- If a change in something is desired, the potential change can be viewed in two aspects: an aspect that needs to be diminished or eliminated, and an aspect that needs to be strengthened or created. Both of these can usually be identified for any particular change.
(Examples: If I want to get in shape, then I want to lose fat and gain muscle. If I want to read more, then I need to increase the amount of reading I do, and I need to decrease the amount that I do non-reading things in order to make time. If I am neurotic and want to get well, I need to increase the amount of sane behavior I express, and decrease the amount of insane behavior I express. etc.)
- Accordingly, there are two ways to make a change. One way is to attack the aspect that needs to be diminished; the other way is to build on or enhance the aspect that needs strengthening. Either of these strategies may be used, alone or together.
(Example: I might approach weight loss by restricting calories but keeping physical activity the same, or by keeping my diet the same and starting to work out, or by doing both.)
- The most effective and safest way to make change is by focusing on the aspects that need strengthening, and allowing the unwanted aspects to atrophy and wane from neglect. The increased focus on the desired aspects decreases the attention and the space available to the unwanted aspects, and so the unwanted aspects will suffer increasing displacement and starvation.
- The least effective and most dangerous way to make change is by trying to directly attack or destroy the problematic aspects. This is because devoting attention to what is unwanted, even hostile attention, only provokes it and strengthens it to fight defensively for its survival. Furthermore, the the attention and energy spent on this struggle is not available for developing the desired aspect of the change.
want to mention
- immune system, overuse of antibiotics (Use too many antibiotics, the bacteria develop resistance. Isolate yourself too much, your immune system gets weak. Focus on keeping your energy up and so forth, you stay healthy.)
- behavioral modification by reinforcing good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior (and the research that shows that punishing bad behavior actually tends to entrench it)
- when developing software, throwing away code (even code that is made obsolete or that is buggy) is almost always a bad idea. It can often be put aside and used for something else.
- any given decision maker at any particular time is not guaranteed to make the best decision for the long-term good, so if that decision is implemented via attacking the undesired elements, and if success is achieved at damaging them, and if later the concensus changes to the opposite conclusion, then there is actual damage to repair rather than just atrophy/decay to recover from.