose the change and the rate at which it occurs then all the better. It’s all in perspective.
Does that make sense to you? Thank you for opening the dialogue. Miss Maura, the courageous
P.S. That pile of papers on your desk? Try moving the whole thing to another location and then you will be able to experience what it will feel like for you for that spot to be clear. It might not be as anxiety-making as you fear…and, you can always move them back. 😉 If you end up leaving them in the new location you’ll know you’ll be safe going through them at some point and then the whole pile may dissipate but you won’t feel bereft of the pile’s safety. Just a thought! Manageable chunks, in other words.
Thank you, Miss Maura, for this fabulous input. I will definitely move the pile. In fact, I’m going to go do that right now…
Wow. It turns out I really LIKE having that space free. Who knew? I won’t be moving it back anytime soon. But I’ll probably move it again when I get tired of looking at it in its new location. 😉
While reading Immunity to Change the first time through, I found myself working with an adult male client who was stuck in an undifferentiated, emotionally enmeshed romantic entanglement. He and his partner were engaged in the drama of ambivalence that is so common to people who are threatened by abandonment depression. He, being a smart professional, was willing to take the book and work the learning platform with me and his partner. She never got on board.
He used email to share his “immunity map” with me and over a period of eight weeks he changed. It was the deep change that needed to happen. He made adaptive-capacity building changes that encouraged his self-differentiation. He looked at the big assumption that he could not live without her (or a special woman in his life), tested it, and moved beyond the assumption.
He took a bike trip for a week to Vancouver, and he did it alone. Unilaterally, he disengaged from the control dramas that had him stuck. He created the freedom to redefine the relationship and gave that to his partner. When it wasn’t picked up, my client entered into an appropriate period of sad grieving, and then moved on gracefully. He was a larger person for the process. A workaholic before this, he became a more balanced person and his support staff at work was grateful.
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