Why change is hard… in spite of resolutions

Photo: © Kristyna Bazantova / 123RF Stock Photo

Haven’t we all endured some or many of these?

  • Parents telling us that we’re moving home.
  • Class teacher saying she’s leaving school.
  • A close friend moving away from the city.
  • Drifting away emotionally from a sibling.
  • Outgrowing our super-favourite outfit.

How did we react when these happened? Did we get excited at the prospect of a new neighbourhood, maybe a better school with better teachers or an additional set of friends?

Why we don’t like change

Many, rather all of the above, sound like we did not want them to happen or ask for them or consciously do anything to bring them on. Of course, we face them and eventually accept them, but it’s unquestionably difficult for us.

We suffer this hardship because we aren’t prepared to alter our comfortable reality. As human beings, we are conditioned by habit. We get used to things. We don’t like adjusting to new environments, accepting different teachers, friends, neighbours; or even newer grocery vendors and security guards!

Why our brain doesn’t like change

At a neuroscientific level, our comfort zone is nothing but our brain’s desire for precision and clarity. When we follow a routine, everything seems simple and sensible. We are averse to uncertainty. And any change brings vagueness, ambiguity and abstraction to our life’s equation. We don’t like complicated math. So, we abhor change. And we want to stick to the status quo. The routine — same food, same old study pattern, old school and same old friends.

Can we change the way we react to change?

Ordinarily we procrastinate on change. And save it for another day. Of course, we want to organize studies, manage time, make friends, excel at sport, eat healthy and be better human beings. Statistically, most people wait for the dawn of the New Year to pledge to improve themselves in some way. They use the time to promise themselves that they will adapt, assimilate and accommodate to people, situations and their own body and mind. Rightfully so, changing ourselves is key to accepting new environments and all the novelty they bring.

“We need to change how we see change!”

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Dr Shefali Batra
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Dr Shefali Batra

Dr Shefali Batra is a Senior Psychiatrist and CBT Expert, and is the Founder of Mindframes. She posts and conducts regular ‘lives’ on Instagram @drshefalibatra.