Change is the only constant – 5 Principles of Human Change

Our ability to change, and adapt to change, is what keeps our life going. We experience change on a very frequent basis, in various forms, often multiple times a day. Some changes are small and inconsequential, while others can dramatically affect our lives. Some changes are positive. Others are negative. While many more are of little or no significance.

Our ability to adapt to change depends on a multitude of factors, some of which are within our control and some that are not. Depending on the type and the nature of change, we as humans seek ways to adapt to (or mitigate) the consequences of the change.

In this blog, we discuss ways to explore and define the elements involved in our ability to comprehend, process, and react to change. These ways, or principles, which are an integral part of our evolutionary make-up, enable us to comprehend, evaluate and respond to the effects of change.

Change: Accept & Adapt

Our bodies and our physiology have been carefully tailored by nature and evolution for hundreds of thousands of years. During our evolutionary journey, we as humans have been designed (and redesigned) to withstand the physical and emotional challenges of everyday life.

The concept of change fundamentally involves the process of transforming, altering and becoming different. By itself, change is neither positive nor negative, it’s how we perceive it. However, change, in its various forms, seems to be a constant staple in our lives. It occurs frequently, and as such, it affects us in various ways.

A positive change is always great to have, and it usually does not require extensive amounts of pre- and post-change processing and analysis. However, negative change is always more difficult to deal with, the principles of which we will discuss in detail further:

Principle One — Change is a Constant

We are all aware that continuous changes are a part of the human experience and occur in our everyday lives. Many changes are outside of our control; road construction which change the traffic patterns on our way to work; mechanical problems or bad weather causing unexpected flight delays– such changes are beyond our control. Understanding and acknowledging the fact that changes are a constant occurrence helps us to prepare and handle changes (and their consequences) when they take place. Having previous experiences with the similar type of change makes our response process easier.

Eg. Changes in the dynamics of a relationship are a constant occurrence – some that are caused by us (such as friction due to an argument) and some which are beyond our control (such as a bad day at work reflecting in the mood at home)

Principle Two — Anticipation of Change

Anticipation of Change is largely complementary to the Change is Constant principle. The process of Anticipation of Change likely takes place in the background, perhaps in our subconscious, which allows us to react rationally and purposefully once an unexpected change event occurs.

Eg. A death in your loved one’s family is certainly going to cause pain & destress for a period of time, not only on your partner, but even in your relationship. You anticipate this change when such an event occurs, and prepare yourself to react rationally and in a supportive manner.

Principle Three — Change Factors Analysis

This process can vary in length, magnitude, and vary from person to person. As we are faced with a change, we analyze the factors, which have contributed or could have contributed to the change. This activity serves several purposes. For one, we attempt to understand which internal factors are responsible for the change, such as our behavior, etc. and whether we could have (or did have) any control over those factors. In doing so, we develop mental systems to avoid a similar type of change in the future.

Eg. When there is a distasteful argument in a relationship, we often end up analyzing the factors which could have led to this argument, and how they can be avoided in the future. This brings about an overall change in our behaviour towards our partner, which integrates over time, steering us towards a happier, healthier relationship.

Principle Four — To Change or Not to Change

Having completed the previous three steps we make the ultimate decision of how to respond to a change, especially if it requires changing our own personal patterns of behavior. This coincides with doing our personal risk analysis as well. Adjustment of our individual patterns of behavior based on change likely plays the biggest role in how we process the consequences of such change.

Eg. Making changes to your behaviour & attitude for your partner is a matter of choice – we may go that extra mile if they really matter, or not if it costs losing one’s own individuality.

Principle Five — The Post-Change Analysis

The depth and the scope of the Post-Change Analysis vary from person to person. Depending on the extent and the impact of the change itself, this process may take anywhere from a few seconds to several days or even weeks. In this phase, much like in the Change Factor Analysis phase, we look for ways and methods to mitigate the impact of the change on our daily lives, especially should such change occur again in the future.

Eg. The changes we make in our behaviour towards our partner has a direct impact on how we behave & treat others around us. We often look for ways and methods to mitigate this impact of change on our daily lives, such that a balance is maintained.