Anxiety is caused by two primary fears acting together: the fear of the loss of that which we feel supports our highest values, and the gain of that which we feel challenges our highest values.
In this case, ‘values’ refers to whatever is most important to us, the people, places, things, or material objects we hold dear, rather than the morals we aspire to.
In the Neanderthal days, these fears would possibly have pertained to the sudden absence of food (supporting our need for sustenance) or the appearance of predators posing a threat to our safety.
We may have become vastly more sophisticated, but these impulses and instincts are still deeply embedded in our natures; thus, when we encounter something that has the potential to upset our existing balance, by introducing an element we may not like, our response is often to put up a wall, protect and avoid.
Related: 7 Fears That Immobilise Leaders
Adapting to change
Although this might be understandable, it’s not always solely helpful. Stress is often caused by the inability to adapt to a changing environment. And yet, the environment around us is always changing.
New technologies are introduced, the regulations governing our industries are altered and consumer demands evolve. If we’re not able to keep up with these developments, we will be left behind.
How to become more resilient
It seems, then, that the answer to feeling more comfortable around change lies in developing resilience. The key lies in looking at the things you value most and love. Everyone lives by a set of priorities or values which is unique to them.
That’s important, because it is when you are living in alignment and accordance with your highest value and feeling fulfilled that you are most adaptable and resilient to change. Consider this example: perhaps one of your highest values is financial security, so that you can provide the best education for your children and ensure their sound future.
If this is the case, you’ll view the extra hours that come with having a senior position as a means to an end and you’ll be more adaptable. If, on the other hand, it’s more important for you to spend time with your loved ones, you will probably resent long hours at the office.
Engaging employees during times of change
People who are not engaged and inspired in the workplace are more vulnerable to deeply polarised perceptions – a stronger and impulsive drive to seek out pleasure or avoid pain. The less fulfilled they feel, the more polarised and animal like they become. This obviously affects their productivity.
The question facing managers therefore isn’t about how to make employees feel more comfortable about change. It’s actually about finding ways to engage them and make them more resilient.
The way to do this is by looking at their job descriptions, and asking them how the individual job duties in their role will help to fulfil them and allow them to live according to their highest values.
Remember that the more a person’s job contributes to their highest values, the more willing they will be to try new things, because they can see how it will help them fulfil what is most important to them.
It will also be helpful if you eschew the role of the autocrat. Managers who simply impose change may find their employees are less open to new developments than those take the time to hold discussions with their team, finding out what their highest values are so they can show them how the organisation’s new, more evolved approach will enable them to fulfil what is important to them.
This speaks to another truth – that it’s not what happens to you that has the greatest impact on your life; but your perception of those events.
Another reason that managers who take the time to understand and communicate in their employees’ higher values will meet with a warmer welcome: people are more likely to help you get what you want (in this case, compliance), when you help them get what they want (which, for the employee, is fulfilment of what is most important to them – their highest values).
The necessity of change
Although it may seem daunting, change is in fact an essential thing. It keeps you young. The fact is that we experience the most significant changes in our lives – from the physical effects of puberty to making new friends as we switch school classes, from getting married to having children – during our early years. It follows, therefore, that if you continue to experience change as an adult, you’ll be able to maintain a malleable mindset.
Change is also the key to preventing feelings of boredom and stagnation. Challenges help us grow. Of course, you’ll grow even more if you receive adequate support while facing those challenges.
Life is all about balance, so if you can keep in mind that there are downsides to the things that you feel support you, and upsides to those that you feel don’t, you’ll be well on your way to being more poised, resilient, fulfilled and high achieving.
For more of Dr Demartini’s teaching, visit www.drdemartini.com