When we’re considering our options for changing our lives, it’s important that we not overcomplicate it.
Many people get intimidated by the process of life change because they think change necessarily needs to uproot them in profound ways that they’re not quite sure they can handle.
Life change usually doesn’t work like that.
More often than not, life change comes as a result of changing our habits— and, most often, we change our habits bit by bit, not all at once.
The reason for this isn’t because we don’t DESIRE profound change. Many of us DO desire profound change, even as we have mixed feelings about profound change actually happening in our lives.
No, the reason for this is rather more basic: our lives are the way they are for reasons.
We have the tastes, preferences, and habits we do for reasons. They serve specific functions and purposes in our lives.
They’ve been conditioned by the people, circumstances, and needs of our specific lives and stories.
Put another way: our lives look, feel, and function in certain ways because of who we are.
My life looks, feels, and functions different from yours. Your life looks, feels, and functions different from the lives of your friends. I’m not talking about the specific “stuff” in your life— I’m taking about the patterns, the feel, the vibe.
If we try to rush in and change these patterns that have been established in our lives because of the specific people we are and the specific people and situations we have in our lives, those changes are going to feel more than different— they’re going to feel alien.
We need to change our lives bit by bit because, in order for changes to stick they need to feel at least somewhat familiar
They need to feel like US.
They need to fit in with the lives we’ve already established, the lives we already know how to live, the lives that already make sense to us.
Don’t get me wrong: you can, over time, completely change, completely overhaul your life, if you want to.
But if you realistically want to change your life, you have to do it in such a way that is conducive with the patterns you’ve already established— or else your life will reject those changes as surely as physical bodies reject organs that they sense are not theirs.
A misstep many people make in trying to change their lives is trying to change everything, in profound ways, all at once.
They figure that because specific aspects of their lives aren’t working, because specific habits need to be changed, that the whole of their lives necessarily need to be overhauled— and don’t get me wrong, I completely get that impulse.
When our lives aren’t going well, there absolutely is a temptation to say, “Screw it all!” and chuck the entire thing.
Our brains, however, won’t let us do that.
If we try to change too much, too fast, our brains will go into open, active rebellion against the changes we’re attempting to pull off.
If we try to strong-arm our brains and bodies into completely new, unfamiliar patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving, they will scramble for the comfort of the familiar…even if the familiar is part of what isn’t working.
All of which is to say: when you’re looking to make a change, take into consideration the context of your life as a whole.
Ask yourself: am I asking my brain and my body to make too large of a leap, too fast?
In my enthusiasm for changing what’s wrong, am I forcing myself into a situation here my brain is gong to freak out and frantically scramble backwards for the familiar?
This is why I am such an enthusiastic advocate for changing one, teeny, tiny thing at a time.
Change one teeny, tiny, habit at a time.
Then change another. Then another.
And remembr: always, always, always give your body and your brain time and space to learn and sink into the new habit after you adopt it.
Give your body and brain time to make that new habit familiar.
Get a sense of how that new habit is going to fit into your routine, how that habit gels with the vibe of the life you’ve already established.
I know, I know, you want to change as much as possible, as fast as possible. It can be frustrating to have to adopt new patterns bit by bit, especially when you’ve realized how much of your life needs to be overhauled.
But I’m telling you: if you want those new habits to stick— really stick— take your already existing life and patterns into account. Make allowances for the leaps you’re asking your brain and your body to make— and do things to make those leaps manageable.
Want to change your life a lot? Change your life a little.
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