In my line of work I help people along the path of improving their lives by making “change”, yet very often people come into my office falling back into old patterns with their heads hanging low.
I then find myself educating on how the process of change happens.
First we become aware of the change we want to make and we examine the reasons the behavior was developed, often exploring where it first began.
Then we find new ways to meet their needs such as getting support, exploring and naming fears and examining the benefits and drawbacks to the behavior.
OK, so this all sounds good in theory but old habits don’t die that easily, do they? I explain that when we try to change an old habit, it sometimes gets worse. Don’t give up at this critical point. The “I can’t stand it anymore” feeling often means you are close to change, especially if you are uncomfortable.
So, why is change so difficult? I was recently reading a book that explained it well and wanted to share this exert from the book Mind Over Money:
“When we understand the changes we need to make and yet find ourselves unable to follow through on them, we often add self-abuse to the emotional baggage we’re already carrying, and that often just adds to our stress. “Why can’t I stick to my budget? I’m such a weakling!” “I know I need to add more to my IRA, but I never do it. How can I be so stupid?” And even if you don’t say those things to yourself, you’ll hear talk-show hosts shouting them, and worse, at people just like you. Whether it comes from ourselves or others, a big dose of criticism just ends up making us feel worse, and erodes our motivation to change: “If I’m such a loser, why bother?”
The fact is, you are not stupid, crazy or lazy. You are a highly evolved human being, behaving exactly like a person who has come from where you’ve come from, witnessed what you have witnessed, and experienced what you have experienced would likely behave! So we invite you to let go of the shame. And don’t beat yourself up for having a hard time not beating yourself up, either. You’ll just put yourself into another shame spiral, and that won’t help at all.
What will help is getting to the real source of the problem. When you truly understand what has gotten you where you are, it all makes sense. There are deep-seated, complicated and even adaptive reasons why changing your…behavior is so difficult. Once you understand and accept those reasons you can learn to overcome the roadblocks standing in your way.”