Systemic change is the need of the hour

Only Systemic Change in our body-mind systems can help us survive as individuals and as a nation, says Minnu Bhonsle

man on street leaning on a mirror

As I analyse the series of events leading up to, and beyond, the terror attacks in Mumbai, one fact becomes amply clear to me—there is a need for a major philosophical restructuring of the mindset of every Indian. Whether it is the politicians, the bureaucrats, the intelligence services and law enforcement personnel, media, businessmen, or the average citizen of India, our thinking needs to change.

The comfort zone culture

This major philosophical shift needs to come by getting:

  • Out of our comfort zones
  • Out of a culture of physical and psychological laziness
  • Out of the need for short-term gain at the cost of long-term pain,
  • Out of the need for instant gratification
  • Out of the need for personal profit over public welfare
  • Out of the warped belief that we are ‘special’ and therefore exceptions to the inconveniences and challenges of life

Out of the ‘spoilt brat’ syndrome—the thinking that our welfare is the responsibility of everyone except us.
We need to get out of the ‘culture of comfort zones’ and do it now. Only Systemic Change in our body-mind systems can help us survive as individuals and as a nation.
Keep your own house under lock and key, my aunt had once commented on a burglary next door—shed your laziness. Be alert, aware and responsible for the safety of your home as much as possible. Learn better ways to plug loopholes for the future, instead of wasting time blaming the burglar.

This simple philosophy has governed every aspect of my life. Simply put, ‘Do your very best, then leave the rest’. Unfortunately, the culture visible across our society is: ‘Get your rest, and forget your best’.
It is time for us to examine our own attitudes and behaviours. We need to identify self-sabotaging behaviours and replace them with attitudes and behaviours that are life enhancing.

Systemic Change thinking

At the core of the comfort culture are some unhelpful thinking styles. We need to replace them with Systemic Change thinking styles.

Comfort thinking: I should be physically and psychologically comfortable and without inconvenience at all times. I should be able to ensure my wellbeing without any exertion on my part.
Systemic Change thinking: There is seldom gain without pain, and I am no exception to that. I can tolerate discomfort for my own sustainable wellbeing, even though I do not particularly like the inconvenience today.

Comfort thinking: It’s easier to avoid life’s difficulties than to face them.
Systemic Change thinking: The so-called easy way is invariably the harder way in the long-run.

Comfort thinking: I should not have to look after myself. I must have someone stronger than myself to rely on for my survival and wellbeing.
Systemic Change thinking: Assistance and collaboration is okay, as long as it does not make me too dependent, and/or discourages self-reliance.

Comfort thinking leads to irresponsible living like addiction, behavioural excess, procrastination, immature whining and complaining against rules. It prevents people from achieving their long-range survival goals. They can’t bear the discomfort of engaging in a goal-oriented task. The notion that I must be comfortable at all times is obviously self-defeating.

It also discourages the use of one’s own personal resources, breeds laziness and ‘avoidance of responsibility’, and a regression into an infantile state of excessive reliance on external sources for survival and wellbeing.
As a culture, it is therefore important to work for ‘systemic change’ of increasing the tolerance for immediate discomfort for long-term sustainable well-being of self and others.

Minnu Bhonsle
Dr Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, is a Mumbai-based consulting psychotherapist and counsellor. She conducts training programmes in Personal Counselling [Client-centred Therapy] and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, and also workshops in Stress Management, Art of Listening, Couple Therapy, and Communication Skills. Minnu has co-authored the book, The Ultimate Sex Education Guide along with Dr Rajan Bhonsle.


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