why some people resist change

A poignant narrative is embedded within Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song, “The Shelter Of Storms.” I speculate that she writes of a character who resists change; so much, in fact, that he runs towards the “storm” — the pain of it all.

You always had the gift of speed;

You’d disappear without a trace.

It all depended on the need,

And on the pain you could not face.


All the years and all the miles,

They lost track of time.

I look back now only once in awhile;

My memory just wants to blur the lines.


I greet the sun, and find it strange

To watch you run

For the shelter of storms

Sometimes, people become comfortably situated in misery; they don’t seek a way out or pine for the light at the end of a tunnel because it’s unfamiliar territory. Change is hard. It forces you to deal with challenges and confront the harsh realities of life. Perhaps it’s simply easier to live in the habitual, a routine that may be unpleasant but recognizable, a go-to default mode that’s already been established.

(In terms of being “comfortable,” I admit that I was once accustomed to experiencing particular feelings as well.)

Psychotherapist Katherine Schafler writes on this subject in her blog post, “Top Three Reasons Why Some People Never Change.”

“It’s exponentially easier to create an identity around the things that have happened to us (i.e. the external) instead of out of the core part of who we are,” she said. “We lose touch with the vast possibilities within us because we’re so used to our little story.”

She also speaks to the notion of reaping in the comfort of what’s familiar.

“If you’re used to feeling that people disappoint you, that you’re unhealthy, that you’re unattractive, that you’re not smart or that you’re always broke, then you know how to feel those things.  You know exactly what the feeling is like, and though it may not be a desirable feeling, it’s highly predictable. Letting go of what’s familiar to you is like transplanting yourself in a new land where you don’t speak the language.”

You may be unsure of what the change will entail, on how to navigate what’s different. You may feel intimidated without a “safety blanket,” so to speak; you may even fear failure.

Go back the years, subtract the miles,

And see what’s left for you to find

All the battles, all the trials,

You can’t be free till you leave behind

Your bitter heart, but you can’t change;

You curse the sun, and pray for rain,

You always run

For the shelter of storms

I believe Carpenter captures the essence of why some find it difficult to change. While the potential for growth is present, not everyone makes the leap; not everyone wants to embrace an alternative route.

Change isn’t easy. You must navigate unfamiliar territory, shed aspects of an old “identity,” and maneuver your way through the unknown.

Storm photo available from Shutterstock