Why Is It So Hard To Change?

Why Is It So Hard To Change?

Have you ever been filled with such intense determination to change something that you Young tired businesswoman sitting at the table in officethought, “OK, this time I really mean it!”? You started out with some success only to be thwarted and end up quitting. It’s the lament of many of us. What is the deal? Why is it so hard to change? The answer: you’re fighting against solid wiring in your brain called neural pathways. We have the life-long ability to lay down new wiring in our brains but if the new wiring is contradictory to existing wiring, the existing wiring has the first right of refusal…and it doesn’t refuse to be first! That’s what you’re up against when you want to change a behavior, action or reaction.
In order to create any kind of change whether it’s a physical movement (think professional athletes) or a behavior, you have to start by laying down new wiring, new neural pathways, by doing the new action or choosing the new behavior. It’s not natural at all because it’s not something you typically do. As you continue to use the new behavior or movement, you get better and better at it but this takes a lot of repetition and a lot of time. The old pathway doesn’t go away so you will feel almost pulled to it time and time again. If you’re not aware of what you are doing, you will go back to the old way. Sometimes even being aware doesn’t stop us! The more you use the new path, the stronger it gets. The goal is to get the new pathway stronger than the old pathway so it takes over on the first right of refusal contract.
Keep this in mind as you seek to change. It’s incredibly hard! It takes a lot of time and intention. If it’s something you really want, you can do it but you will have to work at it every day. We tend to create change more permanently when we enlist the help of others. So, if you are serious about it enlist the help of a coach, counselor or mentor. Being in a group with others who are on this change journey can be incredibly helpful as well. Going it alone is almost always unsuccessful so set yourself up for success by doing all you can to create and strengthen a new neural pathway!

From Struggling to Strong

From Struggling to Strong

We may not always have this perspective about our struggles, especially when we are going through them! When we get to the other side, this perspective of the challenges we face can Thankful for strugglebring healing versus stagnation. This view will help carry you through the next challenge. As you embrace each challenge in life as an opportunity to grow and develop the mind ‘muscles’ necessary to take life full on, the challenges begin to take on new meaning. Life is hard. It’s going to continue to be hard. The goal is not to avoid the challenges it is to grow through them!

Experiencing The Unpredictable

I laugh when the very thing I write about catches me and spits me out! We planned a once in a lifetime trip for my husband’s mother. She is Norwegian but has never set foot on the soil of Norway…or anywhere outside of the United States. My husband had been promising her he’d take her there someday.  At 81 someday needed to happen soon! So we decided to take the plunge this summer. The itinerary is planned, tickets purchased and passports are ready to go! Then, the unplanned jumped out and smacked us. My father-in-law’s health plummeted and my mother-in-law needs to stay with him. Go figure!
At first I was understanding. Then this nasty poison crept in. I realized we planned this whole trip for her! What!? You mean we’re spending all this money and taking time away from work (which for me with a private practice means zero income) and she isn’t even going? What?! Visualize my red face, temper rising, anger beginning to leak out all over the place!!!
In church a woman prayed, among other things, to speak blessings instead of cursings…healthy conviction began sinking in…well, after I had a little fit! Now I am amazed at my behavior. Really, Karen? You are incredibly self-centered sometimes. I must give myself grace as I always tell my clients and yet, I do hope that one day I can be more concerned about others than myself. Oh, and roll with the unpredictable a little earlier in the process.
 

Predicting The Unpredictable

Predicting The Unpredictable

I don’t really mean we can predict what’s going to happen but we can predict there will be winding, unexpected occurrences in our lives. I’m certain you know what I mean because if you are breathing you have experienced some moments or seasons you did not think were going to happen. Sometimes they can be good things…sometimes they don’t seem good at all. The best job you can imagine…a baby…a broken bone…a new house…a free cup of coffee…an accident…a call from a friend…a broken water pipe…cancer…a puppy… I could go on but I think you get the point. We have no idea what is going to happen in the next second, really. We can guess and sometimes our guesses are spot on but we don’t really know. Anything can happen. And you know what? That is life.
One of the biggest dangers we can get caught in is believing we know what’s going to happen. We are making assumptions and you know what they say when we assume? It makes an ass out of u and me. What’s even worse is we set ourselves up for disappointment. We can slip into an emotional downward spiral because we assumed or predibutterfly on flowerscted and we were wrong. One of the best words of wisdom I’ve heard was from a man named Toby Shope. He was preparing me and others for a journey to Afghanistan. We learned how to dress and act to honor the Afghan culture.
Toby taught us to have a blank slate approach to our experience. Just let the canvas be filled in as I take each step of the journey. This concept has helped me so many times since the day I learned it in 2010.
My daughter Anna, whom I have mentioned in many previous posts, has Cystic Fibrosis and received a lung transplant in 2013. She’s experienced so many set back and challenges throughout her life. Just recently she learned she has rejection. At this point it’s treatable so we are hopeful. Learning of the rejection was a reminder that so much in our lives is out of our hands. The less I cling to what I think should happen the easier it is to accept what is happening…to let the blank parts on my canvas of life be filled in as I take the steps rather than having to waste a ton of energy erasing what I thought would happen and then trying to fit what is happening on top of the erased parts. It’s cleaner if I just let it happen…it’s going to happen anyway.