Why Change Sucks: And How To Make It Suck Less

Change is the only constant in life. Whether physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or relational, it’s the one thing we can all guarantee is going to happen, so why are we all so bent on avoiding it?

Because it’s hard! And it usually sucks!

I’ll tell you why it sucks so much, but before I get into it, I’ve got to tell you... change is my jam. I’m fascinated by the universal process, and by our chronic avoidance of it. BUT… That doesn’t mean you’ll find me complaining any less when it’s happening to me.

Change still makes me feel like this:

And that’s okay! I think there’s a myth floating around that if you reach acceptance of something, somehow you will then be unaffected by it. Uh… Totally untrue. I’m still deeply affected by change because I’m human, and we all experience the same transformative process:

No matter the type of change we experience, our brains have to adjust. And our brain’s adjustment is the source of our anguish.

Our brains are made up of neural pathways; billion of linked neurons that facilitate our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Imagine this neural network is actually a network of roads. Your normal daily schedule, relationships, thoughts, and emotions are the highways/freeways. You’ve repeated these things so many times; the pathway is strong, active, and busy.  The things you occasionally do, or the thoughts you occasionally have create the side roads; still strong, but less active and busy. And so on…

So, what happens when we have to learn something new as a result of change? 

An entirely new “road” has to be built.

And just as real roads take time, resources, and energy to build, so do those new neural pathways that have to get created when we experience change.

Decided to change jobs or an entirely different career? New pathways.

Ended or started a relationship? New pathways.

Learning a new skill and applying it in your life? New pathways.

Adjusting to powers outside of your control? New pathways.

The first run through is going to be bumpy as hell, but as you continue to take that path, the “road” will become more defined, more smooth, and eventually, it could become established and "paved."

The experience of these new pathways is scary because our brains also strive to keep us safe. And safety happens in predictability. Safety happens within those strong neural pathways. And fear is our brain’s natural strategy to keep us on the highway.

So if you want to make sure your next big change sucks a little less, my advice to you is this:

Remember this metaphor. Whether this change is happening by your choice or not, remember that change is never easy because your brain is doing some fucking hard work to create new pathways for you. It takes time - give yourself a break!

Remember that the fear you feel is your brain trying to protect you; trust yourself to blaze that new path. It's totally possible.

And as always, take care of yourself! Even if you have to fit in 5 minutes of self care in between meetings, do it. Your brain will work more efficiently if you take the time to restore.


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