Updated: Jul 7, 2019
Why is change so hard…even when it’s good for me?
Don't worry....there's nothing wrong with you, or anyone for that matter…WE ALL STRUGGLE with change to some degree, especially when we believe we are “not ready for it”. We are actually BIOLOGICALLY PROGRAMMED TO RESIST CHANGE as a protective mechanism. You know...like when you take the same path to work every day, it's predictable, familiar, comfortable and most importantly, you FEEL SAFER. So you keep taking the same familiar path, creating a pattern or habit that you automatically follow over and over, kind of like being on AUTOPILOT. Makes sense right? Taking the same path to work every day might be a really good idea…you can time things better, you feel more confident about your driving skills, you know the road well, you are less likely to become stressed or anxious and you are more likely to arrive safely (good pattern/habit).
Autopilot seems like a good thing…it’s easier and safer this way right?
But wait, what if your autopilot takes you in a direction that isn’t so positive (unhealthy pattern/habit)? What if you’re STUCK IN AN UNHEALTHY PATTERN/HABIT and you don’t know how to fix it? Like staying in a relationship, job or emotional loop that may be comfortable or familiar but not necessarily good for you…the “dragon you know”. Whether it’s because of fear, denial or avoidance, you just keep doing the same thing over and over…never trying anything different, …you are officially STUCK IN A RUT!
Ok…so you’re stuck in a rut…what now?
Well…the answer is fairly simple to understand but not always easy to do. Since change is inevitable and resistance is futile, you either adapt or get stuck. We all know that you can’t always change your environment and you for sure can’t control others. So the only way to bring about positive change is to focus on the things you actually have control of: YOUR MINDSET…YOUR THOUGHTS…YOUR BELIEFS…YOUR ACTIONS. You can't learn to ride a bike by reading about it right? If you are seeking healthy change it requires thoughtful, dedicated and FOCUSED ACTION ON YOUR PART.
For TRUE CHANGE to happen you must do these 6 things:
First take an HONEST INVENTORY of your true feelings, health of relationships, life balance, surroundings, fulfillment, desires & goals etc.
ACKNOWLEDGE any unhealthy paths, behaviors, thoughts or relationships that are not in your best interest now or in the long run
ACCEPT that nothing changes if nothing changes. You either move forward, take the risk and accept the growing pains or stay put and accept your current situation and learn to live with it
ACTIVELY CHOOSE to break unhealthy patterns or beliefs, learn something new, become more intentional, face your fears, take calculated risks, practice doing something different and take a trip off the beaten path to explore what’s out there and what you are made of. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU MAY FIND!
PROCESS vs PRODUCT…focus on your effort more than the outcome. Don’t let your success or failure define you or your worth. You are much more than what you “accomplish”, how much money you earn or how talented you are. Growth happens when we are intentional and diligent in our actions, take conscious risks and accept that failure is part of our journey toward fulfillment. Relying solely on perfection and achievement will only bring fleeting fulfillment.
REPEAT…once you find a new improved path or a way out of your rut, keep doing it over and over until, like the route to work, you create patterns, beliefs and relationships that actually nourishes, or at the very least, sustains you.
Lisa Conn Akoni, MA. MFT
Marriage & Family Therapist
Clinical Program Developer, Consultant, Trainer & Supervisor