Why is change difficult?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

Change is often difficult because it requires us to go against the grain of our well-established behavioral patterns. Our brains are wired to seek efficiency and conserve energy, so they have developed unconscious, automatic processes that make our lives easier. These processes create habits and routines that become deeply ingrained in our daily lives.

When we attempt to make a change, whether it is a new habit, a different way of thinking, or a major life decision, we are essentially asking our brains to break free from these automatic processes. This can be challenging because our brains naturally resist anything that disrupts the familiar and comfortable.

One reason change is difficult is due to the concept of cognitive biases. These biases are mental shortcuts that our brains use to simplify decision-making and processing information. While they serve a purpose in many situations, they can also hinder our ability to embrace change. For example, confirmation bias leads us to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs, making it harder to consider alternative perspectives or adopt new ideas.

Another factor that contributes to the difficulty of change is the fear of the unknown. Stepping into unfamiliar territory can trigger feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and even fear. Our brains are wired to prioritize safety and security, so the prospect of change can activate the brain’s threat response system. This can lead to resistance and a strong desire to maintain the status quo.

Furthermore, change often requires effort and persistence. It is not uncommon to encounter setbacks, obstacles, or failures along the way. These challenges can be discouraging and make us question whether the change is worth pursuing. Our brains are wired to seek immediate rewards and avoid discomfort, so the prospect of a long and potentially challenging change process can be daunting.

Personal experiences also play a significant role in shaping our attitudes towards change. Past failures or negative experiences can create a fear of repeating those experiences, making us more resistant to change. Additionally, we may have developed a comfort zone within our current circumstances, even if they are not ideal. Stepping out of this comfort zone can be uncomfortable and unsettling, leading to resistance and difficulty in embracing change.

In my own life, I have faced numerous challenges when trying to implement change. One particular experience stands out when I decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle. I had to break the habit of eating unhealthy foods and incorporate regular exercise into my routine. Initially, it was incredibly difficult to resist the temptation of my favorite comfort foods and overcome the inertia of a sedentary lifestyle. However, with persistence, support from others, and a clear vision of the benefits, I was able to make the change and maintain it over time.

To summarize, change is difficult because it requires us to go against the automatic processes and habits that our brains have developed for efficiency. Cognitive biases, fear of the unknown, and the effort required to make and sustain change all contribute to the difficulty. Personal experiences and the comfort of our current circumstances can also create resistance. However, with awareness, persistence, and a clear vision, change is possible and can lead to personal growth and fulfillment.