Dealing with Resistance to Change – Who moved my Cheese?

Dealing with Resistance to Change – Who moved my Cheese?


You can also listen to this article on my podcast – The Qamar Nomani Show from your favourite podcast app.

 How do you feel about change? Are you ready to try new things or like majority of us, you also find yourself resisting change? Why do human resist change? Is adaptability a key to successful life?

 Are you struggling to move into next level of your career? or are you in denial state in your current relationship!

 Resistance towards changes has huge dimension. We are mostly interested in understanding the need of change within humans behaviour, habits and its possible outcome. we are not covering the resistance to political change, religious reform or a change at the organization level in this episode.

Changes are evident and some of them are unavoidable too, what makes the difference is – **To** understand **How** you react to the change!

Also I am going to talk about a book, called WHO MOVED MY CHEESE? and why you should also read this book. The tiny change that you need to make every day to transform yourself from Who you are to Who you want to Be! And if you don’t know or you don’t bother yet as who you want to be, then there certainly are some uncomfortable questions to wake you up!

Understanding change

Change is basically, anything and everything that happens to make shift from what you are doing as per part of daily routine or habit. It could be habit, or a part of process you follow to achieve some task in the job. Everyone knows that not all change is good or even necessary. But in a world that is constantly changing, it is our advantage to learn how to adapt and enjoy something better.

Example of Some changes can be –

  • Transfer from jobs/ Loss of jobs
  • Changes from one college/school to another
  • Life loss of someone very dear to you
  • Divorce/Separation/or Break-ups
  • Major Organizational Changes due to which your daily roles and responsibilities are different now
  • Sometime it could be as simple as Changing from basic phone to smart phone. You must be thinking, how could this be challenging, who does not want to use smartphone. Try convincing some elderly!
  • Changing habits – specially bad ones – like smoking/drinking etcetera.

If we look at the changes closely some of them are unavoidable, some can be resisted but avoidable and some change will not happen till you get up and decide yourself. They say Change is the only constant in the universe.

We are going through some unavoidable change which has shaken the world, too COVID 19. Actual data says around 600 thousand people have lost their life however actual data must be much more than that. Imagine the loss of lives! Thinks about those who are alive but have lost their businesses, jobs and many more. Even if this does not happen, there are some changes which you cant do anything about- Like human life cycle. No matter what you do or don’t do, you are on constant ticking time machine which go from your childhood, to youth to the elder stage, followed by unavoidable death.

Before we further dig down on this topic, and understand causes , effects and outcomes. I want to tell you one story! Yes, story is from a book named – Who moved my cheese? Written by best selling Author Dr SPENCER JOHNSON. WHO moved my cheese is a remarkable book, which is sold over more than 30 millions copies around the globe.

This book features four characters: two mice, “Sniff” and “Scurry,” and two Littlepeople, human metaphor, “Hem” and “Haw.” .The names of the Littlepeople are taken from the phrase “hem and haw,” a term for indecisiveness.

Its a story about change that take place in a Maze where these four characters look for cheese. Cheese being metaphor for what we want to have in life, whether it is a job, a relationship, money, a big house, freedom, health, recognition, spiritual peace or even an activity like jogging, running or making a podcast!

Each of us has our own idea of what Cheese is, and we pursue it because we be believe it makes us happy. If we get it, we often become attached to it. And if we lose it, or it’s taken away, it can be traumatic.

The Maze – in the story represents where you spend time looking for what you want. It can be organization you work in, the community you live in, or the relationship you have in your life. Now since you have the background of the story , lets get to the story straightaway—

Who Moved my cheese? The Story

Log time ago, there lived these two mice – Sniff and Scurry and two little people as small as mice but looked and acted like human today – named Hem and Haw, all looking for cheese to nourish them and make them happy.

Initially without cheese, each group, the mice and humans, paired off and travelled the lengthy corridors searching for cheese. One day both groups happen upon a cheese-filled corridor at “Cheese Station C.” Content with their find, the humans establish routines around their daily intake of cheese, slowly becoming arrogant in the process.

