“Why is it so difficult to change?”
This is probably the question I am most frequently asked whenever I am listening to a person sharing with me their frustration at the challenges in changing our thoughts, behaviours and habits.
Those of us, and I suspect this to be most of us, can readily identify with that question. Change is difficult. We are all aware of the old truism that reminds us that “old habits die hard.”
So, why is it so difficult to change?
Perhaps it would be helpful to look at it this way.
Imagine for a moment that the change you wish to make or the habit to you wish to replace is actually a neighborhood in your community.
That neighborhood, for many years now, has been run by a local, vicious street gang. This gang has controlled all aspects of the neighborhood – who enters, who leaves, what comes in, what goes out. In short, this gang owns the neighborhood.
Now you have decided to introduce a new behaviour or habit.
Now imagine that this new behaviour or habit is a group of citizens, led by you, who have decided they have had enough of this gang and its reign of terror and that the time has come to reclaim the neighborhood – to take back their streets.
I am sure you will all agree that it is extremely naïve to expect the street gang to passively pack up and leave simply because you have announced your intention to reclaim your streets.
That won’t happen. What will happen is that this gang will go to war. They will fight hard, and they will fight dirty. They will pull no punches and there’s no level too low for them to stoop to in order to prevent you from re-accessing the neighborhood and taking back your streets.
This is all-out turf warfare.
You are going to have to fight for every inch of territory and there may well be moments when you give back some of the land you have fought so hard to reclaim.
The only way to win this battle is to continue your assault; to double, and then redouble, and then redouble again your efforts, and to not allow them one inch of victory.
It won’t be a pretty fight but, as we have so often discussed, we only do what is important in the moment, and if it is important to once again be able walk safely, confidently and happily through your own streets, then this becomes a battle you must not lose.
And even once the battle is won, and the gang has left the arena, you must not relax your vigilance.
Those bastards will always be lurking in the background, waiting for any opportunity to crawl out from whichever rocks they are hiding under, and recommence the battle.
I recently arranged to have coffee with a man I have not seen for a few years. I arrived at the restaurant early and as I was being seated, I noticed him walking through the parking lot.
To my surprise he stopped to put out a cigarette just before he entered the restaurant. I have never known him to smoke some naturally asked what that was all about.
He told me something quite alarming. He mentioned that he had quit smoking for 17 years ago and that just a few weeks back he was at a barbecue at a friend’s house and a few people lit up cigarettes and “something came over me and I decided to just have one.” We all know the rest of the story. One becomes two, two becomes three and three becomes buying a package.
It’s the gang. They’re back.
If my gang analogy is too gruesome, I apologize but I think it is a powerful metaphor for the challenges we face each time we introduce change into our lives. It is seldom easy, but owning our own territory is so worth the price we pay to get there.
A word of caution: please don’t think you can implement simply change by “trying to change”. We cannot try to change. We achieve change only by determined immersion and by burning any and all bridges so as to remove all possible avenues of escape back to our previous ways.
I don’t know if there is another way – an easier way – to achieve long lasting change, but I do know there is no greater feeling in the world than having successfully changed a behavior or habit and replaced it with one that empowers us and brings joy, strength, confidence, exhilaration, love, peace and happiness into our lives.
Surely, those are worth fighting for?
Till we read again.
P.S. I am very excited to share with you that my book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
P.P.S. I had the privilege of doing my first ever radio interview a few weeks ago. The topic of the interview was my book, Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours. Here is a link to my interview.
I did a second radio interview recently. Here is the link.
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the iinterviews. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts