4 Reasons Why You Resist Change


I have to be honest, I think this post is really a reminder for myself. I've been going through a lot of major changes in my life since 2018 and it seems that the changes are becoming more frequent, and lately, a bit more intense. Does anyone else feel that?


As many of you know, I absolutely love studying all kinds of healing modalities and systems: psychology, energy healing, sound healing, astrology, human design, etc. These different ways of looking at the world (and humans) have really helped me accept change and I've come to really understand its benefits:


Change means personal growth!

Change invites new and exciting beginnings!

Change allows you to expand your life!


However, there is a total flip side to that coin as well.


Change is hard!

Change is scary!

Change makes me wanna dig my heels in deeper and stand my ground even MORE!


As a Joy Guide, I will always ask you to reframe more towards the optimistic end of the spectrum, but I will never ever tell anyone to ignore the harsh reality of change. Why?


I personally know that there are no shortcuts for an authentically aligned and joyful life. Deep and meaningful change requires a committed journey towards facing our darkest, most fearful, & pessimistic parts.

Perhaps this is why (even after I've dedicated years of studying, testing, and implementing tools) finding the joy in change can still feel like a destructive, painful hot mess. I feel like it should get easier and easier, but sometimes it hits like a shock that even the most prepared person finds hard to survive.


So what's that all about??


To make myself (and hopefully you) feel better, I decided to gather up my old journals and research to remind myself of why humans resist change:

 

1.Our brains are wired to protect us from change


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From a biological perspective, our brains are apparently wired to resist change. This article quoted Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a licensed clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist, saying


"From an evolutionary standpoint we develop these neural pathways to adapt to live, so when we encounter change our brain shifts into a protective mode. It has to use energy from reserves and it doesn't know, from that evolutionary standpoint, if the change is good for us or not. It doesn’t know if this change is a one-time deal or whether it needs to re-establish a routine. ‘Will it hurt me?’ A lot of red flags go up.”


To me, this evolutionary perspective makes a ton of sense. If I was a Cavewoman and I saw that my Cavehusband never came home from hunting, this change would send a shit ton of red flags off in my brain to be careful and possibly look out for any saber-toothed tigers that ate him. (Yes, this is where my mind went). So, of course, your brain would try to protect you. It was clearly a matter of life and death back then!


Today, if we are lucky enough to not be in dire survival situations, you would think that we wouldn't react in a way that felt like our lives were on the line. However, that's not necessarily the case. Our biological response could still be predisposed to experiencing change in this way. Therefore, it does make sense that sometimes even seemingly small change can trigger an emotional reaction that feels a bit extreme. Awww, you have the best intentions, brain <3.


2.Change creates uncertainty and we fear the unknown


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Just like the Cavewoman vs. Saber-Toothed Tiger situation, change can shift our brains into protection mode as well as cause gut-wrenching fear. Change can be downright terrifying because it means that we could be facing a situation that leads to the "not-so-great" unknown. And if you're a routine-oriented or really risk-averse individual (I'm looking at you, dad), change feels like the ultimate enemy.


In this article, clinical psychologist, Carla Marie Manly, PHD said:


"From an atavistic [aka ancient] perspective, our brains are hardwired to prefer routine and consistency. Our ancestors preferred constancy as they inherently knew that change often brought a lack of safety." The article also went on to share, "From a mental health perspective, things are no different in today’s world. Manly notes that our mental well-being tends to fare best when we have structure and routine in our everyday lives."


So if you're someone who thrives in the security of knowing what's going to happen every day of the week, it makes sense (especially if you're suddenly forced to change) that you could be gripped by fear. It could be a lot deeper than just wanting to make sure you eat at the exact time each day or hating surprise parties. It's about the need to feel safe... so please don't judge yourself for that!


And in more severe cases, fear of the unknown becomes an actual phobia. I researched what the phobia name is for "fear of the unknown" and it surprised me. It's called XENOPHOBIA. I've heard the term used today to relate to racism because 'xenos' means stranger or foreigner in Greek; therefore, xenophobia is a fear of strangers or foreigners, but apparently the original way to use the term was to denote something much broader. According to Healthline, "the original meaning includes anything and anyone that's unfamiliar or unknown."


