Normally, when we decide to initiate a change project, we primarily focus on traumatic events in our lives. Traumatic events – generally speaking – have a significant impact on our decision to change and normally are the “force” and primary source of our motivation to initiate a change project. However, a traumatic event is seldom enough to sustain a productive change project. What really determine a successful change project in the end, is our ability to identify and manage little jackals of change. The Little Jackals of Change, are plenty of little things that we do repetitively, which “accumulate over time” and we don’t even realize that it is subtly sabotaging our efforts to change.
Thus, traumatic events normally compel us to change and little jackals normally subtly sabotage our best change efforts and intentions. Generally speaking, little jackals of change centres around our beliefs, perceptions, views, choice & action justifications, excuses, rationalizations, validations, why & wherefore’s, sanctification, …etc. Which – in the end – are solely determining our change attitude and the sustainability of our change project.
With coaching, guidance and facilitation activities, more emphasis is placed on the little jackals of change, rather than traumatic events. Mainly, because that what has happened, cannot be undone (i.e. you cannot un-experience or un-see something) you can only learn lessons from the it. Therefore, coaching – inclusive of guidance, advice, facilitation – apply the PVC-principle as basis to UNDERSTAND the past, CALIBRATE the present and CHOOSE FOR the future.
Most people find ignoring little jackals quite appealing, because it is quick, easy and it takes very little effort… for a brief moment that is true. Unfortunately though, you are actually (by choice, I might add) voluntary “paining yourself into an emotional corner” and – eventually – there is very little else you can do about it, but to blame others, events or circumstances; regard life as hostile & unfair; relieve your “pain” with addictions and various mind defences. Which gradually (on the long run) completely erode your self-determination.
Sadly, many people prefer to waste a lot of time, effort and energy to maintain their comfort zone of little jackals, when they could – just as easily – apply the same amount of time, effort and energy on DOING SOMETHING more constructively to really address the problem and stop dealing with the symptoms of the problem. The personal cost of “disregarding” the impact of little jackals on the sustainability of any change effort (i.e. project) is quite high in terms of self-determination.
However, what appeals to most people is the fact, that by not dealing with our little jackals of change, you can “safely project” your personal change responsibility “out there” for others to deal with and you can’t fail, you can safely blame others, circumstances or events and others quickly realizes your resistance to adjust to change, so they often stop bugging you.
Little jackal excuses and justification to NOT taking responsibility for change, are as varied as there are people on this planet. The following list of “little jackal excuses” are some of the more popular excuses frequently used by many to avoid responsibility for change and with the implies message appearing in brackets…
- A person can’t get better until s/he hits the bottom (i.e. only an extreme pain or a crisis could change his/her mind, in the meantime I cannot do anything),
- I’ve already tried everything (i.e. none of your advice, strategies and solutions will work for me),
- A leopard can’t change his spots (i.e. people cannot change, regardless…),
- There isn’t enough time (i.e. things must happen quickly, else I am not interested and also a laziness to put in an effort),
- The result isn’t worth the effort (i.e. you do the changes, I am happy with my head in the sand. And besides, it isn’t a priority of mine),
- It’s much too radical (i.e. afraid to take the necessary risks to “experiment with success”, I much rather avoid failure),
- I am far too busy with more important things and do not have the time (i.e. it is much easier to force my expectations with the power of brutality and fear manipulation to get things done my way. Reasoning, cooperation, sharing and co-creation is a waste of time to get the result that I want),
- It’s never been done before (i.e. I am really scared of failure),
- It is unrealistic (i.e. I will not improve myself, no matter what),
- That isn’t really my problem to solve (i.e. I am overwhelmed, confused and haven’t got a clue what to do next),
- I can actually do nothing about it (i.e. I am helpless, please take over),
and so on, and so on….
Considering the above, it is quite AMAZING how many people are convinced that coping with change are, either impossible or somebody else’s responsibility. ALSO NOTE….. How often individual’s expect professionals to change their circumstances, but they “refuse” to accept the responsibility for implementing the changes themselves. That is and always will be utter nonsense. We all can benefit from the advice and contribution from others, BUT as the familiar saying goes… “You can lead a horse to water, BUT you can’t make it THINK!”
What are the essential “little jackal“-obstacles you need to overcome when you decide to do something? The most common barriers, obstacles and excuses are…
A reluctance to admit to the necessity of change
A rebellion against the pressures of change
A resignation to stay the same
Rationalizing that undesirable behaviour is really all right
The above barriers are some of the main obstacles that you might face and need to address to overcome little jackals. BUT …please… do not underestimate little jackals, because they are awfully powerful and very, very influential. In most cases, “little jackal“-excuses, “kicks in” quite “naturally” and when you are unaware of the powerful influence of such excuses regarding your attitude towards the what and how of change, you could easily end up in a dead-end street (i.e. get derailed or stuck).
So what can you do about the above excuses and to eliminate, or at the very least, limit your justifications for avoiding to take personal responsibility for change?
When someone said something demeaning about a person and that individual responds…..
- by laughing it off or saying “they didn’t really mean it, its no big deal“. That person is probably prone to use denial, or minimization as a defence mechanism.
- by saying “That person is just mean spirited, besides one can’t please everybody, these things happen” or “there are deep psychological reasons why he or she said what he or she did“, that person is a rationalizer or an intellectualizer.
- by boiling over, verbally and/or physically attacking the person or assuming they are completely evil, s/he is “externalizing” the causes of the problem.
- self-critical and felt completely blamable for his/her own opinion, that person is “internalizing” the causes of the problem.
In essence, discover what defence mechanisms you prefer to apply most often, and do something about it. Thus, “force” yourself, with questions, to face upsetting problems and/or situations, avoid explaining away criticism, empathize with others and find destructive ways to vent your anger or frustration.
Facilitators, on the other hand, emphatically assist you to think about your problems and possible solutions before finally implementing change. However, facilitators assistance don’t push people into premature action, only share views, knowledge, experiences and refrain from judgement. Rather seek the assistance of FACILITATORS.
- When studying more, you are losing some valuable time to relax, you need to find some additional time to relax or calm yourself down when tense, perhaps by getting up an hour earlier each morning.
- When working overtime are taking you away from your friends, you need to acquire new friends or interact with your friends on a different time.
- When working over a weekend is limiting your time with your family, you should organize to have an especially enjoyable time during the times that the family has together.
- If becoming more assertive and independent is creating some stress with those around you and result in loneliness, you may need to “work it out” with the individuals concerned or become more involved with individuals who’s company you prefer or enjoy.
Taking care of the negative effects of change in a responsible manner will reduce the inclination to backslide, postpone or to return to the “old“, suddenly “not so bad any more” circumstances or habits.