Why it's so Hard to Change.

Author: Jeanene Smith, LMFT-S, LPC

New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep when the weather is cold, the gym is far away and the cookie box wielding minions of doom commonly known as Girl Scouts are still laying out on the coffee table where I left them last night. What really happens to those promises to change? Does one misstep begin a shame spiral or does the action of change idea never start due to fear?

Why Is change so scary?

What is your first reaction when you start to think about a major change you want to make in your life? Do you scream "NO!" Do your arms magically cross, your forehead scowl while declarations of “I hate change” are made?

When did change become something negative instead of exciting, adventurous and plain old fun? Was it learned at home or was it the result of a change that didn’t go well? As toddlers we were constantly faced with changes, and we were encouraged to embrace them. What if, instead of reinforcing screaming no’s, crossed arms and declarations, the first thought would be YES! The first idea would be “that’s interesting?“ What if your body's first reaction, was to lean in to change? All life on earth is constantly changing and evolving, what makes humans resist? Is it fear?

Our bodies are constantly changing.

When John Mayer sang, ‘Your Body is a Wonderland” he wasn’t kidding. The heart pumps on average 72 beats a minute. Every second two million billion bits of information move around the brain.

A team at Harvard in 2014 successfully achieved brain-to- brain verbal communication in humans for the first time. Not using a voice box, but just two brains. When the body senses fear either by a visual cue or thought impulse, breathing accelerates, goosebumps may appear, heart rate increases and in extreme conditions stress can override the control of the bladder.

As we sense fear, we turn inward and assess whether we need to take action. So changing requires the courage to take a risk, a deep breath, a small step forward, and the beginning of a changed attitude that walks toward change rather than remaining resistant. By doing so, you make a fool of fear and change transforms from a mountain to a small hill.

Change will happen without your permission.

While we resettle the mind with new thoughts, breathing deeply and pushing forward, we  also battle our egos. An ego person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. No one wants to look or feel stupid, foolish or fail. But if the idea of change leaves a cold sweat happening because in 2nd grade you peed your pants in front of the class and vowed to avoid all change, will you avoid opportunities that could change your life because of fear?

Many of us are victims of change we didn’t want. An accident, a death, a loss. Each of those change us forever. But are we courageous enough to not let that one moment of anguish shadow hundreds of other moments of joy, laughter and accomplishment?

How to take a first step toward change

I recently had to embrace a new change: I moved my full time practice to part time, and I joined a new group of younger therapists.


What if I'm too old for them? What if I get embarrassed because I don’t know all the new technology they use? On day two I was shown a new trick to my iPhone. I have never used anything other than Apple but I didn’t know that one. I had to laugh at my ego, breath through feeling foolish, tell my mind that I may not know all the new, but I am still smart and good at what I do.

Then I took a forward step into my new office.

To schedule an appointment with Jeanene Smith, call 512-578-8255.

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Jeanene Smith, LMFT-S, LPC