One day Sniff and Scurry arrive at “Cheese Station C” to find no cheese left, but they are not surprised. Noticing the cheese supply gradually diminishing, they have mentally prepared beforehand for the obvious but inevitable task of finding more cheese.

Leaving “Cheese Station C” behind,they begin their hunt for new cheese together. Later that day, Hem and Haw arrive at Cheese Station C only to find the same thing, no cheese. Angered and annoyed, Hem demands, “Who moved my cheese?” The humans have counted on the cheese supply to be constant, and so are unprepared for this eventuality. After deciding that the cheese is indeed gone, they get angry at the unfairness of the situation. Haw suggests a search for new cheese, but Hem is dead-set in his disappointment and dismisses the proposal.

Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry have found “Cheese Station N,” and new cheese. But back at Cheese Station C, Hem and Haw are affected by their lack of cheese and blame each other for their problem. Hoping to change, Haw again proposes a search for new cheese. However, Hem is comforted by his old routine and is frightened about the unknown. He knocks the idea again. After a while of being in denial, the humans remain without cheese. One day, having discovered his debilitating fears, Haw begins to chuckle at the situation and stops taking himself so seriously.

Realizing he should simply move on, Haw enters the maze, but not before chiselling “If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct” on the wall of Cheese Station C for his friend to ponder.

Uncompromising, Hem refuses the new cheese, to his friend’s disappointment. With knowledge learned along the way, Haw heads back into the maze. Getting deeper into the maze, inspired by bits of new cheese here and there, Haw leaves a trail of writings on the wall. These clarify his own thinking and give him hope that his friend will find aid in them during his search for new cheese. Still traveling, Haw one day comes across Cheese Station N, abundant with cheese, including some varieties that are strange to him, and he realizes he has found what he was looking for. After eating, Haw reflects on his experience. He ponders a return to see his old friend. But Haw decides to let Hem find his own way. Finding the largest wall in Cheese Station N, He writes few lines which he learnt during his journey. That conclude the story. Listen along to learn what Haw wrote on the cheese wall.

What HAW wrote on the wall for his friend which we all should learn from

# 1Having Cheese Makes you happy! – Remember Cheese is metaphor for what you want in your life. When you have your cheese, you are happy! Also until find your cheese , you keep on moving and once you get it, you build your life around it and some time you become arrogant as if you have gotten your cheese forever and no one is gonna take your cheese from you!

# 2 The More Important your Cheese is to you , the more strongly you want to hold on to it.

This is where the problem starts to arise in some cases. your cheese sometime behaves like sand, the harder you hold the more you lose control of it.

#3 If you do not change, You may become extinct –

Nothing is this world is permanent. Even dead body is not constant as it starts decaying the moment it does not have life in it. Adaptability is key to survive. We all know what happened to Dinosaur. You need to constant work on yourselves and evolve day in and day out in order to stay relevant.

#4 – What would you do, if you weren’t afraid?

Sometimes some fear can be good. When you are afraid things are going to get worse if you dont do something, it can prompt you into action. But it is not good when you are so afraid that it keeps away from doing anything. It’s also not realistic to just ignore fear. That won’t make it go away. We have to learn to deal with it. As we human with our complex brain, sometime make things more complex. Acknowledging the fear may be first step forward. Even in in same set of circumstances, Our actions are completely different when we are afraid and when we are not.

A mental shift is required from being afraid to being in compassion of finding your reason for change. This is altogether a huge topic, and i may speak about fear in details in some other episode may be!

#5 Smell the cheese often So you know When it is getting old

Knowing what’s going around, understanding small changes are important. Some relationship are dead way before than the actual break-ups/separation or divorce takes place. Staying alert always helps, because once you are alert you you trust your basic instinct to sense when change was going to occur and be ready to adapt to it.

