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Why is Change So Difficult?

Shannon Thomas LCSW-S
By Shannon Thomas LCSW-S |Southlake, TX

One of the most exciting and sometimes scary experiences we can go through is having our lives touched by change. Sometimes changes are small, like wanting to break a daily habit, or a large change, such as moving to another city or ending a relationship. Change temporarily uproots our routines and sense of security. It can also serve to improve our lives in incredible ways, so our aversion to change can be unwarranted at times.

Why is change so difficult if it can lead to better things in our life? I think the answer lies in three key elements that hinder our ability to immediately embrace the newness that comes with change.

We Are Comfortable Enough

Our lives are full of structure that drive our schedules. Even though we may grumble about how busy or overwhelming our lives feel, we’re still at some level comfortable enough. Otherwise, we’d do more to foster proactive change in our life and daily routines. When we’re comfortable, we can also become numb or lie to ourselves. In our inner dialogue, we convince ourselves that change isn’t needed. We welcome the status quo, even if the situation isn’t ideal.

How do we overcome our desire to stay comfortably numb? We need to embrace the aspects of our lives that work, but also allow ourselves the freedom to be honest about areas that are causing discomfort or stress. We bring our fears from the subconscious to the conscious by verbalizing our concerns about changing our lives. This can be done by sharing with a friend or journaling for only our eyes to see. We’re more likely to keep moving forward through the rough patches of change if we can be honest about the fact that we no longer want to remain comfortable enough, but still dissatisfied.

Where Will Change Lead Us?

Sometimes we’re apprehensive about change because we’re not entirely sure it will lead to a positive outcome. On the far end of this worry spectrum are individuals who develop a phobia called Metathesio, which is the intense fear of change. While the vast majority of people don’t develop a clinical phobia, everyone experiences some level of discomfort when being uprooted in some way. No one wants to leave one situation only to live in regret about the next stop. Many of us know people who made rash decisions and were left with the pieces to clean up. We don’t want to make the same mistake so we move slowly, or not at all, into making life changes.

How can we limit the possible negative outcomes with change? We do ourselves a huge favor by taking enough time to weigh all the possible outcomes about any changes we’re considering. We need to know what each option will, could or might entail. Are we having to predict the future with limited information? A little bit. But with as much preparation as possible, we help ourselves have the best outcome to any changes we decide to initiate and hopefully, embrace.

Why Does Change Take So Long?

We may have come out of being too comfortable, walked through all possible outcomes and executed change. Then we waited to see the fruits of our efforts. We may still be waiting. Why does it take so long to see results? It takes as long as it takes and varies greatly for each person.

One of the main components that we don’t plan for is that most change takes longer than expected. For example, deciding to make changes to our diet and eating habits. We carefully plan out meals, get ourselves to workout, yet we don’t see large enough results for all our efforts. We become discouraged. You may have even heard that it takes 21 days to change a habit but honestly, that’s just a myth. Change can take time and we all know this to be true. Before making changes, we may feel worried that we won’t see the results quick enough to stay motivated.

How can we protect ourselves from becoming disheartened about slow changes? We set out with realistic expectations. Any change will cause the dust to kick up for a while. We must be ready for it and on a deeper level, embrace the temporary chaos that change creates. Once the initial unnerving season passes, we steady ourselves for the long walk to permanent lasting change. If we remind ourselves that change is like a train leaving a station, we won’t become impatient with wanting to see quicker momentum for our efforts.

Life never stays the same, so we’re in a constant state of change whether we like it or not. Sometimes we want things to be different so we put action into motion to make our situation new. Whether we initiate change or it’s delivered to us, we can make the journey easier for ourselves by resisting the pull to stay comfortable by looking forward to where it may lead us and enjoying the slow road to seeing the benefits of lasting change.

Shannon Thomas LCSW-S
Shannon Thomas LCSW-S |Southlake, TX
I really, truly, authentically understand the need to be an over-comer in life. Life has thrown some interesting twists and turns along my path. I strongly believe in the power of living to our fullest potential, having the ability to...Read More
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