One thing we’ve all been getting a lot of lately is change. On the work front, at home, in our community and relationships, we’ve recently all experienced an unprecedented amount of change. If you’re still adjusting to things, you’re not alone. Change is often unsettling and challenging during the initial change process and after, while we’re still adjusting.
So why is change so hard?
It mostly comes down to the human brain and it’s priorities. Our brain’s job is to keep us alive. That’s its focus. It’s all about survival. This is a good thing, obviously. It keeps us out of harms way, it’s constantly assessing threats and clearing a safe path for us. Yay for that.
Our brains are also prioritising efficiency. The brain always wants to be efficient. So if it’s been done before, our brains love it, it can do it again (nothing new for it to do).
Cue global pandemic with threat to life, livelihood and changes across all facets of your routine… and sure enough, our brains are overloaded.
Our brains are now processing a lot more stimuli because much of what we’ve been seeing and doing is new. That means it’s sorting a lot of new data and determining if it’s a threat or not. Secondly, all this new stuff we have to do (new routine for work, home, sanitising hands and environments) is just that – new. And new things require new neural pathways, so that means definitely NO chance of the brain going on autopilot.
The result? Tiredness, stress, confusion, anxiety…
(It’s a lot to take on in a short time. If you don’t have a self care routine, check out my recent blog post on this:)
So, change is hard because our brains want certainty, familiarity and efficiency. And all this change is bringing unfamiliarity, uncertainty and
starting from scratch. And guess what? We’re all in it together. All human brains are going through this.
Let me share a few more reasons why change is hard(for everyone):
An attachment or emotional connection is disrupted
Change creates a shift from one thing to another. The thing you left behind (situation or person) can be felt as a loss. At the very least there is a disconnect from that old situation in order to move to the new.
You experience challenging emotions more often
If you haven’t already experienced this, then good luck to you, my friend! As we explained, the brain wants to keep us safe and we’re now in the midst of a global pandemic… you can see why the brain might slip into fight or flight mode. This can bring up anger, anxiety and fear. Certainly plenty of emotions to manage and process.
Your self and world view change, your values change
Change can shift our perspective and consequently our values. This is big. Our whole view of the world and our place in it can change dramatically because of change that occurs in our lives. Our whole values system can be affected.
We don’t understand the change process
We don’t know why we’re feeling so tired, stressed and vulnerable. If we realise that this is part of the process of change and adjustment, it’s slightly easier to deal with. And if we know others are experiencing something similar, then that helps too.
We have unrealistic expectations
“Okay, so we’ve been working from home for months, so why is it still hard? Why do I feel unsettled and like I don’t know what’s happening really?” Because we have unrealistic expectations about change. In short, we expect change to be pleasant, easy and short. It is mostly the opposite of that. But that’s not a bad thing! It’s challenging, yes. But it’s also a journey. A journey that requires you to be flexible and pack some resilience into your rucksack. If you can embrace change as an ongoing evolution rather than something you want over and done with asap, you’ll travel a lot easier down the road of change.
All in all, there’s nothing wrong if you feel unsettled, like you’re struggling to find your feet. This is the rockiness of the road of change. Try accepting it as it is. Put on your comfy shoes and choose to just keep walking anyway.
And remember, you’re not alone. We’re all in this together.