Why is it so difficult to make changes in our lives? We all talk about it, and some of us will start work on it, but in the end we seem to get stuck in remaining the same. This happens even when we know that it would be best to make certain changes in our life. Why is this?
Change is Difficult
Part of this is we like what is familiar and tend to be fearful of anything that may be new. Change is very hard for us to handle because it makes us feel very uncomfortable, even when we are faced with the problems in our present ‘familiar’ life situation.
Change Takes Both Work and Time
Anything new is hard to learn as it seems to take too long to do before we find it becoming comfortable and second nature to us. We also want change to happen fast and we become impatient when it doesn’t happen fast. We are conditioned to want immediate solutions and answers even though real lasting change takes time and practice over and over again.
Change is Blocked by Old Habits
Sometimes we stick with our old habits because they are familiar to us. We do not want to be uncomfortable. For example, we find ourselves staying with others who are not the best people to be around as they have a negative influence on our lives. They are not good mentors who can help point us into improving our life’s, but they are familiar. So we stay in those relationships with friends, spouses, and others as we are use to being treated poorly. When we do leave it is not unusual for us to find other friends who are negative people who block growth in our personal lives.
Change can be Blocked by the Past
Change is blocked by past traumas, hurts and wounds which many of us have as we travel through life. As a result, we find ourselves stuck in a ‘flight or fight response’ where we either want to fight back or run away. Many times, these past hurts, traumas, neglect by others, are hard to admit as we even hide them from our conscious minds and self so we don’t feel them in our present life.
Change can be Blocked by Excuses
A traumatic way of responding becomes a way of living that is automatic and familiar, even if it leads to self-destruction in relationships and jobs. We develop a habit of excuses for not changing or growing. We develop get trapped in “yes, but” and other excuses for not ‘growing up’ and working the change over time. We are stuck in old messages, probably from childhood, for how we should be in life; imperfect and defective because of… whatever. Some may be true, but the majority of these issues are changeable with knowledge, work, giving it time.
We Have Mixed Feelings about Change
We believe that we can’t change basic things about ourselves. We like the familiar and they remind us of where we came from. We get stuck in our ambivalence (mixed feelings). Staying the same gives us a warped sense of control. This control gives us a sense of security and is many times based on our anger at others. So we would rather that ‘they change’ even in the face of the reality that we can’t change others.
How to Implement Change
So you’ve got the overall understanding of how change works and what keeps us stuck. Now comes the important part: Actually making the changes.
First, you need to admit to yourself, and to others, that you are stuck and don’t know how to change.
You need to ask for help (real help) and tell them that you need them to push you towards growth and personal change so you are not stuck. Talking for the sake of talking may make you feel good at the moment but that does not lead to helping your to really face your problems. You need to agree to have someone who can help guide and push you to a better life even if it feels hard. This person must be healthier than you or any of your present, or past, negative people in your life.
Admit that you are fearful and don’t know what to do. You will struggle to learn new things but this is all part of learning to be a better you. So you have to start to pretend, or act like, what the person is you want to be. You learn to act in a more positive way, to make positive decisions, and to keep moving toward the goal of how you should be in life: A normal, functioning person who isn’t running away from being a responsible adult.
You need to start writing down what goals you want to achieve to make you a better person. Also write a note to yourself that you don’t have to make changes fast or achieve all your goals at once. Change happens with one step at a time. Each day you should write down what you should and need to be doing in more positive ways to help continue to bring about change in your life.
You need to write out what traumas, fears, hurts and lack of knowledge you might know, or suspect, about that has been blocking you from growing into a healthy person. For example, if your early years were a time when you experienced neglect, abuse, and trauma, you need to start to guess what your ‘little self’ might have been experiencing and how they felt overwhelmed, fearful of getting close, and how this might have left your early childhood self afraid to love and want to grow in a positive way in relationships.
You should also write down those situations in the past when you felt safe and how you made yourself safe in those situations. Make sure to compliment the small child inside of you for doing what it could to help protect you while admitting that continuing to do that in the present may not be practical in you present adult life.
Be honest with yourself and others about your fears of changing for the better. Many times it feels ‘safer’ to remain the same. It is a known way of being that makes it comfortable to stay in bad relationships, in bad situations and not growing.
The most important thing to realize is that when things seem to be the hardest and you want to quit is when you are getting close to making permanent change. Stay positive. Remind yourself that you are working on making life better for the present and the future.