As an elementary school student I learned about dinosaurs that inhabited the earth some 200 million years ago. I remember wondering, “Why had they disappeared from the planet so long ago?” According to my teacher, their problem was adaptation. Their inability to adapt to the changing environment sealed their fate.
It wasn’t until many years later that I realized what a profound lesson the dinosaurs had taught. In my last blog I mentioned that adaptation is the key to handling the stress of Life’s inevitable changes. Our capacity to adapt to change directly determines our success, not only in survival, but in the ability to thrive.
There are essentially two steps to adaptation. The first step is becoming aware of the need for change. The second step is to implement the needed change. Throughout the day we are continually afforded opportunities to make changes based on our perception of the environment. For example, if we are cold we may choose to put on a sweater, or if we’re driving toward a pot hole we could choose to steer around and miss it. But adaptation isn’t always as easy as these two simple examples.
There are three basic barriers to adaptation.
The first barrier is lack of awareness. It can come in the form of absent or incorrect information. If we didn’t know we had specific food sensitivities then we wouldn’t know which foods to eliminate from our diet. Many times patients come to the Center already armed with incorrect information about proper dietary choices. Low fat food and diet drinks are perfect examples.
The second barrier to adaptation is a lack of resources. I may be cold but if I don’t have a sweater then I’m out of luck and unable to adapt.
The third barrier to adaptation is the inability to take the action needed to accomplish the desired change. Fear, addiction or uncertainties are usually the main culprits. We may see the pot hole yet convince ourselves that we’re not able to turn the wheel. Even though we’re aware, we can’t seem to take the action to initiate change.
Tune in next time and we’ll discuss strategies for overcoming the barriers to adaptation.