With the new year, our agendas are full of new resolutions. Losing some weight, learning a new language, starting to look for a better job – you name it.
We start with some promising ideas of how to make these resolutions happen in hope of personal evolution, but conveniently, we soon discover plenty of excuses of how not to follow them through: not enough time, too busy or too tired, etc.
This direct lack of change, which we knew would impact our lives in positive ways, makes us feel very frustrated and unhappy, which results in us quickly resorting back to our standard non-evolving routine.
Although gravitating back to this stable comfortable zone is easy, the simple matter remains, doing this will not lead to a better version of us which is really what we all wish for – personal evolution and certainly not sabotage of this.
So, what to do; defeated but still content within the comfort zone, is this the correct way? I don’t think so. To trick your mind out of this state of limbo is to understand how it works.
Understanding our minds to start changing
The first steps to successful new projects in our life are to simply ask the following questions:
- What do I want?
- Why do I want it?
- What would I need to do/lose to achieve it?
Simple enough but realising it can be a different story, so why? Our mind is routinely mechanical with its own defence mechanisms designated to protect the very reality that it has created.
When you create a habit, your mind will exercise this habit to continue happening as regularly as you have programmed it to occur. The moment you attempt to overwrite this habit with another one, your mind will immediately resist changing this comfortable routine, this comfort zone.
Your comfort zone can be under attack
The mind acknowledges this change as an attack and rolls out the ‘change defence force’ armed to the teeth with every kind of excuse to sabotage this attacking change.
Unless you are prepared you will not even be able to recognise this subtle autoimmune response unless, of course, you have a great way to interact with your subconscious mind and act accordingly.
Sadly, the reality is that this preparedness to accept change is not the common trend and most of us will find it as a threat, an impossibility, a feat, whatever, but clearly, more than it should – what some of us labelled it ‘a real challenge’, where some succeed and others fail.
Recognising the autoimmune ‘change defence force’ response
This self-sabotage will present itself in different ways, some of the most common ones being:
- Excuses. Hard to recognise as we so easily allow them to kick in, driven by a subconscious response mechanism. The final objective of this mechanism is to avoid the uncertainty of possibly not being able to face failure, the feeling of not being adequate to these new challenges that our achievement of change might bring or even the reality of an extra effort above what you already have to put into your day.
- Diluted efforts. Starting a lot of things at once without finishing anything, an excellent way to departmentally dilute the specifically required effort to achieve the one specific change goal. This is a very common habit as it prevents the person from facing this very specific change goal as we have already mapped the escape stepping stones to jump onto as a distraction for leaving the failure behind us. Sadly, this simple dilution response is a great exit, away from what we know will require real effort and courage to combat the change challenges and what would happen once we achieve them with the subsequent unknown consequences we would have to face with the change.
- Procrastination. Changing is not easy and it can be difficult to follow through with this required commitment. Sometimes, some of our well-established habits must be reviewed, improved or even completely replaced. So what do we do? We choose to do anything but address this specific change goal and instead we resort to any and all of the rest of the things we feel comfortable with because that’s easier and probably more attractive to us.
- Perfectionism. A combination of procrastination and excuses. You’re so busy planning and half performing the change, procrastinating rather on your being ‘perfectionist’ than performing the change that you result in never getting there – what a ’perfect’ excuse.
It is important to stop and take your time to think deeply about these mechanisms before starting a trip to nowhere and wasting your precious time.
- Recognise that your mind will resist any change and you will have to tackle this first, perhaps swiftly or progressively step-by-step. Ultimately, only you have the capability to recognise your defence practices within the inner workings of your mind and change them to change your direction.
- It is never too late. You can stop what you are doing at any time and change it for something better. Be fair and honest to yourself and know that you should never feel any guilt or shame to make a U-turn in your life.
- Study a degree, get a good job, start a new hobby, join the gym, find a person to marry, have a couple of children, but most of all be happy and never stop changing, never stop evolving.
- You belong to you and you are yours. Embrace life and change with it, every step of the way. Pursue your dreams and overwrite any redundant stagnated programming of your life. Visualise yourself achieving it but past that point of achieving it to the point of living it. See the feeling that can it provoke in your mind as a motivational force and then charter your course.
Natalia Obregón is the manager of Chat2us, a new online counselling service with multilingual and multicultural therapists to help you perform the best version of yourself.