Updated: Apr 15, 2021
Is in everyone's life, is in everything that surrounds you, it's an unavoidable consequence of life, so if you really meditate about it...Why resisting the flow of life?
As human beings we really tend to see life as a difficult setting that was imposed to us, and whenever we feel comfortable we start doubting that things would stay that way, our reptilian and primitive brain starts playing games with us and here comes the train of thoughts! Even when everything seems to be good, suddenly you start thinking "things won't last as they are", that "it is too good to be true", that you "don't want anything to change", etc...
When in fact, as the famous phrase says "Change is the only thing constant in this world" from Mathematics to Physics, Biology to Psychology, Science to Spirituality in every realm you can name ...Change will always be there!
Many times in my life I like to reflect on this concept, more because what I do and predicate with my example is congruency, many clients come to me and ask me, I want to loose weight but I don't want to be restricted, I want to start doing exercise but I don't have time, I want to change how I feel but I'm in the busiest season of my life, I want to stop the thoughts in my head but I don't have a minute for myself, etc... the list can go on ...
And I dare to say that the biggest illness of this time and of many other seasons throughout humanity, has been the concept of resistance to change..just by listening to the word people usually have two type of reactions: either they start getting angry with the word and whoever is proposing a change, independently on the nature of the change, or people start to get excited about it the start buying things to prepare for the change, they start drawing or making visual boards but as soon as action is required they seem to find an excellent excuse to perform the steps!
Why do we get so reactive when we hear the word change? What are those resistance thoughts based on?
The first reaction when most of the people listen to the word change is.. What is wrong with me? Why do I have to change? I'm fine the way I am!, etc.. so here comes the ego reacting and trying to resist to change as well as the fact that many are very attached to "their ways" sort of saying.
Is so hard for almost everyone to detach for that constructed "self-image" which we usually think it has worked well so far, when in fact change most of the times won't take away your essence, opposed to popular opinion change will make you:
Less prone to become attached to any kind of way;
Test and enjoy more paths which eventually may guide you to your real satisfaction from within;
Help you be more independent of the physical or exterior things to "feel good";
Make you stronger to endure the journey on any challenge you may encounter;
Rewire your brain to adapt faster and become more conscious of what you do and decide in your life!;
Giving up your shield or dialing down your ego is the key for the first line of resistance towards change, in addition to not think that someone is insulting you or threatening you because you're not functional the way you are now!
Can you imagine how your brain responds whenever you say "I don't want to change!" Or "I hate change!" Most of the times that you become attached to any kind of external reward and you keep repeating your comfortable life, your brain keeps turning off paths and networks of novelty because they're not used, so why keep them on? And pretty much it enters a path of saving energy mode where you basically have the primary functions and the limited capacity that you enjoy.
It has been researched and proved that keeping ourselves learning and adapting to new things is what keeps our brain young and agile, instead performing over and over the same things repeatedly in all areas of your life will just, sorry for the words, make you dummier and ironically it will of course create a thicker wall towards change.
That doesn't mean at all that routines or rituals are bad for you, it just means that our life was given to us to flow with change, because as you can witness everyday in nature is that anything stays the same and all that we say around us changes, so why would you be the exception? Or why creating a dumb resistance towards it? Unless it is really harmful for you and consciously evaluating the pros and cons then it's ok to resist some kind of changes!
Nevertheless as we're discussing here a positive change so that you can enjoy and savor a different type of life, the harmful part is not applicable!
Executive function refers to a suite of higher-level cognitive skills and capacities that generally promote successful human functioning. Attention, task switching, working memory, and inhibitory control are usually described as executive functions (1).
Executive function has three characteristic features: it is effortful, operates consciously, and engaged in service of novel goals as opposed to rote or overlearned ones. Effortful means that they feel hard and must be completed serially It appears that the brain has dedicated regions not only to executing control but also allocating that control to various tasks (1).
A strong action and word that will allow your change to last and excel is execution, as you can read by research, your ability to execute is given by the fact that you put yourself in situations where you require action! And as many examples of nature, whenever we witness action around us, we can witness life! We can trust that a higher level of consciousness and most likely a higher power will be helping us and guiding our way towards what we want to achieve!
