Why Change Feels Hard
Think of a pattern that you’ve wanted to change for quite some time.
There’s a reason it’s felt difficult. And it’s not because you don’t have enough willpower.
When we replace an old pattern with a new one, we are quite literally rewiring our brains.
Imagine being on a bush walk where you’re hiking along a well-trodden path.
Now imagine being instructed to veer off the path into the overgrown, dense bush. And find your way to the same destination.
There’s a reason why the well-trodden path feels easy.
It’s no different with our brain wiring.
Repeating a familiar old pattern - like reaching for chocolate when we’ve had a stressful day – is the well-trodden path. It’s familiar, easy and obvious. It takes little conscious thought. The path has been trodden hundreds of times before.
Consciously choosing an alternative pattern is difficult – because we simply don’t have the framework for it. How could we, when we’ve never done it before?
So the first step is finding a new, replacement pattern. It might help to think of it as an experiment – try one thing on for size and see how it goes.
Maybe five star jumps.
Maybe taking a little break to walk around the block.
No need to berate ourselves if it doesn’t work out.
Next time, just try something else.
Once you’ve found a decent enough thing, the second step is to keep trying it on, over and over again.
This comes with resistance.
It comes with discomfort.
It comes with frustration, and probably a bit of angst.
Not to mention a hefty dose of foot stomping (likely the five year old in you, wishing change wasn't so damn hard!).
Rather than all this rubbishy stuff being a reason to give up, see if you can adopt a mindset of curiosity instead.
Expect and accept it will be uncomfortable.
And remember, when implementing a new pattern feels hard – it is.
Your poor wee brain is trying to find a new pathway through the bush.
Notice how the first time, there are branches in the way, roots that trip you up, and limited visibility ahead. It’s so bloody difficult, you want to give up.
And sometimes, you will.
Other times, you’ll persist.
The second time, you’ll notice there are a few faint footsteps to follow from last time.
The next, someone’s cleared a few big branches out of the way too.
Eventually, the pathway becomes more comfortable to walk along.
A sign even gets erected.
You get so used to this new direction that the old pathway becomes less appealing.
And soon enough –
even though you encountered boulders of resistance,
logs of discomfort,
and stomped your way through foot-sucking mud,
you find yourself with a new way of doing things.