Embrace Change for Growth

Understanding why change can be difficult
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Mandy Beart

Many people find themselves stuck in a dilemma where they really want things to change, but they lack the motivation to break free from old habits. Understanding why change can be difficult and why we stick with familiar habits, even when we know they’re detrimental, is important for anyone wanting to lead a more intentional and fulfilling life.

Humans are creatures of habit. Our brains are wired for efficiency and to conserve energy. Old habits provide a comforting and predictable routine, even if they’re counterproductive, contrasting with the uncertainties that change brings. Breaking away from the familiar takes mental and emotional effort that can be overwhelming, creating a psychological barrier against change.

Furthermore, the resistance to changing old habits goes beyond laziness or lack of willpower. Psychological factors such as fear of failure and self-doubt also play a role. Fear of the unknown can be paralysing, making it easier to stay with familiar habits, even when they no longer benefit us.

In some cases, a lack of motivation to change might come from a perceived absence of immediate benefits, or the belief that the effort needed outweighs the potential rewards. Humans are wired to look for pleasure and avoid discomfort, which can lead to procrastination when faced with the perceived unease of breaking old habits.

Outdated habits may have once served a purpose, but as circumstances and priorities evolve, holding on to these habits can block progress and limit one’s potential. Embracing change opens doors to new opportunities, experiences, and perspectives, and teaches us adaptability and resilience when faced with challenges. Practical strategies for initiating and sustaining change over the long term include:

  • Set clear, achievable goals: Define the specific changes you want to make. Break goals into smaller, manageable steps, and celebrate small victories along the way. Instead of a broad goal like exercise more, break it down into smaller goals, such as walk for 20 minutes three times a week.
  • Accountability and support: Share your goals with a trusted friend, family member, mentor or life coach. Having someone holding you accountable and providing encouragement can increase your chances of success.
  • Understand and challenge negative thoughts: Positive affirmations, cognitive reframing and self-compassion can help shift perspectives. Focus on the benefits of change, rather than the challenges.
  • Build gradual momentum: Start with small changes to makes the process more manageable and to allow the brain to adapt more effectively to new behaviours.
  • Embrace failure as a learning opportunity: Setbacks are a normal part of the change process. See them as opportunities for learning and for adjusting your approach.

Change is a challenging yet necessary journey towards a more fulfilling and authentic life. By understanding the psychological barriers, embracing discomfort as a catalyst for growth, and utilising practical strategies, individuals are empowered to approach the process with patience, resilience, and a commitment to personal growth.

In times of overwhelm, a life coach or grief therapist can offer you support, help you to work through challenging thoughts and emotions, and provide strategies to cope, so that you can re-discover joy and meaning in your life.

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