How a Japanese Principle of Change Can Help Improve Our WellbeingJan 27, 2022
Change is a fabulous thing.
Without it, nothing would be possible.
The world would not turn.
Change implies movement toward a goal, an idealized state, or a vision of direction or experience of what could be. What frequently leads men to therapy is the innate desire for change. He recognizes a problem, and he seeks an alternative experience.
Change is a departure from present conditions, beliefs, or attitudes. We can describe change as a general transition of something or phase to another state condition. Change is also the perpetual, never-ending process of readjustment and readaptation as we respond to our circumstances.
As a foundational principle, all change is action.
Sometimes action is deliberate and unmistakable. Other times action is organic and invisible.
Sometimes we are the authors of change and can anticipate, prepare, and even look forward to it. Other times, change is unwelcomed and completely unexpected.
How we evoke change is often a misconstrued, misunderstood process. We seek change, and we dive right on in. Yet, something happens along the way, and we come to a grinding halt.
Change can be challenging
The current and misguided construct for change is to "just change what you don't like." But unfortunately, that doesn't consider our values, beliefs, personal ethics, emotions, habits (which can be very strong), so-called 'personal baggage' - i.e., our various unpleasant experiences and environment - which can sometimes all work for or against us.
The proverbial stop-start of change can lead many men, who initially had great expectations, to feel unempowered and inadequate when they fail to create enduring change.
It would help if you also considered that life is not stagnant - you are not the same person you were yesterday, last month, and last year because your experiences are continually shaping you.
Blokes who have learned resilience can usually acclimate better to change, while those who haven't can quickly feel overwhelmed and incapacitated by even the most minor changes. That's frustrating if you fall into the latter group while all your friends seem to be getting on just fine.
Resistance is a normal reaction to change
It's perfectly normal to want to resist something that has a psychological impact and the potential to rock us from our comfort zone. However, if we are to embrace or recover from change (whether welcome or unwelcome), we must accept our reality - however painful - and let go of what was supposed to be.
We cannot move forward until we accept our present situation. It's a lot like grief – we must go through it, not around it – because eventually, it will catch up with us.
So, although the initial change may be out of your control, ask yourself, "What can I honestly control?" Sometimes, removing our outdated expectations can help us with our current situation.
The Tactic of Incremental Change
A tactic that can lead to lasting change is the idea of improving ourselves, not in big doses, but in small steps.
Research into human change management practices states that incremental change is far more effective than attempting to dive into a pursuit all gung-ho.
We can become successful at change by implementing incremental growth into our lives. According to research and various schools of therapeutic thought, change is sometimes best established when we adopt small, positive, and measurable actions over a given period.
This incremental change is the foundation of Kaizen, a Japanese philosophy for creating mental resilience, flexibility, and adaptability. But, more importantly, it recognizes that the personal improvement journey is never quite complete.
Naturally, seeing the big picture of change can be overwhelming. However, the reality is that we only have to live one day at a time.
Whereas profound change can be slow, frustrating, and full of disappointments and setbacks, Kaizen breaks down the journey into small actions called 1% incremental achievements – because 100 continuous achievements still add up to 100%. Slow and steady wins the race, brother.
Moving forward, let's consider letting go of the ineffective, often self-destructive, quick fix notion and adopt an alternative mindset that change is a lifelong goal. But, first, dismantle your current plan into small action steps and remain committed to these steps until they become ingrained as a habit.
Then, measure and track your achievements and celebrate your successes along the way. Committing to continuous growth and improvement will provide you with unlimited motivation to achieve your goals.
Simon G. Niblock, MA, LMFT, is a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in men’s mental health and wellness. He provides tailored psychotherapy services and online programs for men and is the author of the Anxiety Workbook for Men, Evidence-based Exercises to Manage Anxiety, Depression, and Worry.
Important Notice: The content in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace direct professional mental health, medical treatment, or professional care in any way. Seek the support of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider to diagnose and treat any mental health concern directly. Contact 911 or your local emergency services number if you are experiencing a mental health emergency.
Sandford, Kathryn (November 2019). How Continuous Improvement Can Enhance Your Personal Life. Accessed: https://www.lifehack.org/788823/continuous-improvement
Smith, Kathleen, Ph.D., LPC (July 2019). The Psychology of Dealing with Change: How to Become Resilient. Accessed: https://www.psycom.net/dealing-with-change
Taylor, Jim, Ph.D. (January 2012). Personal Growth: Four Obstacles to Positive Life Change. Accessed: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201201/personal-growth-four-obstacles-positive-life-change
Kunst, Jennifer, Ph.D. (September 2011). There's Only One Way to Change: Slowly Over Time. Accessed: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/headshrinkers-guide-the-galaxy/201109/theres-only-one-way-change-slowly-over-time