The Change House; Which room are you in?
Change seems to be a constant. Whether we realise it or not, we are always in some stage of a change cycle, big or small.
Personal growth is an ever-lasting process, an ongoing journey of development, which means that change, renewal and reinvention of a new norm is with us all the time.
One of the better models to explain this is the Change House.
First developed in the 1970s by Claes Janssen, the Change House is a metaphor that brings the concept of change to life by using the idea of a house with several rooms. Each of the four main rooms represents a different ‘state’ we may find ourselves in.
While you're here; if you would like some help with adapting to change, we offer several virtual workshops on the topic from how to cope on a personal level to teaching managers to help their teams through times of change. You can find out more here - Managing my change.
Here is what it looks like;
Let’s take a trip through the rooms.
Room of Contentment
When life is good, we stay in the room of contentment. It is the mindset where we are content with what we have and how our life is progressing. This can be in a big picture mindset or smaller such as specifics like work, or relationships, or life situations.
Sometimes, we are so content, we move out onto the ‘Sun Lounge’ of contentment. This indicates an even more relaxed mindset as we bask in the sunshine of our perfect world.
This is when change happens.
Something happens to disrupt this contentment and thus move us into the…
Room of Denial
This room is when change first occurs and we initially believe that it won’t affect us or doesn’t apply to us. We fail to see the potential threat to our norm and instead continue to believe that everything is okay or that the change will eventually ‘blow over’.
This denial is chiefly focused around the impact it will have upon us specifically, rather than a denial that the change is happening at all. It is our world we are worried about, so we deny the idea of change affecting it, in order to protect that state of existence.
At the extreme end of this scale is the ‘Dungeon of Denial’. Sometimes, we can get stuck in our denial and we end up in this lower room by burying our heads in the sand and adopting an ‘ostrich’ mindset instead.
Room of Confusion
Eventually, we wake up to the situation around us; we finally realise that something is different, but we still don’t know how to respond appropriately to it.
Emotions tend to run high with anxiety or fear as we assess the situation we are in and experience a myriad of feelings associated with that.
Most of us will find ourselves doing a great deal of analysis in this room, around the correct direction to go in order to move forward, but at last, we have finally recognised that change is needed and must be embraced.
However, like the Room of Denial, the Room of Confusion also has a dungeon; aptly name the ‘Pit of Paralysis’.
We go to this room when there is simply too much to consider; we become overwhelmed with the options of how to respond to change and end up doing nothing. We are paralysed by our own uncertainty and confusion of the best way to move forward.
Wrong Direction Door
Alternatively, we can also end up going through the ‘Wrong Direction Door’ out of the Room of Confusion. This is when we believe we have found the correct response to the change and move forwards, only to choose the wrong direction to do so.
For example, Blockbusters were in the Room of Confusion; the world was changing, people were starting to go online for their films and streaming services becoming steadily more popular. They believed that staying on the high street was the correct way to go, that the idea of online services would not catch on.
This may be a good example of going through the Wrong Direction Door.
What they should have done is to correctly see where the world was heading and make their decision based on that.
Instead, they decided to continue in the way that was familiar to them and thus ended up failing.
In the end, no matter how much time we spend in the Room of Confusion or its side rooms, we need to eventually end up in the…
Room of Renewal
This is where we have ultimately made up our minds; we form a plan and a new way forward, and we feel empowered or invigorated to move on.
We create energy for the new way, putting a greater emphasis on creativity and support, helping others who are going through the same change to adapt and find their own new normal.
This sharing of feelings, thoughts and experiences encourages conscious engagement to the change, so it can be seen as increasingly positive rather than negative.
This is a never ending cycle. Once we have settled again, we will find ourselves back in the Room of Contentment and thus the cycle will start all over again once the next change arrives.
We must always be prepared for the changes ahead of us, so that we may continue to move forward, and the Change House model helps us to understand where we are, what the challenges are and how to deal with them in order to move forward onto the next stage of our journey.
What changes are you going through right now? Can you now identify which room of the change house you are in?