Why you don’t change even when you really want to

fear of changeWhat keeps you stuck where you are?

It’s not that you CAN’T change, is it? You have plenty of proof already from your life that change is perfectly possible for you. After all, you’re not the same person you were as a child or a teenager!

If you have kids you’re almost certainly not the same person you were before you had them, you have different priorities, you make different choices. If you’re in a relationship with someone, you’re not living the same life you did as a single woman. If you’ve come through a serious illness, it’s probably changed your perspective on health and how you treat your body.

I got a wake-up call the day I lay curled up in child’s pose on my bed because that was the only relief I got from an agonising pain in my hip (caused, I later discovered, by a trapped nerve). Being unable to move freely shocked me into starting to take better care of my body.

Some changes seem to happen naturally and easily, have you noticed? Whereas others that you really, REALLY want to make, like losing weight for that special occasion, are a struggle against yourself every day.

What are you lacking?

What from this list do you resonate with (and it may well be more than one, or even ALL of them)?

Lack of clarity – not really knowing what you want, just a vague, fuzzy idea of a different kind of life (“more money”, “slimmer”, “a new man”)
Lack of passion – not wanting it enough, not feeling excited or inspired by it, something you feel you “should” want but you don’t, really
Lack of patience – giving up too soon, wanting the instant gratification rather than trusting yourself to claim the real outcome, however long it takes
Lack of confidence – believing that it’s “not for people like me”, that you don’t deserve it. Not trusting yourself to follow-through
Lack of a “plan” – wanting to know every step along the way before you start, instead of just the next one
Lack of “time” – not making time and space for it in your life and wondering why other people manage to fit in so much more

The hidden issues

Often those surface issues are driven by something deeper, such as:

Fear of making the wrong decision – making a clear choice means giving up other options, so you’re afraid to commit to anything and doing nothing seems safer than getting it wrong
Being too invested in a certain path (or person) and unwilling to give it up, even though it’s not moving you in the direction you want to go and actually proving to be a disaster
Clinging to victimhood – if you’ve been badly hurt, abused or traumatised, you may feel that you’re “owed” something or that you deserve to be “rescued” and by being successful or happy that you’ll appear to have got over it, so letting someone else off the hook. This one can be insidious – I found it in myself and it truly shocked me. YEARS after a particular incident, I was still angry about it and resisting success as a kind of punishment to those I felt had let me down. Of course the only person I was punishing was myself and I knew it, but “victim” was a tough role to give up, it absolved me from so much!

So what’s stopping you? What are you giving up your life for? Because make no mistake, you’re giving up your life for SOMETHING every second you continue to breathe! Is it for what truly matters to you, for the way you truly WANT to live? And if not, what are you going to do about it? Post in the comments below or message me on my Facebook page for a personal response.

Coming up next: 7 Small Steps to Make Big Changes in Your Life

14 Responses to “Why you don’t change even when you really want to”

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  1. Marie says:

    Having confidence is so important and it’s hard to be confident in everything I do. Pretty soon I will be an empty nester and therefore expect to have more time on my hands. As a result I have started to add on some things now. One thing I did was invite some friends to go with me to the gym. This gets me there more frequently. The side benefit is that one of them really knows all the equipment and now I have the confidence to go by myself and use the weights and other equipment whereas before I only went to the classes.

    • Isobel says:

      Sometimes we need to take one step at a time, other times it seems to work best to jump in and hope for the best! Well done on the new gym habit – accountability definitely helps ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Lesley Dewar says:

    I have refound my passion for writing children’s stories, and I am more than a bit cross with myself for wasting a year (and more money that I am prepared to admit) on trying to start two other businesses – pretty much simultaneously when I should have been doing this.

    If there is no passion, you will never get anywhere. I was going nowhere!

    • Isobel says:

      It’s great that you’ve found her passion again! I firmly believe though that nothing is wasted. That year you spent on other businesses has brought you right where you are now, in the perfect place to start writing again. If you were meant to have been writing those stories a year ago, you would have done ๐Ÿ™‚ For whatever reason, you weren’t ready then and I bet that in the last year you’ve gained some invaluable insights into what doesn’t work for you.

  3. Kelly says:

    Love your point that we have proof we CAN change ๐Ÿ™‚ Hard to deny!

    • Isobel says:

      Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ We can get so invested in the idea that “this is just how I am” that we forget we weren’t always!

  4. Lillian says:

    I think you make some very good points.

    As a survivor of trauma who experiences PTSD and Bipolar Disorder, all of the underlying conditions you stated existed. However, because of the kind of trauma and the resulting PTSD, I have had to undergo treatment, and am still going through it. Sometimes, getting mental health treatment to process and resolve trauma is the only way to move forward. Just like having a broken leg that wasn’t set correctly and the bones grew together crookedly as the healing began, trauma and “untreated healing” makes rough connections and scars the bone. It takes the bone being broken and reshaped, maybe pins put in, recast, etc. before the bone can be straightened out. So it is with treating trauma. That’s the process I’m going through now.

    • Isobel says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience Lillian. Some trauma absolutely needs professional help and treatment, even if it happened a long time ago and we think we’re “over it”. I’m so glad you’re getting the help you need.

  5. Cheryll says:

    This is great and so true! I am on the path to breaking this exact cycle. Thank you so much for the clarity. Looking forward to your next post!

    • Isobel says:

      Thanks so much Cheryll, I’m glad you enjoyed it ๐Ÿ™‚ Tomorrow I’m going to lay out the overview of the steps and then I’ll go into each of them in more detail over the next few days.

  6. Martha says:

    After hubby and I working in our business for 51 years, (which we love), I keep thinking maybe it’s time to slow down. Everyone keeps telling us it’s time to stop and smell the roses before it’s too late. Hubby is 71 and I’m 68 and I just can’t help but wonder if the change would be good.

    • Isobel says:

      I’ll let you into a secret before my next post is published ๐Ÿ™‚ My major successful life changes have always felt like the “next logical step” by the time I came to make them and therefore easy and natural to do. Part of the reason is that I visualised myself in the new situation for months before it actually happened, until it felt familiar. Whatever you decide, make sure you’re not trying to fit other people’s expectations of what you “should” do – trust your own instincts, especially as you both love your business and are happy working in it.

  7. Paul Taubman says:

    Even though we may not like where we are, the devil we know may be better than the devil we don’t know. I think this is also why people do not like to change. When we change are moving into unknown territory. Who knows how we will act? Who knows how our friends and family will respond?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Isobel says:

      Oh indeed, our primal brain is wired to do exactly that, keep us where we are where it knows we’re “safe”. Change can be frightening or exhilarating depending on our mindset, but as one of my mentors says “clarity comes from action, not thought”. We can’t possibly know how we or anyone else will react until we actually take the first steps ๐Ÿ™‚

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