Change is a part of being human. It is something that is going to happen to us and for us. So why is it so difficult to make changes in our own lives.
Change is one of the biggest gifts we have as humans, we don't have to stay the same.
If creating change in our lives is so desired, then why do we find it so difficult to do. Perhaps you want to quite smoking, or drinking. Maybe you want to get into better shape to be healthier. Or perhaps you are just feeling stuck in your job when you know that you are worth so much more. We know that these changes would make us happier, but we somehow wont take the action that is required to make them a reality. As someone who left home at the age of 16 and still managed to have a celebrated career in the high tech industry, I know how difficult it can be to make changes, but I also know how important change is for you and reaching your best life.
Secret #1: We are creatures of habit.
Secret #2: We are wired to avoid the unknown.
Secret #3: You are not afraid of change, you are avoiding pain.
Secret #1: We are creatures of habit.
Change is not simple.
Especially when we are trying to impose that change on ourselves. Depending on what the change is that you are trying to make, it can feel as though you are trying to remove your own limb. This is because we are by nature creatures of habit. It is engrained in our DNA to find comfort in routines. By having routines and habits, it requires much less brain power to function. It's an efficiency thing! For example, if you look at your morning routine, I would argue that you likely do the exact same thing every single day, and 98% of that is done on autopilot. All the way down to which leg you put through your jeans first. By having patterned behavior, our brains are free to focus on more important things. This is often why we have our amazing breakthrough thoughts in strange places like the shower. We are on autopilot and our brain is working diligently in the background.
Secret #2: We are wired to avoid the unknown
There is a very good reason that we are avoiding change or the unknown or unfamiliar. It is for our own safety. If you and I were lost in the forest and we came across a dark cave that looked perfect for taking shelter for the night, our natural instinct would kick of fear. We would suddenly become afraid of what might be in there. It could be a bear or mountain lion, who knows what is in there. And we would naturally avoid it. This fear was put here by thousands of years of evolution. And guess what, it's not going to change. Even in today's world where you may not need to avoid getting eaten by a mountain lion, your system is still trying to help you avoid danger. If we stick to the paths that we know and that we have traversed many times, our brain is free to do other things. This is why we tend to do things like stay in relationships or jobs that we don't like. It is easier to comprehend and deal with the difficulty of the known, than it is to deal with the potential outcomes of the unknown such as taking a new job, or breaking up and moving out of the relationship you are in that is making you so unhappy.
Secret #3: You are not afraid of change, you are avoiding pain
When you look at the changes that you are looking to make, you will begin to see that it is not actually the change that is scaring you. The real culprit here is pain. Your brain is trying to help you to avoid pain (which is a good thing), but what your brain is not understanding in this situation is that some pain is going to be necessary in order to create the change.
If you want to get in shape, you are going to have to do some work. You are going to need to cut out some foods, and start doing some lifting at the gym. This is causing two reactions in your body. You are going to deprive it of some very yummy glucose in the form of your favorite foods or snacks, and you are going to have to endure some muscle fatigue and growth pains from exercise. The reality is that you will face these pains, but they only last as pain for about 2 weeks. After this, they become dormant to you, and you actually begin to feel better. But your brain doesn't know that yet. It only knows that you want glucose, and a comfortable couch with Netflix. So it's up to you to get over these hurdles of the mind.
Sometimes people play a bit of a trick on their brain by causing a separate pain to distract it. For example, you may decide that you are going to buy that big piece of equipment like a treadmill or Peloton and in order to avoid the pain of taking a financial loss, you will be motivated to use it every day. Unfortunately , the part of our brain that is helping us avoid pain, doesn't know much about modern finance. So this one is going to be on you to manage.
The same can be said about making a job change. You may be like many others and hate your current job, or perhaps you love your job, but hate your boss. You are so unwilling to take the risk of even applying for another job, because the comfort of the familiar (regardless of how bad it may be) outweighs the risk or pain of the unknown by making a move. That is because to your brain, the new job, is just like the dark cave in the forest. It has no idea what is over there, and it convinces you that you are better off where you are.
I am not telling you that you should break up with the person you are with or leave your job, but if you were already going to do it, and you are just too afraid I will leave you with this one last thought.
Life is going to change. All around you!
Are you going to make the changes happen for you, or will you wait for the changes to happen to you?