How To Cope With Change Without Any Resistance
Because it's fair to say there's been quite a lot of it lately.
Over the past few months, since early 2020, life has changed. Literally, for everyone, no matter where they are in the world or what their circumstances are. So much so that it almost feels as if we were propelled into another world. How we work, socialise, eat, drink, exercise – you name it, it’s completely different.
And yet, while everything has changed around us, we’ve all tried our very best to adapt to – I’m gonna say it – this new normal. But realistically, we had no choice; we had to adapt to all these new rules and regulations. Whether that’s working from home, feeling the pressure as a frontline worker, cancelling weddings and changing foreign holiday destinations to a weekend in the country. We adapted, and we’re still adapting.
However, when it comes to changing our lives by our own choice, or changing something about ourselves, that’s when things can become more difficult. It’s a whole other ball game altogether.
How can we even begin to change something about our own lives, particularly when we’re so strongly resisting that change? Usually, if a person wants to change something in their lives, it’s because it’s not making them happy. Maybe you’re trying to get up the courage to find a new job or end a relationship, or simply trying to be more positive each day. You have to wonder: If you know you want to alter an aspect of your life, why are you still so resistant? And other than referring to motivational mugs or Instagram posts, what can we do?
According to emotional health advisor Susana Serradas (susanaserradas.com, @mindcarecoaching), we’re resistant to change because it is so often a long, daunting process. “Generally, when you want to change anything, whether that’s behaviours, habits or emotions, it doesn’t happen overnight. The reason for that is because of our behaviours, our emotions and our habits, which come from years and years of thought patterns.
“Usually, we recycle thoughts and have the same thoughts over and over and over again on a loop. That’s what creates these habits, emotions and behaviours.”
Susana explains that changing something in your life isn’t as straightforward as you might think. “When it comes to changing something about your life or lifestyle, you need to change your thoughts, you need to be aware of what you’re thinking. Most of the time, we’re not even aware of our thoughts because they’re the same thoughts recycled so often.
“For example, think of when you get up in the morning. You check your phone, you make a cup of coffee, you go for a shower, whatever you do. You’re not even thinking about it, it’s just your own autopilot. So in order to change your actual thoughts and as a result change whatever it may be in your life, it takes a lot of energy and consistency.
“Again, this won’t happen overnight, But it can be done by thinking your way towards being aware, and setting up the neural pathways for the new behaviour to come through.”
When you’re trying to change an aspect of your life, such as leaving a job where you feel stuck in a rut, it can be made difficult simply because you have to leave your comfort zone. Staying in a job, relationship or any situation because the thoughts of changing are scary, and the risk might not be ‘worth it’, can be incredibly paralysing.
In this kind of scenario, Susana suggests that being kind to yourself can really go a long way in accepting change. “Sometimes people just want to stick with a familiar grind, because habits create that familiarity.
When things start to change, it’s like ‘Oh my God, this doesn’t feel like me’. But if you think of change like when you get on a flight, there may be a bit of turbulence. But you run with it, and then you will eventually get to your destination. The part where you go into the unknown is where the magic happens.”