• Linda Buchanan, Ph.D.

What Would You do to Avoid Change?

Updated: Feb 23, 2019


In my last post, I promised that I would address why, at times, we are more comfortable avoiding change even if it could make us happier. Although change can occur very rapidly, it is also important to understand why it can be difficult. This awareness will help you move through resistance much faster. Much of the resistance to change is due to various aspects of brain functioning. Every time we repeat a thought, feeling, or behavior, the neuropathway of that experience is strengthened. As described in Mindsight, the seminal book by Daniel Seigel, our brain naturally functions to develop associations as a way of learning and saving energy. For instance, when you get in your car, you are able to start driving with no thought about where the key goes and how to move out of park into drive. Your brain has taken several distinct movements and formed a continuous and smooth habit that is mostly unconscious. But try getting into someone else’s car for the first time, and it is awkward. “Change is like trying to write with your non-dominant hand. It’s awkward and inefficient at first, but gets better with practice” (unknown). This explains why we sometimes continue believing things about ourselves in the midst of overwhelming contradictory evidence. Thus, these beliefs become hardwired in your brain so that you accept them without question, making it increasingly difficult to think in a new way without

conscious effort.


One of the saddest things I encounter in my work as a psychologist is to hear about the painful experiences people have lived through and then watch as they create the same pain in their adulthood due to their early false beliefs.


Common Expectations that Slow Down Change

It is very common in life to avoid the hard work of changing something about ourselves due to the following pitfalls. These pitfalls make it very difficult to be take responsibility for creating change. These expectations may be so wired into your brain that you may not even be aware that you are making them. Write down any of the following expectations that you recognize in yourself and become as mindful as possible anytime that you are engaged them:


Expecting that others will change.

Expecting that no one will notice you if you don’t have a problem.

Expecting that others can know how you feel.

Expecting that you don’t deserve happiness.

Expecting that you will become a slacker if you give up your negative self-talk.

Expecting that change will be easy.

Expecting that you can never change.


The Five Commandments of Change

The following concepts from Marc & Angel Hack Life are fundamental for change to occur. I suggest that you memorize them, write them on three by five cards and put them in your phone so that you can see them often as you are working any type of change or on reevaluating your early narrative.


Be curious

Be open

Be non-critical of self

Be committed to self-care

Be responsible for your own change


Using these concepts, you can begin to increase your mental strength. “Mental strength means you understand how to manage your emotions, adjust your thinking, and choose to take positive action, despite your circumstances.” We understand that to become physically strong you have to work at it consistently. It is the same for building mental strength as well.


Now pick one of the reasons above that you have trouble changing and write it down. Then choose one of the commandments above and write it next to the first statement. I would love to hear from you. Please scroll down to the bottom of this page (past the banner of recent posts) to leave a comment.

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© 2019 by Linda Buchanan PhD.   Website by Nancy Steffke.