Do you ever get those moments of thinking clearly and consciously about your life?
With an unexpected burst of motivation we think positively about our goals and we suddenly believe in our ability to achieve them, if you’re lucky this may even spur you on to pull the bike out the shed, grab the sketch book, dust off the guitar, dig out the gardening tools etc.
Unfortunately these moments of conscious, clear thought are often rare and brief experiences. We enjoy it while it lasts and maybe manage to keep it up for a few days, but sooner or later we’re swept back up in the swiftly moving stream which is our daily lives and ideas of goals or progress are - just as swiftly - left behind.
Unfortunately when making changes, there is a resistance we have to fight against in order to stick to these new patterns of behaviour. Our brain will work against us and use tricks such as cravings, tiredness or contentment to change our minds and stop us in our tracks. Often other things in our lives can suddenly become more important and we get pulled away from things we would like to do.
This resistance has an evolutionary cause. The brain loves to stick to old ways and patterns. If you have lived your life a certain way for long enough, then the brain clings to the patterns that lead your life and will not let go so easily. The underlying fear is: “if we change our usual ways, then we might be putting ourselves at risk”, this is a pattern of the primitive area of the brain, a pattern which has most likely kept us safe throughout our evolutionary history at times when looking to venture into unknown (and potentially dangerous!) territories or encountering new (and potentially dangerous!) animals.
Today, this primitive pattern can be encouraging us to do many different things, from going to bed late, to getting angry when we kick our toes, to sitting and watching television in the evenings or even to snacking on crisps and junk food “if the pattern is there then let’s stick with it”.
- When thinking about why we should change there can be endless reasons and this short and simple quote says a lot. If your desired changes are quite significant then this may have sinister connotations and be very blunt. But for me it also speaks a lot of sense in a more mild and gentle manner, when thinking about our smaller goals as well.
When we learn how to reduce our resistance to change, then change becomes much easier. And when change becomes easy, then success also becomes easy and we can start work on achieving our goals both large and small. Time can suddenly be made, energy is suddenly available and those bursts of motivation don’t dwindle and fade like they used to.
The brain can be trained to accept change, just like with any other pattern. The pattern of making positive change is one of the most important patterns you could hope to learn, I’d say it’s right up there with eating and breathing. This is a vital tool that I help my clients take advantage of along the way.
If you’re looking to make change on your own, do it slowly. Decide on a goal and then find the first step towards that goal. Make the first step a small one and try sticking to that first, the brain will be less resistant to a smaller change and when the pattern is formed we can move onto the next small step.
Eventually build yourself up to those big changes and you seriously increase your chances of making new patterns stick and reaching your goals.