How much of motherhood is change? It’s practically the essence of motherhood, isn’t it? From the time our children are born, they’re changing, and we are, too. But sometimes it’s difficult — change is hard; it’s scary and it’s easy to give up and give in. But fortunately, we have regular contributor Coach Julie, R.N. to help us make sense of why it’s so hard and what we can do about it.
By learning how best to approach making changes, we stand a better chance of being successful at making positive long-term changes that will stick and serving as an example to our children in teaching them about achieving goals through making changes, too.
Why does change have to be so darn hard? We struggle to lose weight, get in shape, eliminate debt, and stay (happily) married. Health issues such as heart disease, depression, addiction and obesity — preventable illnesses — are rampant. Why is it so hard to change?
Change IS hard. And it’s hard because, as humans, our brains are wired a certain way. When we understand how the mind works, we can use this knowledge to make change a little easier and stop battling with ourselves. We can use our minds to work WITH us instead of AGAINST us. We can learn to become the master of our thoughts and emotions instead of being at their mercy.
H.A.R.D.© is an acronym that stands for how we are enslaved by our Habits and Attachments and struggle with Resistance and Discouragement. In order to change, we must face these functions of the mind. It’s not that our brains are purposely trying to hurt us and hold us back; it’s just how the mind operates. They are games the mind plays with us. Accept it. Learn about them and then use the success strategies to help you to play these mind games and WIN!
We are wired to keep things the same, to create routines and structure to get things done. Habits allow us to function well and to manage multiple things throughout the course of the day. Every time you try something new, you have to concentrate — all of your attention is required to learn the new activity, be it a new route to work or learning to type. After much practice, you can perform the task without thinking about it. It has become habit.
In the process, thousands of neurological connections have formed in your brain in order to make this activity ‘automatic’. You now know how to type without paying attention, for example, and perform the task subconsciously. In other words, you don’t need to focus on where to put your fingers and which key represents what letter. You just type.
Those neurological connections will need to be replaced in order to change to something new. It requires consistent attention and persistent action, something most people do not do well. When we are learning something for the first time, those neurological connections don’t exist; but when you want to change how you have been doing something, that’s when it becomes a challenge because you are ‘hard-wired’ to think and act a certain way.
We cling to people, places and things. Most people have a difficult time letting go and going with the flow of life. We want and expect things (and people) to last forever. We hold on tight to our youth as our bodies age, our ideas even when we are wrong, and our relationships even when we are very unhappy. To detach would require we accept things as they are, not as we wish they were. We hurt ourselves greatly when we hold onto our ideas about how things ‘should’ be as opposed to how they are.
Emotions are the key to identifying attachments. The harder you fight, the more stubborn you are, the more attached you are.
Resistance shows up in many ways including self-doubt, judgment, procrastination, and excuses. Resistance is FEAR. Identifying your fear is the first step. Notice the behavior pattern such as making excuses or procrastinating, then name the fear so you can tame it. This is just another way the mind plays with you and keeps you stuck. As you begin to change or even think of changing something, you are threatening the status quo. Adrenaline is released just as if you were in real danger causing the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ reaction. And you respond with resistance.
But you are bigger than your fear. You just have to learn some tools to stand your ground.
We get discouraged when things don’t progress as quickly as we’d like them too. We may have unrealistic expectations for just how long something will take. We may think it will take a few weeks to find a new job when it can take many months. Our relationship with time causes us to become frustrated. We are impatient. And if we are not very good at acknowledging what success we do experience along the way, we will quit even though we may have come quite far.
Change is H.A.R.D. © because we succumb to what we know and give up. It just seems easier than to fight for what we want. Motivation is crucial for success and for continued progress toward our goals.
To be successful at making a change in your life, befriend your mind. Understand a little bit about how it works so that you can learn how to use it to assist you in creating the kind of life you love and enjoying the progress. Your mind is a tool for you to master and use to your advantage.
Bio: Julie Donley, MBA, BSN, RN knows firsthand what it means to conquer adversity. Having overcome addiction, a grave illness, divorce, single parenthood, obesity, indebtedness and being laid-off three times, Julie brings a wealth of experience to her work. Tired of life being SO hard, she went in search of an easier way. What she found was quite intriguing: “Hard or easy, it’s how you think about it!”
Julie has worked in psychiatric nursing since 1993 and founded her company, Nurturing Your Success, to empower you to achieve your goals and work through change by educating, inspiring and motivating you to succeed. She is the author of several books including Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.? and The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance and is named one of the top 100 thought leaders in personal development. For resources and to learn more, visit www.NurturingYourSuccess.com. Contact Julie at Julie@NurturingYourSuccess.com to have her speak at your next meeting or conference.
Coach Julie’s new book Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.? is available in bookstores.
Photo credit: Woman On Coronado Beach by Bill Kuffrey