Change Is A Messy Process

Most people have a hard time accepting the need to change and find it even harder to actually make meaningful life changes. Change is scary. The natural fear of the unknown and uncertainty that comes with it is enough to make most people just remain the same. Change requires people to be uncomfortable and that is a feeling most people will not seek out. It takes strength and courage to do anything different or unfamiliar, because unfamiliarity breeds discomfort, and the more unfamiliar “it” is, the more discomfort we feel. Importantly, courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is acknowledging your fear and doing what you need to do in spite of it.

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It’s not unusual for people to stay in painful, unhealthy situations, sometimes for years or decades, even when they know they need to make changes. They become comfortable with the pain. Certain unhealthy conditions become somewhat normal.

How can pain be comfortable?

  • They are familiar with the pain of their specific situation. They know exactly how it works and what the results will be. The expectation of the pain brings no surprises.

  • There is a certain predictability and comfort in it. Most people become motivated and begin to move toward making major life changes only when the pain of staying the same outweighs the fear of doing something different.

Use the fear of change as an invitation to practice self-compassion and self-forgiveness. And when we do, self-criticism and feelings of failure or of not being good enough soften and fade away. When that happens, we can cultivate an attitude of acceptance and loving awareness toward ourselves which deepens our capacity to make progress.

Principles to remember when attempting change in any area:

  1. Change is a messy process of trial, error, and experimentation.

  2. Change involves taking risks.

  3. Mistakes should be made and accepted as a part of the process. They are opportunities to learn and adjust.

  4. Change often feels worse before it feels better.

  5. Change involves failure. Failure is only information. Even when attempts at change don’t yield the desired outcome, they provide valuable information that can be integrated into future attempts at change.