Whether it be a commitment to your health, your career, your relationship, or any other area of your life, we've all said to ourselves, “I’m going to make this change for the better.”
Then…you experience resistance and fall right back to where you were before.
Now, you understand the importance of the change that you want to make. You see what your life could look like on the other side of it. Yet you can’t seem to get yourself to take action, or you slip back into old patterns.
You start wondering if there’s a problem with you. “Perhaps I just lack discipline? Maybe I don’t really want it that bad? Is something wrong with me?”
I’m here to tell you that nothing is wrong with you. Here's why.
Right now, your heart is beating at a consistent rhythm. Your body is maintaining its temperature. Various different functions in your body are happening without you even noticing it? How is that?
This is all thanks to something called “homeostasis,” which essentially exists to help us maintain equilibrium, both physically and mentally. In other words, homeostasis wants consistency, because consistency is safe.
So when change occurs, it sends a signal to our subconscious mind that something is off. The subconscious mind then goes into overdrive to try and get you to return to the old patterns. It will send you thoughts, emotions, and even physical sensations to warn you against the changes.
So how do we overcome homeostasis? Here are a few tips?
1. Awareness without judgment
Homeostasis is not a bad thing. It is simply trying to help you survive. The only thing is that it cannot tell the difference between good change and bad change. Become aware (and expect) that homeostasis will happen when you commit to change. Through this awareness, you’ll be able to give yourself some grace for simply being human.
2. Lean in
Once you become aware of homeostasis without judgment, you can lean into the sensations. How does your body actually feel? What thoughts are going through your mind? By leaning into it, you can meet your body where it is and build from there.
3. Start slow
Think about your comfort zone as land and everything beyond your comfort as water. Now imagine that we drop you off in the middle of this water, with no land around whatsoever. How would you feel?
Now let's reset and imagine that all you were doing was simply taking a step into the water. How would you feel then? Most of us would be more comfortable with that.
So allow yourself to start by just taking that step. And once you feel like you’ve gone far enough for the day, come back to land. When you go back out again, you may still feel some of the resistance, but you’ll realize that it wasn’t as bad as it was before.
4. Explore novelty
Novelty requires change, but in a way that invites exploration and freshness rather than discipline and pressure. Take a normal route to work? Try a different path. Usually turn right at the corner instead of left? Go straight. Have the same breakfast every morning? Change it up.
By exploring novelty in these small ways, you shift your relationship with change from one that provokes homeostasis to one that dances with homeostasis.
A Final Thought:
It’s important to put an emphasis on this once again: homeostasis is not a bad thing and we only make it worse by beating ourselves up for it. As you go through and experience the discomfort of change, it's important to give yourself some grace and love.
Be aware of it, lean in, start slow, and explore novelty.
You got this.
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