In the previous post, I addressed the question—why don’t we change? And I urged you to meditate on this question. I deliberately refrained from answering the reasons there. In this post, I will delineate the reasons behind our failures in changing ourselves. Hope, these will correlate with you.
What Is Change?
Well, first of all, let’s be clear about what we mean by ‘change’. When we talk about self-improvement or self-transformation, we want to mean that we have to change our being, not only our personality or behaviour. We are largely compulsive, and we live out our lives under many illusions. Change, in this respect, means to grow out of our illusions and be mature as a life—physically, mentally, spiritually—in every way. So, if that is our goal, we have to change and refine many aspects of our being.
The problem is—we don’t change. We find it very difficult to change ourselves. Even simple aspects of our personality—like anger management or stress management—are very challenging to us. Growing spiritually is a different level of ball game altogether! But, unless we change ourselves, we can neither do any good to ourselves, nor to others. If at all we have to do anything for this world, first we have to transform ourselves.
Well, although everybody is unique in their personality, our plight as humans is not. As an attempt to answer the question—why we don’t change—I’ve formulated the following reasons which may or may not resonate with your understanding. Nonetheless, I request you to capture their essence.
1. Lack Of Essential Perception:
We don’t know ourselves at the root of our hearts. We lack self-perception. We don’t know what drives us, influences us, and shapes us from inside. If we knew what happens inside our very being, we would fundamentally change.
Essential perception is that perception in which the essence of our nature is revealed. The more we perceive the reality of who we are, the greater the level of transformation that transpires.
2. The Habit Barrier:
Our habits are the greatest barrier in our transformation. We all are creatures of habit. Habits are simply patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving, which over a period of time, get embedded in our whole makeup. Our body, mind, and even consciousness is conditioned by many unconscious and subconscious patterns.
These habits act as barriers which create resistance to change. We all know this as a ‘comfort zone’. Whenever we do something which is outside of our comfort zone, we feel repulsive towards that. And this manifests as procrastination or aversion. Unless we break free from our habitual patterns, we’ll keep falling from our heights. Habits are very hard to change. Only willpower is not enough to bring about change in habits. Think of them like a huge elephant, who’s bent on not moving. No matter how much you try to goad it with your willpower, that’s like using a stick to move the elephant! You can imagine the hopelessness there!
To change our strongly-established habits, we have to work on ourselves. More than hard work, it’s consistency that’ll get you the results. No matter how little you try, be consistent in your efforts—slowly you’ll have the necessary strength to reshape your habits for food.
3. Failing To Learn:
Failing to learn is one of the major reasons why we don’t change. See, change happens only when we learn. Learning, by its very definition, suggests change. So, when we keep repeating the same mistakes and keep doing the same things, you should ask yourself: Am I learning from my experiences?
4. The Power Of 3 D’s:
We need to inculcate the power of 3 D’s in our lives—determination, dedication and discipline. Whatever we want to achieve in life, we need these three qualities.
To be determined means to set our mind and heart to do something. Once we’re determined, we have to be dedicated to our efforts. That means, we have to give our time, energy and thought. And lastly— but what is equally important—we have to be disciplined in our efforts. That is, it’s not just for one day, or two days, but as long as it requires, one needs to be consistent in his or her endeavours. That is really the process of getting success in life.
Even Maharshi Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras says:
“sa tu dirghakal-nairantarya-satkarah-sebito dridRa-bhumi” [1.14]
Enhancing perception is the only way to transform ourselves. For that, we have to go beyond our boundaries (habits) and refine ourselves as much as possible. With a determined, dedicated and disciplined approach, we can reshape ourselves into shining human beings.