I’ve often wondered what makes it so hard to change, whether it’s a habit, a way of being, a thought process, self-sabotage, a job, or any other aspect of your life that isn’t nourishing you.
What I’ve discovered is that there’s no one size fits all answer to this question but that there are some common themes. While the reasons may seem daunting, having an awareness of why we are stuck in old habits and self-sabotage may be helpful. For me, it allowed me to be kinder to myself rather than berating myself for being stuck. This was a good first step.
Here are some of the obstacles to change:
We are more comfortable with the known than we are with the unknown
There’s a very old Irish proverb that you may have heard “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” You may have also heard the saying by Regina Brett “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” While we may desperately want to experience something different, when given the choice, we often run back to what we know. We may even convince ourselves that what we are dealing with is not that bad, even when we are miserable.
We may be addicted to our current situation
There’s a lot of truth to this. Dr. Joe Dispenza speaks of this idea in his groundbreaking work. The emotional states we are in create a cocktail of hormones in our body that we are used to. When we start to take steps to change our actions or circumstances, our body may crave the chemicals of our old emotional state. We see this when we decide to give up a food that we know is not good for us. Sugar for example. The minute we make the decision to give up sugar, we start to have cravings for sugar.
We may resist making a change without a guarantee
Often people are hesitant to make change because it requires a significant effort and they don’t want to engage in wasted efforts without a guarantee of success. However, when they don’t make the effort to make change, their circumstances are guaranteed…nothing will change.
We want instant gratification and change can take time
We live in a culture of instant gratification. We see it in many industries…weight loss, mental health, financial independence, to name a few. The hardest part about change is creating enough momentum for change to take place. It’s often compared to the amount of effort required to change the direction of a large ship. Yet, once the ship begins to turn, the momentum allows the ship to change with ease. The problem with having to put all this effort in in the beginning is that you don’t get any feedback that this effort is making a difference.
We may quit too soon
We may put all kinds of effort in at the beginning and not realize we need to continue our efforts for the change to either occur or be maintained. When it either doesn’t occur right away or we start to notice changes and slide back into old ways, we may give up. We may feel like our efforts don’t matter. We may not realize that the default setting is still hanging around and we need to keep going to quiet down that default setting.
We may be fearful that making a change will make our circumstances worse
Often creating change can feel scary because we’ve attempted to create change in the past and it seemed as though we caused our circumstances to be worse than they were before we tried to do something different. We may be able to point to evidence of when this happened or at least perceived it happened, which keeps us resisting an opportunity to create change for the better.
We may not believe change is possible
Because we’ve not experienced something different, the concept of bringing something new into our lives may not be on our radar or not feel possible. Some people believe that change is available for everyone else but is not possible for them.
We may be carrying old traumas or beliefs on a subconscious level that are holding us back
Circumstances from our childhood that are filed in our subconscious as dangerous may keep us from creating change in our lives. Also, negative circumstances in our teens and adult life, particularly repeated negative circumstances, will cause us to have subconscious fears about moving in another direction.
We may be carrying trauma from our ancestors that causes us to believe that what we want is dangerous
We may be aware of traumatic circumstances our ancestors experienced that cause fear in our subconscious of anything that may resemble the change we would like to experience. There may be fears that are passed down in DNA that we are not aware of that have the same effect.
FORTUNATELY, ALL HOPE IS NOT LOST
The first step to change is recognizing what’s getting in your way. The next step is to bring together what’s necessary to ensure your success and to recognize it might be a bumpy ride.
In my experience, the necessary components to bring about successful change Include:
At least one person who sees your potential and believes in you
This is crucial. If you were able to do it on your own, you would have. When Lady Gaga starred in A Star is Born, she attributed her success to Bradley Cooper, saying “All you need is one person who believes in you, and Bradley Cooper believed in me.” Never underestimate that one person. Often that person is a coach, a mentor, or a trusted guide.
Attracting more people into your life who are on a similar path as you, and insulating yourself from people who are threatened by your desire to create change
The people who are close to you are often resistant to or threatened by your desire to create change in your life. They may or may not be conscious of it. Surrounding yourself with other people who are on their own journeys to create change in their lives will help inspire you, lift you up, and persevere when the going gets tough.
Combining tools and practices that are both practically and spiritually based that complement each other.
Some people tirelessly work really hard and push past barriers to create change, using intellect and grit. Other people focus on their spiritual journey, heart centered practices, and energy work. Combining tools and practices that are based in intellect and grit along with heart centered practices and energy work (energy psychology, meditation) will give you the best chance for success.
Looking for evidence along the way to boost your faith that change is in fact possible for you.
It’s hard to go on blind faith. Creating an awareness of the unexpected opportunities that show up and evidence that change is taking place may be uncomfortable at first. Questioning what you are seeing is natural. Over time, the evidence will boost your faith.
And always remember, it takes courage to change.