Why is it so hard to change?
We all have competing selves and competing commitments. Psychologists call it“cognitive dissonance”; a state of discomfort that we experience when we say we want one thing but do another.
It’s also called “resistance”.
A slim little book that I highly recommend to clients and friends alike is The War of Art- How to Breakhrough the Blocks and Win your Inner Creative Battles” by Steven Pressfield, well known writer of The Legend of Bagger Vance among many others. The focus of this book is how to break loose of the grip that resistance has on our lives.
Resistance wears many disguises. We unconsciously choose from elaborate systems of distractions, denial, addictions, shopping, watching tv, gossiping, chasing yet another “shiny object” and other behaviors that keep us occupied and not feeling our feelings.
What feelings, you may ask?
We go to great lengths to avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings. Truth is that if you are going to make a big change in your life, it’s going to provoke some of your “stuff”. Your “stuff” ( not a clinical term :)) are those feelings of “not enough”- I’m not smart enough, I”m not good enough, I’m not deserving”, I’m overwhelmed etc etc.
Here’s how it happens. You set your goal: ask for more money, launch a new product, increase your company sales, lose weight or stick to an exercise program. You’re excited and motivated to achieve this particular goal. You make an action plan and start taking action. Then a day,or week or two pass and you stop following through with said action steps. You are too busy, tired, pre-occupied, etc etc. Your inner dialogue is beating you up. You give up and the goal gets put on the back burner.
This pattern of starting and not finishing is downright painful. Most people deal with living in inconsistencies, denial, and constantly battling with inner selves.
Though it doesn’t have to be this way.
The first step is to identify your strongest desires and goals AND identify your competing drives. ( You may need to dig a little to understand why you are self-sabotaging)
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, you’ll want to look at why you are where you are right now. How has extra weight served you? Maybe if you are heavier, you stay home more and don’t socialize, keeping you “safe” Perhaps eating is a way for you to calm down your stress. Maybe you associate delicious meals with friendship and connection. There are actually good reasons why we keep doing what we say we want to change. Payoffs can be forms of protection and comfort.
Another good question to ask yourself: What will it cost me if I don’t make this change?
Most of us have goals that we have resistance to. When we name it, we can address it.
By addressing the underlying factors of our goals, we can then create an action plan that will actually work! We can choose differently. We can be successful.
Be sure to revise your goals and priorities to honor both sides of your personality. And believe me, both sides of you will absolutely love you for it!