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Challenged by Change?

 by Nancy Dagenhart, MFT

It's "The Question" of our time.  Whether your heart is wrenched by a global issue like sustainability, or an unpredicted financial condition has shaken your foundation, or you are repeatedly torn by relational patterns that inevitably end in conflict, it’s the bottom line question. We know something has to shift, yet,

Why, oh why, is change so hard?

We ask ourselves this question when we lament that things move so fast that we are dizzy and disoriented.

Why is change so hard?

We also ask ourselves the question when we are stuck, mired in frustrating patterns of habit and familiarity.

Why is it so hard to change?

Do you recognize yourself in any of these 6 Personal Challenges to Change?:

1.  In relationship, what makes change especially difficult is that we want someone else to do it first. It may go something like this… “If he/she would just see me for who I am, then I could feel more freedom to be the fun loving, spontaneous gal I am with my friends.” Or, “If my partner wouldn’t get so angry, we wouldn’t have these fights.”

2. Being rigid in our thinking makes us highly resistant to change. Research shows that these kinds of people are 42 percent more likely to report a high level of conflict in their relationship. “In fact, arguments often serve the purpose of using up energy, so that the couple does not have to take the courageous, creative leap into an unknown they fear. Arguing serves the function of being a zone of familiarity into which you can retreat when you are afraid of making a creative breakthrough.” (Gay Hendricks)

3. Unrealistic expectations about the ingredients of a good relationship are stultifying. Although 9 out of 10 people can name people they consider to be an ideal couple, most have fantasies about it being easy for that couple. The truth is that relationships are work for everyone. There are no “bump-free roads to bliss,” still there are many stories of great commitment, remarkable adaptability, and deepening devotion.

4. Fear greatly inhibits change. Somehow in watching great athletes and stars in their moments of peak performance we’ve overlooked the hours they’ve spent confronting the fear and pain that went into preparing for those moments. We can get so focused on end results that we stop valuing the multitude of courageous moments that lead us there. Follow the sage advice of Eleanor Roosevelt and “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Big or small, a step taken in courage is a step taken toward freedom.

5. Finding fault is an attempt to turn back the clock. If we can look at relationships as no-fault, with no need to place blame, the relationship can move ahead. We enter the moment of choice, the moment of great potential where something greater than the polarized opinions of either person becomes possible

6. Our lizard brain, that primitive, survival-based perspective that would have us bask in the sun all day and take refuge under a rock, will always want us to seek comfort. Knowing how much comfort is enough is difficult for us to realistically assess on a daily basis. The comfort of the familiar, the comfort of security, and the comfort of the predictable draw us into static habits making it very hard to find the will to wake up and move ahead.  

The truth is that our finest moments come out of times when we are out of our comfort zone, pressed beyond perceived limits, or forced to find creative solutions to opposing conditions: It’s always true, always: the one place you have the power to make positive change is with yourself.

So, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Nancy Dagenhart