Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why is change so hard?

Why do we do the same routines for decades, all the while knowing they are not right for us?

When we make a change, we bring up ancient, primal pain – the pain of life or death. The fear of losing our life. The pain of losing the little we have already gathered together in our worlds. This is like trying to take a bone from a dog – good luck.

It makes sense. Think of a cave person. Would they shake up their routine just to see what happened? Probably not. Leaving the cave at a different time might mean getting eaten by a big animal -- better to stick with what you know!

So when we are making changes, the same gut-level fears can arise. It’s enough to make you curl up in the fetal position and sob – which is why, for most of us, we avoid making big life changes. We avoid thinking about things too deeply and instead go along with the crowd and hope that in the end, it will somehow all make sense. But this is not the way that we become happy.

To be happy requires asking questions – questions that may lead us to realize that changes are necessary. And if you re-read the above paragraph, you will see that avoiding potential pain is our motivation for burying our heads in the sand. Avoiding pain tends to be a stronger motivation than seeking happiness. Makes sense right? And this is something we all do, regardless of how "intelligent" or "strong" you are -- we are first, human. And our fears are all the same.

But something happens eventually. If your life that you are living is not in line with the life that will make you happy, you will feel something strange. It starts as a whisper of discomfort and ends in a scream. It’s difficult to ignore a scream.

This can take decades to build, which is why we hear so often about the midlife crisis. More recently, a book was published about The Quarter-life crisis. But the fact is, this crisis can happen at any time, any stage of life. Perhaps our society is structured in a way to bring these issues to a boiling point around age 25, or age 40, or maybe that’s just the popular way to excuse our quest for true happiness as a “crisis” instead of a process of discovery, a painful break of our old stagnant life, like an egg cracking and inside is the truth of what will lead you to happiness.

The problem is the second part – where we learn to work through the pain and use it as a guide to find out where we are going – isn’t talked about. We hear the word “crisis” we feel that initial pain of “change” and that is where it usually stops. Then we distract ourselves with all sorts of temporary pleasures, television, movies, anything that numbs our hearts, hushes our logical minds, and distracts our intuition.

But if we follow it instead, and do not run from the fear, terror even, of the beginning process of change, than we will be lead exactly where we need to go. That is where we feel resonance with our life. And all of the things, thoughts, people and places surrounding us suddenly feel in tune with our souls, with our hearts minds and bodies, until we effortlessly notice, that finally – we are happy. Content. At peace. Full. And it’s not only possible, it’s our birth right.

To get through that fear requires seeing it differently. Not a focus on giving up what we have – though that is necessary, both in possessions, in thoughts, in relationships, in physical locations, in just about all shapes and forms – but to instead focus on what it is we want. What it is we are building, and why. When you understand what your dream mansion looks like, why you are building it, and exactly how it will make you happy, it becomes much easier to be okay with demolishing your old house – as much as you love its uneven floor and its leaky roof and unsteady foundation. Routine is a comfort, but it is not happiness.

Once that desire has grown, of wanting to be in tune with your underlying dreams, with the person you really are – not what you have, or what you look like, or where you’re from, but simply who you are as a human, the thing you were as a tiny egg, that collection of energy you were as an infant, a child, and the person you will be long from now when you are old, and longer after that when you are no longer a person, but a part of the earth – when you realize that the person you really are wants more, not out of greed, but out of love. Out of a desire to use your gifts to help not only yourself, but those around you, when you feel that resonance, your entire chest vibrates like ivory strings across a violin, and that is fulfillment.

Getting there is not easy, but it is worth it. And there is little else worth fighting for as much in life, because to fight for anything, you have to first feel this – the knowing of why you are here and what you are meant to do. Otherwise, you are simply going through the motions. And that is not a powerful way to fight for anything. Without passion, not much is possible. With passion, there is no stopping a person.

Want to find the best life coach for you and your goals? Need a new life? Career or personal dreams? Find out more about Life Coaching. I'm Julie Melillo, a NYC Certified Life Coach serving professional, ambitious clients in-person in New York City and over the telephone and internet -- I coach financial traders, attorneys, entrepreneurs, artists and anyone creating a big, brand new life. 


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AMPlifier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AMPlifier said...

Very well-written. This post resonated with me, as I went through that "quarter life crisis" several years ago, which led me to quit teaching and move to NYC... And as you said, once I made those choices, things started to flow for me. But now I feel I'm on the verge of the next phase of changes; not quite sure what those are yet, though! Perhaps I need a consultation! :)