We’ve changed a lot!  You hear about this complaint more often than
before. It is true that there is a serious amount of resistance against many
societal changes in addition to the complaints raised against the changes
taking place in social matters. This is particularly the case with the recent
change efforts regarding the long standing problem of our country -whether you
call it the Kurdish question or South Eastern Question- that caused the death
of many people and disintegration of families, economic losses and various
other problems, and the reaction developed against it.   The reaction thus developed has turned into
action with the discussion of “Wise people”.  It would be better to delve into the core of
such concepts as change and resistance to change.

Is
change bad? Despite the negative things it brings along, change, in essence, is
progress.  The thing that leads to bad is
called regression.  Regression does not
bring about change.  Then why are we
complaining about change?  When asked,
most people will tell you that they want to change, or at least they want to
change some of the things about themselves or their lives. When the solution to
social problems is discussed, change is yet again brought up; things that need
to change are often listed as follows: changes in the law, change in mentality,
change of point of view etc. However, although it is so desired and wished for,
adapting to change is a different process altogether. The biggest problem lies
in adapting to the changes, not in wanting or materializing them.   When people fail to cope with such
challenges, they start to complain.  As
people grow old, they have more difficulty in adapting to changes.  This is why it is mostly the old people who
complain about changes, and claim that what they know, experienced or are used
to are better than the new ones.   The
reason why the young complain about changes is to do with the fact that change
is a feared concept as much as a desired one. The individual characteristics of
people also develop reaction towards change in the similar manner.  Some people can not tolerate the time
required for getting used to the change. 
Because adaptation necessitates a lot of work in a short period of
time.  “Familiarity fuels
complacency”.  What that means is that
when people are faced with a new stimulus, their former reaction falls short of
dealing with the same situation.  And the
stress resulting from that situation is associated with the new stimulus.  Thus the person rejects the new
stimulus.  Moreover people resisting to
the new need less of the new.  And since
innovation requires being stimulated more, those who prefer to be stimulated less
may develop a resistance against innovation. 

Changes regarding the system
depend on the way of perceiving and interpreting the world on the part of those
individuals who actually create the system.  
The single most important reason for resisting to the change is the
inconsistency arising between people’s needs and the change.  If the change is incompatible with the
expectations and interests of the individual, then he/she resists the change.
Such incompatibility may be associated with the individual’s social
expectations as well as with his/her personal or economic expectations. The
second reason is the person’s fear of losing his/her power following the
change.  The fear of loss caused by
inadequate knowledge and skills creates resistance.  Apart from all that, however, change implies
uncertainty.  The familiar order and rules
are regarded as protective, whereas change is seen as frightening. 

When change is started, the fact
that an undeveloped country takes a developed country as its model is dangerous
in terms of giving rise to unrealistic expectations.  But, on the other hand, it could also be
inspiring.  When the past is left behind
and faced with an unclear future, it is often needed to have strong models and
definite circumstances.  In order to
render the change tolerable, there should be a clear cut picture between the
various phases and sections of its radical and adaptable aspects where
correlations could be established.

Change starts with the will first,
it then requires an efficient commencement and taking action. Although some
people regard change as weakness, in reality that is the exact opposite.   Because the very essence of development and
improvement is the change itself.  The
resistance that show to individual changes inhibits our own development,
improvement and solving our problems. 
Sometimes we seek help and say that we want to change, but in doing so
we are often not aware of the resistance that we show to our own change.  Such a resistance can only be evaluated and
dealt with by a professional.  Problem
grows when we include a group of people to our point of resistance.  That means we have fears beyond the change to
which we are opposed.  When an individual
comes to prominence more than others in the change process, others tend to make
the mistake of either excessively believing or being suspicious of them.  If people resisting to change are hiding
their true intentions, then it results in a disconcerting effect.  Moreover if such social interaction is
presented as a dispute of practical and ideological concepts and is based on
groundless resistance or emotional or hostile impulses, then the value of
change may be lessened. Such a resistance could turn into a resistance that not
only harms the individual or the group that he/she is affiliated with, but the
society as a whole.     Being informed of
the change process in every step of the way could reduce the level of
resistance. Being informed about change is maintained through communication in
the case of those who will be affected from change but have no clue as to the
contents of such change.   The task of
communication techniques is to go far and wide as much as possible and solve
disputes, and thereby creating more compatible systems.  But despite all that they can not delve into
the core of the dispute itself.  The only
way to reduce resistance at this point is to reach out to those who build their
resistance on groundless, emotional or hostile impulses and make them face the
essence of their resistance. 

As is the case with the world,
there are changes taking place in very significant matters in Turkey.   Resistance is expected where the change
takes place. Instead of being angry with those who resist change, sharing the
change and its underlying reasons and the process itself with society by those
advocating the change and trying to understand their needs, concerns and fears
will be the most significant step forward in reducing resistance and
maintaining adaptation.

 

Prof. Bengi
Semerci, M.D.

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