Additionally, creating a sequence of steps to get to your desired goal is what will ensure that you make it real! Just be careful to follow each of the steps with movement, with effort, with action! Not just with positive wishes and visuals but sitting again in the couch so the Universe/God helps you to achieve the things, because that is not the way it works!
If you committed to change then respect your word and honor it by doing what is required to produce a new neural pathway in your brain, to produce an epigenetic change in your genes, to open up the path towards a tunnel that will connect you with that higher power that will only awaken within you when you engage!
Let me add a real story, that we have heard and witness so many times with some people around us, so that things get more grounded and easier to grasp!
A woman that some years ago contacted a nutritionist to start changing, was really eager to change, supposedly willing to do it and of course convinced that she needed the change. Her life was in a deep mess, sort of saying, because in reality nothing that harmful or dangerous happened to her.
She was overweight with at least 20-30 pounds (10-15 kg) over her normal healthy weight, her hormones where completely disrupted, therefore her mood swings were present in all her interactions, she just broke up with her boyfriend, she was overwhelmed by debts and she was almost on the verge of throwing her business over the board!
So by this brief description you would think that she really needed to change and she wanted to do it!
However when she started with the program and the steps to become responsible of simple things such as performing short sessions of exercise, making at least at the beginning small changes to her diet and also giving herself time to reflect and lower the stress, that's when all the resistances showed up, she started justifying herself because she didn't do the exercise, because she behaved "bad" with her diet and fall again with processed food because she didn't have time, she of course didn't do any reflection and continued with the stressful lifestyle, she didn't even destined some time to reflect because she was too busy, and to end it all she missed at least 3 of the 5 sessions she had programmed she just attended twice!
Of course it was pretty clear that the reasons or the will to change where probably not the right ones and she needed to get a deeper perspective on why she wanted to change and have more clarity on why she was resisting so hard to the change that so deeply desired!
After some months she assisted to a clinic were she received a bariatric surgery, she supposedly was placed with a psychological support and she finally manage to change the main thing she wanted..her weight and her love life!
However as we all know those stories, and we also know that shortcuts mostly never end up well! She found another boyfriend, she looked better in terms of her weight but she didn't acquire any knowledge of why or what has happening inside of her, in spite of the therapy, because a few months after she ended up asking for a loan and "starting another business" without even liquidating the previous debt, so as you can imagine the end of the story, which happened just after some months of the joyful state provided by the shortcuts, she ended up "having to exercise" because if she didn't do it she was going to gain weight again, which by the way didn't last more than three months, she spent a lot of money on her surgery, she increased her debt with the new business, and finally she replicated the story with the new boyfriend!
Stories like this one, are more abundant than we might think, with women or with men, of course this is not dependent on the gender, but by reading it we can become more aware on where and what happened with her as well as also witnessing that when our motive for change is not set in the proper way and is impulsed by "trivial passing moments" to label them, we will end up either resisting to the real change or worse looking for quick or "hacking" alternatives as now they purposely name them to add them a fancy word! Which only means taking a shortcut but with a touch of marketing and inverse psychology to lure people to an easier solution that sadly will only last a few months in the best case scenario.
What to do then to consciously embrace change and be able to sustain it?
In an era of instantaneous rewards and quick results, each day is even harder to understand or grasp the concept of endurance, of discipline, of constancy and of course repetition.
However that's how our brain works, as stated above whenever you engage in a changing process and put some effort into it, you're allowing your brain to wake up from the saving mode and start demanding more of its capacity that has been waiting for you to decide!
Also maybe this kind of perspective will allow to see things more crude but real, you really don't have many choices if we are strict to the concept of change, if you decide to reject change because it is to hard or demanding, or you don't have time or you are just to busy, life by itself will make you arrive to the stage where now "need to change".
Speaking of a healing journey, let's say you have a sedentary lifestyle, you also eat pretty bad because you don't have time and on top of that you're always busy and don't have time for yourself because you have to survive earning money to pay your "cool lifestyle" which ironically is making you sick as well as piling up your debt with the credit card!
