At the center of all life is change. It is a natural, universal element that helps hold our world in balance. Yet, we have been heavily wired and programmed against it. Learn why people resist change and how you can reclaim the process and become the empowered heroine or hero of your own story.
Are You Resisting Change?
Bless our brains. These powerful internal computers programmed to do one thing and one thing alone—survive. Every fear, doubt, and hesitation around new beginnings seep from this deep-rooted need to seek out potential threats and eliminate them. The culprit behind these moments of panic is our amygdala. As explained by healthline.com, our amygdala is the part of the brain that releases stress hormones and activates our fight-or-flight response when we feel threatened. Since change often triggers our brains into feeling unsafe, our natural response is to resist it. Sounds exhausting, right?
“To those who do not want to change, let them sleep” - Rumi
Often our resistance rises in the forms of procrastination, sneaky bad habits like overeating or having one too many cocktails, or entertaining non-starting vocabulary such as “yeah, except…” or “I shouldn’t because…”
When we try to convince ourselves out of something, it can be a strong indicator that our heartstrings may be pulling us towards it.
Why People Resist Change
So then why do people resist change? The simple answer is because we’re terrified. Our minds are wired with billions of tiny neurons, a complete system aimed at one goal—keeping us alive. In much earlier times, the stakes were higher. For example, if you were exiled from the tribe, you may not survive the winter. After years of development and shifts in civilization, our caveman-like minds still tend to operate at this primal level.
Many of us spend our days craving something different and vision-boarding ourselves into every new year. So when the opportunity arises, and change lays itself at our feet, why do we resist the call?
Why You Are the Hero of Your Journey
In every form of storytelling, writers, filmmakers, and playwrights alike utilize the structure of the Hero’s Journey. This formula, as described by Joseph Campbell, wonderfully lays out the phases of any great journey. First, we meet our hero, learn of their desires, set up looming scary obstacles, and then bring them straight to the call to action. This call to action is an invitation to our hero. It invites them to blindly leap, step into the unknown, and begin the journey toward a truer, more enlightened version of themselves. And if the hero says no? Well, then there’s no movie.
Kyle Cease, a former comedian turned spiritual enthusiast, has a thoughtful idea about why people resist change. From his experience, when we feel inspired to say yes to a thrilling new adventure, our brains block us, resisting desperately, because they can only see what we will lose. Our brains have no way to measure what we may gain. So, how could anything new arrive without us making space from the clutter?
How to Reclaim the Process of Change
You may ask, “This all sounds wonderful but where do I start?” We’ve all been there, you’re not alone. If you’re doing it right, you will likely keep coming back to this question frequently. It’s growth. It isn’t something you’re meant to nail down and perfect. It’s exploration. Let’s dive.
Five Ways to Lean Into the Magic of Change
1. Meditate, Meditate, Meditate
Not a nuanced idea. But, meditation is powerful because it creates space for ideas. If you are seeking ways to further lean into the meditation process, find what works for you. Do you like music? Listening to affirmations? Doing a silent, free flow dance? Think of this as an opportunity to invite in new and exciting clues.
Not only will your mind and nervous system be calmer, but when things light up and align, you may not be so surprised. It will make the shouting yes, so much easier.
2. Make a List
Find five things you have right now in your life that you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t embraced the excitement of the unknown. A relationship? A job? An amazing hobby you love? The beautiful thing is, even if you only get to three, you’re given an exciting opportunity to start meeting change and maybe add two more.
3. Find a Teammate
Like workouts, lifestyles, and even moving apartments, having someone to walk alongside you makes all of the difference. Embracing change and leaping becomes fun when you challenge yourself and another to do one new thing each week. Try that class, call that person, explore the origin of a doubt. Not only will you build new thought patterns and habits, but also richer, stronger friendships.
4. Take a Moment to Reflect
Often change arises when something deeper is attempting to give us guidance, insight, or information. In every situation, despite how wonderful or trying, there is always an opportunity to take a step back and ask, what is this telling me? You may be surprised just how often a seemingly negative change may be showing up to inspire you to take action.
5. Be Brave and Turn Back
I may lose you on this but stay with me. A shocking amount of our deepest fears stem from our childhood.
The fear of not being liked ripples through our years, crippling our inspired truths and beckoning us back into being small. Take a moment when resistance arises and sit with it for a moment.
Start to ask, why are you here? As it reveals answers to you, keep questioning the next layer, why are you here? Often, what you will be led to is a moment in childhood, when a young mind, learning the rules of the world, was scared, confused, or misinformed. You are not that small child any longer. Be the parent, guardian, or brave leader that your (inner) childhood self needed. You now get to show up for you.
Find the courage to embrace the inner work and step into your glorious life.
Make Magic Through Change
Why do people resist change? We have been conditioned to do so. Yet, we are also the heroes of our own lives. We have both the power and the exhilarating responsibility to release past falsities and marvel at our expansion. Let’s dance. This life journey is such a gift and we all, truly all of us, have a chance to dream up and lean into the most beautiful version of it for ourselves. What will yours be?