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Recent blog and internet discussion, and our practical living lab exercises of AiREAS in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, got us again going about the overall complexity of the “psychology of change”.
On the one hand there are the impressive challenges of a global shift, a true transformation of society to save our selves, demanding tremendous changes. On the other there is the powerful resistance and dominance of the world’s institutionalized economics that produces many powerful lobbies to avoid change all together. The latter brings a certain material wealth to the world and to the financial mighty. I already wrote various blog items on it but the complexity of “change” seems an endless and highly repetitive topic. Why? Because it affects us intensely on all levels of society.
The need for change has to do with ethics, sustainable human progress, in-dependencies, our environment and basic human rights, as opposed to nothing of that, expressed through individual and institutional power positions. It also has to do with awareness, responsibility, dominance, different paradigms and massive manipulation as part of the huge human complexities. Both sides of the problem, the desire and the avoidance of change, are firmly established inside the kernel of our individual and collective consciousness, self reflection, evolution and the ethical structuring of our choices. Despite everything there is always a dominant situation of overall avoidance of change.
Manipulation may sound unethical to you but we are being manipulated all the time. Not just through conscious manipulation of powerful institutions but also by the way we perceive our own selves in general. We react primarily to our surroundings using multiple sensory and extra sensory impulses. The way we perceive is the way we react. Within this simple action = reaction there is the “human psychology” involving fear, worry, happiness, wellness, anger, hate, education, jealousy, etc. All this can be manipulated, even by ourselves, consciously and unconsciously. In fact, it takes an intense learning process to to become aware of one’s own behavior, perception and choices, to get more or less liberated from manipulation. We call this a part of our higher evolutionary awareness. Not many people reach that state and those who do often become manipulators themselves with a large array of motives.
While I write this blog and re-read it I realize that I myself am one of them. I have grown over time mostly free from manipulation. Now (before I did not) I can see that I am being manipulated in intention by a dominant money and consumer driven system. This produces some kind of friction between me and the old generalized system. By introducing a new paradigm (sustainocracy) I also manipulate people by showing them a different truth. Despite my desire to be ethical and transparent I do create a new environment with the intention to provide people such a sense of new security that they decide to follow my views and let go of the old paradigm.
All I try to do, which justifies my motivation and passion, is to make people aware of manipulation and help them make up their own mind, without prejudice finally about their choice, not even when they decide to turn their back to me. I see it hence as a challenge to explain myself and Sustainocracy in such a way that people start believing in it, more than the other reigning system. But isn’t that what the system of capitalist consumer economics does too? And has been doing successfully for a long time? So we both compete in the psychology of manipulation presenting two different paradigms to the people. I am of course just a beginner while the other paradigm has thousands of years of experience.
Psychology of manipulation
When it is warm we buy an ice-cream when its cold we wear a pullover. We look around us and decide what we do, need, say, move, ….almost instantly. Our impressions do not just have to do with sensory perception, they are also colored by what we think is right or wrong, just, wishful, desirable, etc. In reality we have been conditioned to instant reaction right from the moment we were born and open our eyes to see the world. Normally we see the face of one of our parents at first, or a doctor or nurse. We see lights, colors, movements …. We smell and taste things….we hear noises, sounds, melodies, voices. All these first impressions reach us without giving it yet a conscious thought, they form however the basis of the big pile of sensory impressions to come that we do reflect consciously about.
After growing up in a certain environment it becomes so familiar, our own unquestionable reality, a specific truth. Every new observation and experience is being compared with circumstances we lived through before in the past. It enhances them, builds them up, or rejects them, until you feel at home right in the middle of those impulses from outside. This helps to react instantaneously on most issues of life during the day and makes you feel familiar with the way others react too. Together we form a culture, a set of values around language, beliefs, behavior, etc, that define us as a community. It gives us a behavioral identity. This gives a sense of belonging that remains united to our local natural and human surroundings. It is important to us because we need speedy adaptation and reaction when our behavioral routine is upset in any way. It is important for our mind to be able to distinguish between the normal and abnormal and react adequately, especially when in danger.
So securities are built up by ourselves and with our cultural environment to make us feel safe within ourselves. We auto-manipulate this feeling out of risk avoidance, fear control and sense of control. This can of course be manipulated also by an organized surroundings that is based on institutionalized principles. This then becomes also a paradigm, a worldview that is conditioned by certain values. Our current ruling paradigm is the one of capitalist economics. The one that I am introducing with arguments is called “sustainocracy”.