If you have fear of the unknown it can actually manifest as physical symptoms and can also impact every day life decisions. This VeryWellMind article had a comprehensive list of signs you may have "fear of the unknown". For ease, I've rewritten them here for you:

  • You feel stuck or unhappy in a situation yet avoid creating positive change

  • You stay in a failing relationship despite wanting to leave

  • You do not strive for an ideal career when you are miserable in your current one

  • You have extreme anxiety over what is going to happen in your future

  • You have an inability to accept life changes that are within or outside of your control

  • You refuse to stray from an everyday routine because you're uncertain of what will happen if you don't stick to it

  • You reject invitations to events, celebrations, family, or friends homes

  • You frequently feel nauseous or have indigestion when you think about change

  • You experience heart palpitations when you think about change

  • You find yourself shaking, sweating, or trembling at the thought of a life change

*** For the record, I'm sharing this information in order to encourage you to become more self aware, more educated, and most importantly, more compassionate with yourself as you GROW through change. If you read this list and worry you may have this phobia, please reach out to your therapist, psychologist, or licensed medical professional to investigate further ***


3.Change requires letting go, particularly of control


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For me change was, and sometimes still is, extremely challenging because I have a hard time letting go. If I was Rose on the Titanic I would've died on that door (that could have fit them both btw!) because I would have NEVER, EVER let go of Jack's dead popsicle hand. Honestly, what does "I'll never let go, Jack" even mean if you actually let go??? My teenage self has yet to get over that one.


I was also taught at a young age to persevere, to "never give up", and to take my commitments seriously, which doesn't sound all that bad, right? Although I still value these ideals, I have actually found that they can be rather toxic, particularly in situations where I was meant to let go.


For those of you reading this who have healthy boundaries, a strong sense of independence, are unafraid to speak up for yourself, or are a "Jesus take the wheel" type, this bullet point may not entirely resonate with you. However, for those of you who have struggled in the aforementioned departments and beyond, I GET YOU because I am you!


Growing up and even to this day, I can have such a hard time letting go because I'm still working on healthy boundaries, recovering from codependency, understanding and communicating my feelings and needs, and most challenging, surrendering control. In my past, I stayed in toxic relationships for far too long because I didn't want to change the "likable" and "agreeable" person I worked so hard to become. My inner drill Sargent would yell at me for even thinking of quitting and my inner perfectionist refused to let me let go of control. "We" (me and my multiple inner voices) had a reputation and a responsibility to others to uphold! So, I stayed. I stayed in horrible jobs, relationships, and situations even when my gut told me not to and even when my body got sick over it. I was trying to control my house of cards while in a hurricane.


But it makes sense now why I was soooooo resistant to change in spite of everything inside me wanting something different for my life. Change required me to let go of my comfort zones, my "friends", my job, and even my former self, which loops back to resistance reason #2: fear of the unknown!


Who am I if I let go of everything that has anchored my identity?

What am I if I don't have control??

And without that constant certainty, of course, change felt terrifying. There seemed to be no safety net in sight.


So if you're at this point on your journey, I completely understand. Letting go is one of the hardest parts of change in my opinion. However, I can say from personal experience, when you make the commitment to change, it is absolutely worth it. Also, control is a bit overrated ;-).


4.Change can mean endings, and most of the time, endings are no fun


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Ah, yes, endings. When it comes to extremely boring lectures taught by slow and monotonous voices (Bueller... Bueller...) or suffering from dysentery on the Oregon Trail, there could never be a more resounding "yes" to endings.


Please. Make it. Stop.


But when it comes to ending chapters in your life that are meaningful to you, change can be one of the saddest things on the planet. Possibly even sadder than those Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials *cryyyy*.


Personally, I have gone through many types of endings in my life. There's the student endings: graduating from schools. There's also relationship endings: breaking up with a boyfriend or friend(s). Then there's the unexpected endings: death of loved ones or pets... or chosen endings: quitting a job or a bad habit. Out of all of these types of finales, I would have to say the unexpected endings were the hardest because I had no control over anything (I mean, duh. See #3). But, I wanna make a case for endings, particularly unexpected ones.


So much of the growth I have made over the years, especially before becoming a Joy Guide, was forced on me. The spiritual community likes to call that "divine intervention" because you usually don't have a say on how life unfolds. It just... happens. My human self would not necessarily call all of those experiences "divine"... I'd maybe swap some of those out with "traumatic" or "oh no, not again" interventions because I would be lying out my ass if I said those endings felt #blessed. In fact, a lot of my most transformative endings felt more like curses because it was as if the Universe was playing some cruel joke on me. But what ultimately happened at the end of all of my endings?? CHANGE. And after looking through my journals, every single one of those changes led to something amazing in my life that I would never change. Dang, my brain is stubborn! LOL


I guess what I'm trying to say is that endings can be super challenging, but they are also starts of something new. When you're going through major life changes, a part or parts of you are dying and that's not only natural, but necessary for you to grow and begin fresh. Like my Panda Express fortune cookie says: Endings are also beginnings.


So in a lot of ways, subconsciously we could correlate change = endings = death of the self, and when it's put that way, I have total and utter compassion for myself for why I resist change. That seems logical!

 

As always, I hope that my share gives you some comfort as to why you may want life to stay exactly the same or why you're still stuck in your rut. It's definitely a tough road and it can feel soooo exhausting, but I think the adventure is worth it.


If you want any support finding your roadmap to joy and feel ready to make some major changes in your life, I will happily be your Joy Guide...


From my heart to yours,


June





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