Change is hard. One big reason is that old habits are stubborn. (The adage “old habits die-hard” couldn’t be truer.) When we decide that we want to change, we’ve probably been repeating the same habits for decades. These patterns become deeply embedded in our thoughts, feelings and bodies, and we define ourselves by them.
Our old habits, even if they’re unhealthy, may help us avoid shame, unhappiness or hurt. Naturally, it’s harder to part with habits that are protective. For instance, Naakai has worked with clients who don’t date, apply for jobs they want, or pursue new friendships because they fear rejection.
Change also brings the unknown. We cling to habits that aren’t serving us because they’re familiar, which brings us comfort.
Change may mean doing things that initially are uncomfortable. “We feel ill at ease in our bodies when we try out a new way of being.” Sometimes, we’re not even sure that we’d like to make the change. We don’t have the motivation or we’re intimidated by the process.
Even when we’re ready and willing to take action, obstacles still abound. People often think that change is easier than it is.
Plus, change requires time. “It involves an ongoing awareness to recognize when the old pattern starts taking shape so they can make a different choice in the moment.”
People also get discouraged when they regress. But regressing is normal. After all, change isn’t linear. The good news is that you can overcome these common obstacles and pitfalls.
“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become”. -Lala
Control negative thoughts.
There are techniques from cognitive behaviors that make one can work through negative thoughts that prevent positive change. Because negative thoughts and self-beliefs are typically irrational and false.
If a person fears taking action, help them to consider the worst-case scenario. Apply the “What ifs” and so on.
“Most of the time, the worst-case scenario is hardly ever as bad as people think it is in their head. And they realize they would be able to cope and move forward if the worst-case scenario came true.” -Lawrencia Badu (Lala, NY).
Embrace your fear.
Be honest with yourself about the parts of you that are afraid to change. Welcome this fear without letting it take over. This means recognizing that you’re afraid. For instance, you might say “Hello, fear.” This starts a friendly relationship with fear. Fear creates a scary story in your mind about what might or might not happen, and physical sensations in your body. This fear is common in relationships. It distracts you from focusing on the main thing. It create doubts and increase problems in our daily lives but ones you learn to become an expert of you old habits, you can overcome fear.
Instead of dwelling on these thoughts, refocus on what is true: You don’t know what’ll happen. Then be aware of the physical sensations in your body without attaching a story to these sensations, she said.
When you’re aware of the fear, it doesn’t drive you, she said. That is, it gives you the space to connect to what you really want in the moment.
Focus on your thoughts, Be an expert in your old ways.
Focus on the content of your thoughts, the emotions you experience and the physical sensations associated with an old habit. These details will help you to recognize the old habits when they occur so you can make positive, life-affirming choices.
In order to quiet your inner critic, you need to know how it works. You explore what your inner critic says to you; what triggers it; what emotions are present when your inner critic starts roaring; how you feel in your body when it’s in charge; what it tells you to do and not do; and how it influences your life.
Knowing how your inner critic works makes it much easier to identify. Rather than getting involved in it, pushing it away, or hating that it’s present, you can gently say, ‘I see you, but I’m not going there,’ which you may need to do a thousand times a day, but that’s OK.
Eventually, all it takes is one thought or the beginning of contraction in your body and you are aware enough to stop, take a breath, stand in your truth of what you really want, and let the inner critic pass by you.”
Take baby steps.
Change is very hard when everything seems so overwhelming so help people to break things down into small steps.
Change is rarely easy, so if you’re running into obstacles, know that it’s part of the process. Be kind and patient with yourself and reach out for help and support if you need it.