That is psychology of manipulation, the sense of providing external security to a community of people by the internal perception of security.
Psychology of change
People are of course reluctant to change when it addresses their sense of security. Nowadays we are confronted with a lot of information on climate changes, pollution, global warming, financial crises, other crises, etc. When we read such issues in the newspapers and watch documentaries on TV we become worried. We still, however live our day to day, everyday life. We are worried about the large picture and yet do what we have always done. “What do you want me to do?” you would say, “who am I to do anything?”, you may suggest. “Let the government solve it” most of us would say. And you are probably right!
Unless your name is on the list of the G7 and G20 encounter, or something like that. Which is what tends to happen. A few hundred powerful people join in global talks but fail to talk about change because they want to keep a capitalist economy going that provides perceived security to many people including the ones in power. And 7 billion people feel too small, too insignificant, too unaware, to do anything while feeling blindly secure in their day to day living experience, expecting that the big G solve it all. Until it is too late.
So if we want to change anything we have to overcome the “psychology of fear for change”. This starts with the aspect of “negation”. This feeling is normal. To accept a responsibility we have to be aware that we actually carry one. Or that we become aware that those who we think are responsible, have good reasons for themselves to avoid change and will therefor not take that kind of responsibility.
As explained above we see our direct environment as a secure cultural nest in which we were born and grew up. If we want to change we attack our inner senses of security and that creates an intense feeling of fear and insecurity. At individual level, despite the awareness that things need to change, we have the tendency of neglecting it just out of fear of the consequences. We tend to place the responsibility elsewhere, outside our own scope. You may say that this the mentality of an ostrich yet it has a strong basis of survival. If everyone would panic upon the wisdom of need for change the chaos would even be more dangerous. Human beings need some kind of leadership to address change.
The need for change grows, the negation too
Meanwhile a growing part of those 7 billion people are being incorporated into the Western example of material wealth. They feel that they have every right, just like European and Americans have enjoyed this wealth for a long time already. They are right of course. Why would they have to step back being the newcomers on the scene while the old guys made the biggest damage? Aren’t all people in the world allowed to have a TV set, a house, a car and a well stocked supermarket around the corner? Sure!
So the biggest challenge of the global shift is to change everything without changing anything. Would it be possible to keep up and expand wellness around the world without damaging it? Many scientists and business people would see a challenge in it, many local small governments also, but national large governments and bankers seem to be more than reluctant. “You can change whatever you want as long as it gives us an economy of growth” they would claim out of self interest. What they really express is their fear for loosing power, control and a financial profit. So when we introduce the need for change we also have to seriously accept the “psychology of change” as a challenge to overcome, including the powerful.
Two ways to change
There is the universal natural way, which is the traditional chaos of destruction through war, depression, recession, poverty, etc which obliges all people to change by external, non human force. When institutions keep up their opposition and negation too long they block the flexibility and adaptiveness of a population around evolutionary change and provoke a natural collapse. The human suffering is huge and so is the institutional because it collapses. It is all expressed by violence, demanding the liability of the old leaders which are prosecuted by the laws of chaos or history books.
Then there is the voluntary way, as proposed ( and demonstrated) by Sustainocracy. When we offer the current authorities the recognition of power, also in the new paradigm, then they feel secure to support change. Fear is overcome by safety, also involving the powerful. So psychology of change has much to do with communication, not just providing means for others to change but also by being the change by providing security in following. Followers show their own leadership by making choices in which we recognize the intense process of letting go of old securities. If the new securities provide a better perspective people are much more willing to open up for change, also when they have a high level position of power.
Yes, I can
Sustainocracy builds a new society directly in a new new paradigm using the same instruments of power and authority of the old paradigm. It is interesting to see that sustainocracy offers more security to the powerful than the crumbling paradigm of consumer economics. Executives that are value (not money) driven are the very first to support the transformation, which is also becoming a transformation of securities, not just of values, economies and ethics. Now executives have a choice and when aware of their own responsibilities they can claim: “I know I can”.
Like every situation when a choice is presented between two paradigms, a new issue arises: “explain why you made your choice”. That will be subject to subject of a new blog.