#6 Movement in a new direction helps you getting new cheese

Sometime we get paralyzed by our own fears, Most of the time we are not sure what we are afraid of but this fear certainly weakens the condition. However if we decide to move, We have nothing to lose but it definitely increases the probability of getting another cheese station!

# 7 When you stop being afraid you feel good

Moving into new direction may seem dangerous and tough to pursue. We begin to imagine all kinds of frightening things that could happen to us. But this happens only till we are afraid and the moment we decide not to afraid of situations, even if we haven’t made our way to the next cheese stations we feel good about the situations AND YOU START ENJOYING THE JOURNEY!. That’s the mental shift. Once we start running in to the dark corridor, we begin to smile. We don’t realize it yet but we have discovered what nourish our soul.

# 8 Imaging yourself enjoying the new cheese, leads you to do it.

When we lose our favourite cheese, we are held captive by our own fear. Moving into new direction makes us free. we become so much habitual of our cheese that we almost forget how much fun it was to start looking for new cheese in start! But once you are out of fear and have already started feeling good about discovering the NEW YOU! You start painting a picture with infinite details in your mind. You start enjoying the imagination of getting your new cheese. The more clearly you see the image of yourself enjoying the new cheese, the more real and believable it become.

# 9 The Quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese

Once you start imagining yourself with new cheese, your focus changes from what you could lose to what you can gain. Why do we think that change would always lead to something worse! And in the pursuit of new cheese, you realize that The Quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.

# 10 It is safer to search in the maze, than to remain in cheese less situation

मंजिल मिल ही जायेगी भटकते ही सही, गुमराह तो वो है जो घर से निकले ही नहीं!

If you dont do anything about your current situation , nothing is gonna happen! The fear we let build up in our mind is worse than the actual situation. SO its better to get up and look for your cheese than sitting idle and drowning yourself into negativity. ONCE you have nothing to lose! THEN the only thing you can do is to look for another cheese!

# 11 Old belief do not lead you to new cheese

As Albert Einstein said once – you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

Once you realize that it is natural for change to occur, whether we expect it or not. Change could surprise only if we do not expect it. But once we accept the fact , we adapt ourselves to a new belief system which encourages us to new behaviour.

Learning to laugh at what you have been doing wrong is acceptance of reality and result of coming out of denial stage. The fastest way to change is to laugh at our own mistakes — And then we can let go and quickly move on!

#12 When you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you change the course

Once we change what we believe , we also change what we do and eventually get the new cheese! In fact if we we get to new cheese even sooner than if we anticipate the change, do not waste our time in denial of change. As soon as you get to the new cheese, you regain your strength and confidence!

Conclusion or rather some questions to ponder!

Haw wrote all his learnings on the cheese wall so that his friend could get help and may come out of denial and make his life better! What do you think what happened to Hem? Till the end of this book, we never heard HEM coming out of denial.

Did he ever come out or succumb? may be or May be not!

Who are you in this story? Well, Let me ask differently! As we all behave differently into different stage of life and situation! What all characters have you played in the different situations?

How are you behaving in your current situations! Are you behaving like Haw or Hem? Or May be you are Haw in one situation and Hem in another.

For me? If i dig back, I was acting as Haw in my professional life however at the same time I was BIG HEM in my previous relationship!

Have you ever been acted as Hem? or Haw?

I realize I’m offering more questions than answers, but I’m learning that might be the point. Sometimes, we have to change the question to get more clarity about the answer.

So lemme ask you this – In your current situation you are going through, be it job, studies or relationship!

What would you do if you are not afraid? Give it a thought!

I wish you a to be HAW in every situation, clarity of thoughts and much happiness. Until next episode, signing off! 

– Qamar Nomani

Qamar Nomani

I'm a cloud security architect working for an MNC in India. I spend my evenings writing articles about tech, productivity, and entrepreneurship, recording my podcast "The Qamar Nomani Show", and making YouTube videos.

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