I’ve been looking for an answer to a seemingly simple question: Why do we resist change even when something doesn’t work for us?
For an entire year I have been cleaning up, changing, maneuvering, and moving things around. I made physical changes, emotional changes, and I’ve changed my mind over just about everything at least 10 times. I’ve discovered the things that I am not attached to are easy to change, like rewriting copy or changing a lead generation funnel. Other things are much harder, like ones that pertain to personal relationships, or letting go of a photography business venture that I enjoy but just doesn’t make enough money. (And I am STILL pushing it, putting in time and money.) Why do we do this?
I compare this to acting like a junkie—we must be addicted to the drama or the difficulty. Otherwise, why would we stick with something that causes us pain?
In this Forbes article, Carol Kinsey Gorman explains why we prefer the discomfort of a well-known routine over the excitement and challenge of creating something new. She says,
- Most of our daily activities, including many of our work habits, are controlled by a part of the brain called the basal ganglia. These habitual, repetitive tasks take much less mental energy to perform because they have become “hardwired” and we no longer have to give them much conscious thought. “The way we’ve always done it” is mentally comfortable. It not only feels right – it feels good.
It is our own brain pain that hinders us from change. It’s a little voice right where the third eye is that keeps telling us to stay put. We justify our ways because what we already have is the safe bet. It COULD be WORSE, right? But, what we don’t think about is the increasing pressure and discomfort we experience when we don’t live up to our full potential. That’s when we break down, have a fall-out, or go through a complete meltdown. I see this happen often with very serious consequences like losing a job or ending a 20-year relationship.
Can you relate?
Change pushes us out of our comfort zone. Gorman compares it to the brain’s fear circuit, which is responsible for our fight-or-flight response. The harder we are forced into making a crucial decision, the more we feel pushed against a wall. Like anyone under attack (even when our own brain is the perpetrator), we do what we can to avoid it. When pushed to make a change, we do just about everything but deal with it NOW.
What can we do differently?
The first Pillar of The Women’s Code is Awareness. If you are unhappy with what you have, you are not getting enough of what you really want. Let’s start there. And know that this perpetual argument within ourselves is the discomfort that we need to push ourselves to finally make the change.
Recently, I was sharing dating stories with a successful woman entrepreneur. She told me about staying in a relationship with someone she didn’t even care that much about simply because it was easier than breaking up. It reminded me of the article I wrote about knowing when to end certain relationships. My advice to her: vow that he was the last of his kind.
Even when we don’t know what letting go will ‘get’ us, understand that if you’re not getting what you want right now, then something better is still coming. Make whatever you are holding onto that isn’t what you really want “the last of its kind.”
What is something you should have changed a long time ago?