Change is difficult, really difficult. It is even more challenging to have any change last into the future. Be it healthy eating, going to the gym, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and so on, habits are hard to break and it is likely to take time.
Why is change difficult?
Change is difficult for a number of reasons:
- Change is uncertain: Uncertainty is often a very difficult place for people psychologically.
- The unknown is daunting: We often resist what we do not know and worry about how we may cope. Often what we are currently doing is also a useful support. When we make a change we may feel anxious and fearful.
- Unhelping thinking: Often our mind beats us up, it tells us all sorts of nasty things that do not help us to change, “this is pointless”, “you are lazy”, “you are incompetent” and so on.
- Unrealistic expectations: We try to solve entire problems at once rather than taking small measureable steps in the right direction.
- Lack of genuine interest: People often decide to make changes based on what they think they “should” do. For example, I “should lose weight”, “I should exercise regularly”. However, if you have no genuine interest and it is not linked to your core values then it will be much more difficult to sustain over time.
- Uncomfortable feelings and sensations: You are likely to encounter difficult feelings and sensations when doing something different. Most people are hard-wired to avoid these challenging feelings and when they crop up they create significant barriers to change.
Despite these barriers to change, people are able to successfully make important changes in their life. Usually when they have a genuine interest and their goals are linked to their values. Additionally, when individuals plan what they will actually do they are much more likely to be successful. It is important to review your progress and celebrate your success along the way. Finally, prepare for relapse or failure. The biggest risk is when you slip up, it is easy to feel resigned and give up. Instead, success is considering slip-ups as part of the overall process of change.
Present Moment Psychologists believe that meaningful change can occur through noticing your patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving. Present Moment Psychology are happy to support you in preparing for and dealing with barriers to change.
Author: Rebecca Dallard