The Mindset Junkie: Why is change so hard?

Making a commitment to join the gym could be the start of a positive change.
Making a commitment to join the gym could be the start of a positive change.

I hope everyone is easing into the New Year and decade and I sincerely hope that you are committed to making a positive change in not only your own lives but the lives of others.

‘Change’ - that single word that can attach so much meaning and emotion and be so hard for some to ever achieve. It’s something I struggled hard with for years. The real change I wanted to see always eluded me, and I never really knew why.

The reason was because I didn’t understand myself or how my mind really worked. So why is it often so hard for us to create real lasting change? And how does it seem so easy for others to just cruise on through and hit every goal they set?

You see one of the hardest things we have to learn to do, to really create the changes we want to see, is to break the habit, or habits, of our old self. In last week’s article I discussed why so many resolutions never work, often because the real changes that are needed internally just never happen.

Breaking the habit of being you means having to uncover so many habits that we are unaware of, habits that we unwittingly allow to control us every single day. We must then re-write those negative programmes for something new and more empowering that can take us in the direction we really want to go.

Last year I quit drinking alcohol - a really big hurdle and habit that was ingrained in my way of thinking and living so much. As we all know, it’s so prevalent in our culture that we don’t need much of a reason to have a drink.

I had wanted to give drink up for years. I tried and failed. I tried again and failed because it was a habit that, for me, was so deeply ingrained. I needed to break that habit so when it kept rearing its ugly head, I would question myself every time I had a drink. “Why are you doing this?

Is this really the higher version of you that you say you want to be?”

This was the inner voice that would pop up time and again. A few more bottles would usually be enough to dim that voice until the next morning when I would kick myself for giving into that habit. Alcohol is simply one example and it was the one that I wanted to kick most as I have seen the negative effects it had on others and on myself.

Food addiction, sugar cravings, being addicted to our mobile phones and the habits they create, these patterns we repeat constantly are so hard to break.

What is the trigger that takes you towards those habits that don’t serve you positively anymore? Maybe someone ticked you off in work, in traffic, relationships or somewhere else. There are so many triggers we all have that lead us towards those habits. They are hard wired into our brains, bodies and minds to such an extent that we move into action before we even recognise the behaviour or become fully aware of it.

So many of our habits and behaviours are unconscious. We simply aren’t aware of them. So, can you see how hard it can be to break some of our habits when we aren’t fully aware of what they are, or what the trigger is?

And if we have performed these same habits over and over again for years without really thinking of them, they become normalised and also impossible to recognise. For instance a learned behaviour and action, or habit, is something that you do automatically without having to think about it such as brushing your teeth, getting dressed, driving your car. These are all ingrained and do not require you to pay any conscious attention towards them in order to perform them.

And we have so many negative habits that are exactly the same.

When I wanted to stop drinking I had to repeatedly ask myself, ‘Is alcohol moving me closer to the person I want to become or is it dragging me away from the person I want to become? The answer was always the latter. It didn’t serve me anymore and I knew I had to break that habit.

To break our habits we first need to identify what we need to change but we must also want to change those things about ourselves and then the work and dedication begins.

It is here though that so many will give up or stop because it isn’t easy. We are breaking the habits of a lifetime, ones that, deep down, we feel emotionally attached to. It’s like losing your identity in a lot of cases but this is needed sometimes in order to move in the direction we really want and to live and feel how we really want. You are creating the new self and getting rid of the old.

Sometimes when I’m coaching people, or at my seminars and workshops, if I ask, ‘Who do you want to be?’ or ‘What are the goals you want to achieve?” it runs a blank. This is not because people do not have aspirations but because so many of us have bigger, limiting beliefs about our potential we won’t even bother to think that way, never mind set the intention.

So here is what you can do that can help you get started. Ask yourself this, ‘Who do you not want to become?’

Maybe this year for you is about finally getting into shape, or living up to your true potential, or maybe it is about finally creating that business you have always wanted. You need to look at how you show up, what are you doing every single day and how do you feel? Ask yourself a simple question such a,s ‘Are these habits moving me in the direction I want to go, or are they dragging me away from the person I truly want to become?

Make a list of the top three to five habits that you want to change. Become aware of them and write them down so you can see them. Beside that list create three to five new positive habits that you would love to have instead of the negative, older habits that don’t serve you anymore.

Then, get rid of the old list and begin to focus on the new. That’s when the inner work must begin to change our beliefs our habits and the image we hold of ourselves. It’s here that requires the work and persistence to rewire old beliefs and habits and create the new.

If this is something you truly want then there won’t be anything or anyone that can stop you from having it.

Check out the Mindset Junkie podcast and other related material here.