If change is a natural part of our lives then why is it sometimes so hard?
Anyone who has set and attempted to achieve goals knows all about this. Anyone who ha tried to break a habit, create a new habit, adjust to living in a new city or without someone you love… you know the challenges of change.
Change is everywhere really. You just have to look at technology itself and how that alone has changed our lives even just within the last decade. There are so many new experiences, conveniences and new ways to connect. Change out there in the world, with cool new gadgets, is kind of fun and exciting. But change within our own lives and within ourselves? It’s often not so fun and exciting for us.
I mean just think about the last time you moved house or changed jobs. Do you have fond memories of that experience? Or did it feel chaotic at best? The nature of change is confronting and when it’s on our own doorstep messing with our routine, our work or our relationship, it can be a tough challenge.
So why is it so challenging for us?
Well, there are a few key reasons why we often struggle with change:
Change alters our world
Change interrupts how we normally go about things and how we cope with things in the world. We’re kind of knocked off our usual track and it’s, well, bumpy.
Change affects our notion of who we are
Change challenges our beliefs and our closely held values. Our very concept of who we are is therefore called into question.
Change can trigger anxiety
By its very nature change will cause anxiety in most of us but specifically it is the effect of change on our relationships and ties with others that causes us to feel anxious.
Change signifies an end
Change is a shift- from the old to the new. It is both a beginning and an end. Depending on the nature of change this can cause a sense of loss.
So essentially change is a “disruption” of sorts. The well-known, comfortable space becomes unknown and foreign. As I’ve explained previously, our human brains naturally resist change because anything unknown is seen as a threat to our survival. The altering of our world, a shift in our identity scares the heck out of our brains and it therefore sends us some stress (thanks for that brain). The point is, being human means change is going to be challenging with our own brains resisting it.
Here’s how to deal with it:
Accept that it will be challenging. Know that because change is hard, that does NOT mean there’s something wrong with you. Everyone is challenged by change!
Accept that adjusting to change may take a while. I know we all want to just flip a switch and be completely committed to our new habits or adjusted in our new work role. But realistically it takes time. Give yourself time.
Accept that you will fall off the wagon. Change is not a straight line from one way of being to another. If you graphed it it’d probably be a zigzag. You cope and adjust to the new quite well for a while, then you “regress” back to the old way. Again, this is a normal part of the process. Noone decides to change and does it in one stride! You’ll go back and forth for some time, but if you keep hanging on and moving forward, it will happen!
Have your own back. If change is so challenging then it’s almost like you need a friend to help you on the way. Well, you do. It’s you who needs to be your best friend in this process. (Although having a coach or friend encouraging you helps). This does not involve berating yourself when you misstep or letting yourself do whatever your mood dictates. It’s about recognizing what you have achieved and patting yourself on the back. And when you get off track, you just say to yourself “that’s alright, I’ll do better tomorrow” and keep moving forward. Bottom line: Don’t be so hard on yourself.