Why is Change so Hard?

Why is Change so Hard?

Jul 9th 2020

Humans have difficulty with change. We proceed on autopilot and put off recognizing the need for change until a global pandemic or a human-rights movement makes us realize that there is a glaring non-negotiable need for change that must be made today and not tomorrow.

The reason that we put off change and proceed mindlessly is that everything we do, or feel, or think is reflected in circuits of brain cells or neurons that we have built within our brains. The more we do or think something, the stronger the neuron circuit becomes—our circuits maintain our habits, and our habits reinforce our circuits.

Scientists say that the more often we do or think something, the more likely we are to continue doing or thinking the same thing in the future. We do not, however, have to be prisoners of our brain circuitry—we can step back, engage our higher consciousness, reflect upon our long-held beliefs or habitual actions, and then purposefully create new pathways.

We are creatures of habit, but we are also creatures of adaptability and change. A child’s young brain is highly adaptable—it is shaped by their experiences and their caregivers. Everything is new to children, and they absorb it all. The adult brain is also adaptable, but less so, which is why it is more difficult for an adult to learn new skills or change habitual ways of thinking than it is for children.

Our adaptability as humans is the secret to our success as a species. Our challenge as adults is to harness our adaptability and focus it toward positive results. In that way, what we think and the choices we make in the future will be a thoughtful reflection of who we want to be and how we want to live in the world.

We can make the decision to challenge old attitudes and habits and create new ones that are more in keeping with our current values. We can continue to act and think on automatic pilot, or we can choose to create a different path, lay down new circuitry, and live in a more mindful way. It’s a choice, and the choice is ours.

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