If with all this anxious lifestyle and many times desperate to find a solution, you find yourself lured into one the abundant shortcuts offered with fancy words and videos and you decide to pay so that "this amazing remedy or hacking technique" help you to change you will be just putting yourself under a lot more pressure, probably if the person you hire is not even prepared to help you, you might end up sick or with permanent damage to your health and it will be just a "band aid" that will last less than the time it will take for you to recover from the damage.
So, wherever you see it, saving money or saving time to change is not at all the best choice to start the path, however before engaging in any kind of decision, if you really allow some time in your tight agenda to at least make a list of the kind of change you want and the why, you will find that a lot more insightful and productive in order to then be ready to chose with whom and what type of program you require.
You will arrive a lot faster to the stage of embracing the idea of change before anticipating yourself to decide by desperation.
If you even allow yourself to go deeper and question what kind of excuses and resistance explanations you usually use to avoid the path of change, you will be able to awake your consciousness on why or even who installed some kind of thought that is preventing you to change.
Many times during these moments of reflection and questioning we find ourselves many answers that turned out to be someone else's thoughts or stories and we just bought them because they were installed in us when were a child or we were to naive to question them!
Extensive cognitive processes and neural resources are dedicated to gating which information enjoys the focus of attention and which must be ignored. In this way, executive function generally, and attention specifically, play a key role in how open or closed we are to new ideas and perspectives during goal setting and goal striving (1).
In addition to feeling effortful and occupying conscious attention, a third characteristic property of executive function is that it specializes in novel tasks. It enables humans to do things that we’ve never done before. In fact, the basic role of the entire prefrontal cortex has been described broadly as coordinating behavior to achieve novel goals. The ability of our prefrontal cortex to plan and execute novel behaviors is one of the defining characteristics of humans and one that sets us apart from nearly all other animals. However, this ability is not unlimited. In light of the limited capacity of attention and working memory, the prefrontal cortex has a second function that is nearly as critical: to learn to automate novel behaviors to the point that they no longer take up precious space in consciousness (1).
Research on this process of habit formation shows that as a particular behavior in a particular behavior is repeatedly rewarded, the systems that control it shift from the dorsomedial to the ventral and dorsolateral aspects of the striatum. This shift is in part supported by the differential connectivity in these parts of the striatum, with the dorsomedial more strongly connected to the prefrontal and parietal cortices (involved in attention and working memory) and the other two parts of the striatum more strongly connected to the sensory and motor cortices. That the process of routinizing behavior has a robust pathway embedded within some of the oldest structures in the brain speaks to the evolutionary importance of offloading effortful mental activities from the cortex as early and efficiently as possible. Thus, these regions are key for habit formation (1).
As stated above, novelty and new paths is most likely the answer to install a new habit in ourselves and more importantly to be able to sustain it, that is why the "questioning and embracing phase" is key to arrive to this step.
When your brain finds relevance in the new behavior that you want to install, that's when you open up the gate to raise the priority of that new goal or achievement you're pursuing, so if you want to skip steps in order to get to the results, or you want to accelerate change, I'm sorry to tell you that probably you might change but sadly it won't last and it will just wear off with time leading you to feel more depressed, unmotivated and powerless.
Instead, if you allow your brain to try a new path, if you allow your consciousness to be raised, if you question your resistances and if you find yourself on the path of designing your own change, that process can only lead you to one result ..A stronger commitment with you, an owning process that will give you fuel and will at the same time detach you from the ego excuses and finally it will help you visualize and install the idea that you are deciding your change for yourself and for your greater good as well as assuring that it will be a change that will become a habit, ergo it will be a lasting change and your new higher way of living and being in this world enjoying more joyfully, healthy and savoring more every bit of your life!
In summary, change is always with us, is the air we breath, is in nature, is in animals, is in our genes, is in our core DNA and is the only constant thing in life, nothing stays the same, everything is always changing, you just have to awake yourself to open your eyes more and witness how nature and life is wise and it adapts to the environment becoming stronger and more efficient! As I can imagine you want to be, if you're questioning any part of your life that you feel that needs to change!
So, stop looking to blame, designing excuses, investing time in the resistance egoistic thoughts and start embracing, flowing, questioning and deciding by yourself what needs to be changed in your life and why it needs to be changed!
1. Berkman E. T. (2018). The Neuroscience of Goals and Behavior Change. Consulting psychology journal, 70(1), 28–44.