Why is Change is So Hard?

By susanpeabody 05/09/18

There are many reasons it is so hard to change. They will vary from person to person, and circumstance to circumstance, but we must remove them one by one as they come up. Here are some common obstacles that stand between us and the person we were meant to be.


Fear is one of the biggest stumbling block to change. Most people are afraid of the unknown. Fear usually manifests itself as something else like ambivalence or denial. Fear also sends us all kinds of negative messages like, “What if things get worse instead of better?” “What if I fail?” “What if I succeed and I can’t handle the responsibilities?” To deal with your fear, make a decision and move forward. Even if it is the wrong decision, it is better than doing nothing. Moving forward by trial and error is a legitimate way to change. There is an expression that says it better than I could. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

Childhood Trauma

When you are traumatized as a child, you cling to familiar rituals and the things that make you comfortable--the things that ease  anxiety. Familiarity is your best friend and so you hesitate to change anything in your life. In Alcoholics Anonymous they say: "Give me a rut and I will furnish it."


Nothing stands in the way of change as much as addiction. Addiction is all about holding on to mood-altering experiences and dangerous rituals at the expense of change, even when the changes are necessary to save your life.

Addiction can sometimes feel like demonic possession in the sense that one is possessed by his or her bad habits. In Alcoholics Anonymous, members pray to a Higher Power: “Relieve me of the bondage of self.” 

Pleasure Compulsion

Some people have an over active "pleasure compulsion." This is a term I coined to describe a combination of what the Freudians call the “repetition compulsion” (which is the mind’s tendency to repeat traumatic events in order to deal with them) and the “pleasure principle,” which describes the need of the infant to seek gratification. In adults, this would be called the “production of pleasure.”
The pleasure compulsion, or the tendency to repeat the same pleasurable experience over and over again, is an attempt to ameliorate trauma. You can see the pleasure compulsion acted out beautifully in the movie Casablanca,. Ingrid Bergman is feeling the pain of loss, and it makes her feel better to hear a certain piano piece played by Sam. The pleasure compulsion prompts her to wistfully say, “Play it again, Sam.”
It goes without saying that you must remove whatever stumbling blocks stand between yourself and your ability to change. As Wayne Dyer puts it in his book: “Your Erroneous Zones,” “If we are not growing, we are dead.”

To this I add: “Change is to human life what the metamorphosis is to the caterpillar; it is the inevitable cycle of life. If there is no change, there is no life.” “The Art of Changing,” by Susan Peabody.

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