Why are some habits easy to change, and others much more difficult?
The process of positive change usually starts with some level of awareness or insight about a destructive pattern. It could be that we’ve been carrying out the same self-defeating behaviour for years and it’s not giving us the results we want. We might be in pain, or we might be feeling stuck. Something needs to shift, but we don’t know what or how.
When there is no self awareness, beliefs about ourselves show up as an invisible force of energy that surreptitiously dictates our decisions, perceptions, and behaviours. The same people and situations keep showing up in our life, and harmful patterns are reinforced. When we want to make a change; manifest a different yet more Self-serving experience; or move towards Self-actualization, we will be hit with a massive force of resistance.
Resistance to Change
Resistance is the experience of feeling stuck, or feeling like we are pushing against a brick wall. It can feel like we are trying to change our habits, but no matter how hard we try, nothing seems to shift.
Resistance is also the experience of making progress in the short term, we give ourselves some leeway, and next thing we know we revert back to our old habits.
There are many different factors that contribute to resistance. In this article, we will explore some of the main ones.
Factors that Contribute to Resistance
1. Lack of self-awareness
2. Unhelpful beliefs about change
3. Emotional resistance
4. External resistance
If you want to make lasting changes in your life, it is important to become aware of the different factors that might be holding you back. Once you understand what is happening, you can start to take steps to overcome resistance and make the changes you want to see in your life.
Lack of Self-Awareness
One of the main reasons we experience resistance is because we are not aware of our destructive patterns. We might be aware that we have a problem, but we don’t really understand how it works or what keeps it going.
If we don’t have a clear understanding of our problem, it can be difficult to know where to start when we want to make a change. We might try to change our behaviour, but without understanding the root cause of the problem, our efforts are likely to be ineffective.
To overcome resistance, it is important to develop self-awareness about our destructive patterns. We need to understand how they work and what keeps them going. Only then can we start to make lasting changes.
Unhelpful Beliefs About Change
Another factor that contributes to resistance is our beliefs about change. We might believe that change is difficult, or that it’s not possible for us to change.
These beliefs can be very powerful and can prevent us from even trying to make a change. If we believe that change is impossible, we are likely to give up before we even start.
To overcome resistance, it is important to examine our beliefs about change. Do we really believe that change is impossible? Or are there other factors that are holding us back?
Emotional resistance is another common factor that contributes to resistance . When we are trying to make a change, we might feel scared, or anxious, or doubtful.
These emotions can be very powerful and can prevent us from taking action. We might be afraid of failing, or of making a mistake. We might be worried about what other people will think of us.
To overcome resistance, it is important to become aware of our emotions and to understand what they are telling us. Are we really afraid of failing? Or are we just afraid of the unknown?
Finally, external resistance is another factor that can contribute to resistance. This is when the people and environment around us are not supportive of the change we are trying to make.
For example, if we are trying to eat healthier, but everyone around us is eating junk food, it can be very difficult to stick to our healthy eating plan.
To overcome resistance, it is important to identify the people and environment around us that are not supportive of our change. Once we are aware of them, we can start to take steps to protect ourselves from their influence.
It is also helpful to be aware of our choices so that we aren’t putting ourselves in situations where we will be froth with temptations.
Making Positive Changes Last
If you want to make positive changes in your life, it is important to become aware of the different factors that might be holding you back. Once you understand what is happening, you can start to take steps to overcome resistance and make the changes you want to see in your life.
The first step is to create some awareness around the issue at hand.
Some questions we can ask ourselves:
- What is the problem?
- What are the consequences of this problem?
- How long have I been dealing with this problem?
- What are the underlying causes of this problem?
- What are my beliefs around this issue?
- What is my relationship to this problem?
- How does this problem make me feel?
In my experience, some of the changes I wanted to implement threatened the identity, albeit false, I had about myself.
Some other helpful questions:
- What belief about myself gets reinforced by doing this habit?
- What fears arise when I start to make a change?
- What am I afraid to lose if I make this change?
Answering these questions honestly will give us a better understanding of the situation and will help us to develop a plan of action.
The second step is to understand that change is a process, not an event.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. It is a gradual process that happens over time. In order to make lasting changes, you need to be patient and have realistic expectations.
The third step is to develop a plan of action.
Now that you have a better understanding of the issue and the resistance you are facing, you can start to develop a plan of action. This might involve seeking out support, changing your environment, or making lifestyle changes.
Making positive changes in your life can be challenging, but it is possible. With awareness and understanding, you can overcome resistance and make lasting changes.
Change From the Level of Mind
What I’m finding impactful and lasting is changing the belief about myself from which I take action, and from which I view and interact with the world. A different way in how I see things requires a determined willingness to shift a paradigm about myself and how I approach the world.
Change needs to occur at the level of mind as well as at the level of form or behaviour. I need to change my inner framework – what I believe about who I am – in order for me to experience lasting transformation. I need to change my beliefs, then I follow it up with actions that are aligned to the new beliefs.
The line of questioning that we can ask ourselves in order to get to the root of how and why we make the choice that we make, how our habits are formed and reinforced, and who we believe that we are when we have those habits, is an important step.
For example, if I want to make a change in my eating and exercise habits, what would be the new beliefs I can have about myself? I see myself as someone who cares about my health and wellbeing or I am someone who has a healthy lifestyle.
So then if I have a healthy lifestyle, what choices would I make when I’m choosing what food to eat, would I drive to the store or would I walk, would I stay up late or would I go to bed at a time that would give me appropriate sleep, would I drink soda or water, etc.
We can use our willpower to white-knuckle our way through life, trying to control everything and make it happen according to our agenda. But this is only a temporary fix, and it’s not sustainable because it requires so much energy to maintain. Our old patterns will always reassert themselves unless we deal with them at the level of mind.
Writer and globe wanderer, who's interests not only take her to distant corners of the world, but also to undiscovered regions of her inner Self. Proponent of the practice of mindfulness, self-compassion, and gratitude, the trifecta of healing and being, to transform her relationship with daily life challenges.
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