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Why is change so uncomfortable?

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

There’s not many of us who find sitting with change a comfortable place to be. Why is this?

Well firstly, we are creatures of habit. Our subconscious mind is set up to recognise patterns and adopt them quickly. That’s why we are able to do so much of our living without thinking about it. We have created an imprinted habit in our mind that we run through on autopilot. This is extremely efficient and an essential aspect of our survival.

But sometimes it works against us too.

When we want to make changes we decide to do so with our conscious mind. If you’ve read my previous blog on New Year’s Resolutions you will know that the conscious mind is far weaker than the subconscious mind. When we want to make changes and feel comfortable with it it’s the subconscious mind we have to work on.

In brief, the subconscious mind‘s job is to keep you alive. It loves routine and habit because it helps it do its job efficiently. The subconscious mind has no emotion or sense of what’s real or imagined. It just works like a computer hard drive throwing up files linked to what your conscious mind is thinking in order to find a solution for the thought. And this is why change feels so difficult…

When we start to change a routine or a habit our subconscious mind isn’t used to the change in routine so tries to pull you back to old habits and routines, after all it’s kept you alive so far so it must be good for you right?

We all follow a change cycle that looks roughly like this…

- Things get unbearable and we decide to change.

- We start to plan and make changes.

- Things feel different and uncomfortable. The old way was easier and predictable. It was comfortable.

-Suddenly the old way doesn’t seem that bad after all and we question why we are changing.

- At this point most people return back to the old habits and then the process starts again!

Breaking the change cycle.

We can break the change cycle by being aware when we hit the stage of seeing the old way through rose tinted spectacles. When we hit this stage we have to ride out the urge to run back to the familiar and comfortable. Within time the mind maps these new routines as habits and replaces the old for the new. When this happens you have beaten the change cycle and your new comfort zone is set.

What about change that is forced upon us?

This can increase our feelings of discomfort because we aren’t given a choice in the matter. The past two years have been perfect examples of change having to happen and the impact it can have. I also think the past two years have served as a reminder of how resilient and adaptable we are too. Something we often fail to see in ourselves when change is around more individual aspects of our life. One reason forced change feels even more uncomfortable than change we choose, is it acts as a reminder that so little of our life is in our control. We like to plan and organise believing we are in control but in reality there is very little we can control except how we react to what happens. This can feel threatening at times but if we can learn to develop an attitude of ‘Go with what appears for you. Accept that it might not look like you thought but let’s see what happens…’ then we stop wasting time and energy trying to shoehorn things into our vision of how it should be. We also open ourself up to other possibilities that we might miss if we have such a narrow focus.

So whatever changes 2022 brings, ride out the urge to control everything or to go back to the old familiar because before you know it, amazing opportunities and new habits will soon be your comfort zone and you’ll have grown into your new reality.

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