Changing is Not Easy, Even if You Want to. But Why?

February 3, 2018

Changing is not easy. In fact, there are some aspects where it’s not possible and, sometimes, not necessary either. There is no model of a perfect human being that we all have to look like.

Besides, the concept of “normal” is a very relative matter. Those who depart from the norm are often the ones who make the greatest contributions to humanity.

However, there are indeed aspects where we can, and should, make modifications. They’re issues that limit our life or make us suffer.

It’s not about trying to be like other people. The reasonable thing is simply to look for ways of being and acting that benefit us most.

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy”.

-Anatole France-

Nor is it about transforming our personality. Rather, what we should look for is how to identify things that cause us discomfort.

Although changing is not easy, if we put it within a realistic framework, it becomes possible. It’s also important to take away some factors acting as obstacles. Here are some of them…

Changing is not easy when there is no feedback

Many times we’re aware that certain behavior is not appropriate. For example, reacting impulsively, smoking or being too sedentary. In that case, there is consciousness of it, but no awareness of the issue. That’s why changing is not easy.

A good way to motivate change is to make the consequences of wrong behaviors fully visible. Let’s look at an example.

People know they should wash their hands before eating. However, many do not. If they applied a dye that allowed them to see the bacteria in detail, surely they would.

Do something like that. Think in detail about the effects of your negative behavior. Make a list of them and don’t hold back on descriptions.

Then review that list frequently. And don’t stop searching for new harmful effects of that behavior. In short, face full-on the consequences of those aspects you want to change.


Lack of motivation or support

However negative a behavior may be, if we maintain it, it’s because it provides us with some benefit. The problem is that the benefit is usually in the short-term, while the negative consequences are only seen in the long-term. That’s why it’s so easy to ignore how much harm it’s doing.

Thus, a lot of times we need motivation and support to keep up our desire to change. It’s good to communicate our desire to people close to us. Ask them to help us remember the importance of our change. Not for them to pressure us, but for them to encourage us.

It’s also good to practice self-motivation. The old trick of rewarding ourselves always works. Give yourself something each time you meet a goal. Recognize your effort. Changing is not easy, but few things give as much satisfaction as achieving it.

change is not easy

Identify triggers and alternatives

We all have routines that sometimes make change difficult. They’re associated with the behavior that we want to modify and make getting where we want harder.

Routines induce us to revert to our usual negative behavior. For example, say you decide to exercise an hour every morning, but you’re in the habit of going to bed late. First of all, you’re making it harder than it needs to be.

Other times the things that “trigger” our negative behavior are more subtle. For example, let’s say you leave clutter everywhere.

It gets in the way of the people you live with. It’s a source of conflict and arguments. But you’re disorganized because you have some degree of anxiety and it always seems like you don’t have time.

In this last example, the background “trigger” is that sense of haste. It leads us to believe that you don’t have two minutes to put something in its place. In this and other cases, the important thing is to identify the problem and possible alternative solutions.

How can this anxiety be eliminated? How can you manage to be more orderly without feeling that you are “losing” valuable time?

a face ripped up

Changing is not easy, mainly because we will always find resistance, whether conscious or unconscious. Maybe we don’t want to change because we haven’t evaluated the benefits of modifying our behavior.

Or because we’re victims of a rigid way of thinking. We haven’t found alternate behaviors to replace those that must be modified.

Nothing guarantees that we’ll get what we want, but if we work consciously, we’ll improve our chances of making the change we really want.