Why Is It So Difficult To Change?

in psychology •  last year

Change can quite often be very painful, especially when it comes to making changes in the area of physical addictions, like making the change to give up smoking, drinking, eating favorite snacks, and so on. When we want to go about making many different changes in our lives, those changes are often going to require us to consistently make the desired action again and again, but without seeing immediate rewards from doing so. And because we might not see rewards immediately, it can be discouraging and keep us from wanting to continue with trying to make the change. We might feel like there is no point or that we aren't getting anywhere, if it takes us too long to see results from our actions.

When the change is causing us too much discomfort then it isn't any surprise that we would backslide and end up unraveling the progress that has been made. This is why behavior experts suggest that it's more efficient to break down the habit or behavior that you want to change into different stages and to then tackle them one at a time.

It can be overwhelming to think about the end goal of what you want to achieve or change and sometimes that big end goal can be daunting and appear so far away that it discourages us from trying to move forward and make the changes to achieve it. This is why it's been suggested that it is better to break down the desired change into smaller and more achievable steps, small goals that can be achieved on the way to reaching a bigger one.

Breaking down the goal like this is going to help to simplify the process and for many this will make it seem easier to achieve.

Some change can be very quick and relatively easy but other changes sometimes take a very long time and a decent amount of continued effort.

Changing your appearance or re-organizing your home for example is going to take a lot less time for some than it would to do say getting themselves out of debt or accomplishing some other long-term goal for themselves. Focusing on the big overall goal can be overwhelming, breaking it down and focusing on smaller steps can sometimes be more efficient especially in the way of reinforcing you to move forward after you accomplish every smaller goal.

Researchers suggest that reinforcement is going to greatly impact the effectiveness of trying to go about making any changes. And this reinforcement can be either intrinsic, extrinsic, or extraneous. In other words, when you make progress you should take the time to celebrate that progress that you have made and it might further influence you to continue making the necessary or desired changes that you want to make.

Mindset also has a lot to do with change, many who study human behavior have suggested that a person must first change their way of thinking before they hope to see desired results and real changes in their life. For example, before a person starts to make better eating choices, spending the time to educate themselves on what the are eating or the reasons and benefits for making the changes might offer them a better chance at being successful in following through with making the changes.

When people adjust and evolve their personal views and life goals, then they are going to be more likely to change their behavior in order to compliment their personal life views.

When it comes to going about making life changes and changing our habits, researchers suggest that we should:

  • identify the area we want to change
  • think about what we are getting (benefit) from making the change
  • think about what we want to replace that habit with
  • consider any possible triggers that prompt that unwanted habit to arise
  • constantly visualize success and imagine yourself making the change.

Psychology experts insist that we are likely to be more successful in making desired changes if we can make those changes something that are easy to do and if it's something that can easily be incorporated into our already existing daily routine.

It's common to fail many times when trying to make changes and we shouldn't let those setbacks discourage us from continuing to try and move forward with whatever desired change we would like to see in our lives.



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Yes, habits is the thing. I heard before we are creature of habits and I tend to agree with that.


Well, if you had to choose between "change the external and you change the inner" and "change the inner to change the outer," which one would it be?


If there is only one choice, I think change has to come with within.:-)

Full 100% upvoted and resteemed :-)

I like how you wrote that we should think about what we are going to replace the habit we want to change with..This is one of the steps that many of us leave out, and then we wonder why we make so little progress in our change..simply because it's harder to stick to not doing something when we don't keep ourselves busy with another.

You raise some good points. To effect change in oneself, mindset is key. Another area that you bring up that I find to be a particular concern for myself, is the avoidance of triggers as they can sometimes be very subtle. Triggers evoke emotional responses....for me can be as simple as a key phrase in a song, or a person just uttered that key phrase. I know what that phrase is. Bevause it immediately takes me back. Could be as simple phrase as" pancakes and waffles ". Maybe the person was at IHOP right after every alcoholic binge

There's a saying when it comes to finance,

If you don't change, all you'll be left with is change in your pocket.

I abhor change. But I have realized the last 3 years that it must be done whether I like it or not, in order to survive.
It is very difficult at my age, but once it is done,I adjust.
Things CAN be overcome. I am proof. Thanks for the article here. I really liked it.

There are many reason why we resist change. I think of it as an old shoe. You find comfort in that old shoe however you know you need new shoes. Part of it is the lack of trust in what is new. It could also be the learning curve. And part of it is just pure laziness. Great read. Thanks for sharing. I upvoted.

Change is 100% difficult. But once people learn how to do the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable their entire life will transform. Thanks for sharing.

Great post. A lot of the times, there will be resistance from your mind, specially if we talk about big change, because change can lead to something unknown and most are afraid about something that is unknown to us.

Well written and could not agree more. I am currently in such situation where I know change is what I want and need to live my life in peace of mind. I guess travelling the world for a year did exactly as you say - change personal view and life goals... How my behavior is changing I am writing about on steemit - next to my travel experiences. I think this helps in being conscious about the change I am going through. So I could very much relate to your words. Thank you.

I liked a lot what you said about visualizing ourselves with success, and the importance of taking notice and avoiding the triggers for that "pleasure rewards" that we have programmed in our silly mind... I'm still trying to get rid of cigarettes, for the moment I only smoke 2 puffs at a time.... 😬 I buy packs less frequently for now... Thank you for sharing!

It’s really hard to change I felt you

Thanks for this post @doitvoluntarily - my feelings and questions exactly. Have upvoted and resteemed

It's our upbringing, which often involves institutionalization of our youth, where they are taught what to think and not how to think.
We are brought up in a culture of addiction, not only to drugs like alcohol, but sugar, food etc. We aren't meant to eat 3 or 6 times a day or even daily at all. Check out my blog for info on my Steemit Diet 72 lbs in 72 Days through 72 hour wetfasts experiment.
You've been followed, upvoted and resteemed.

I think that the reason for change has to be larger than the obstacles to be overcome.

Not having an overarching reason sets people up for failure and people are REALLY averse to gasp, failing.

It's the fear of failure that often prevents people from attempting to change.

And many, if they do try, have a pre-conceived resignation to failure that limits their attempts to half-hearted efforts, at best.

Never failing means you've never tried and I pity the poor souls who have succeeded on every first attempt in their lives, they're heading for a big fall.

I'm not such a big fan of Thomas Edison but I can still like some of his work.

I have gotten lots of results!
I know several thousand things that won’t work!
Thomas Edison

Awesome illustrations! Change is a funny request. We can change so much with the right motive. Truly it always takes an emotional connection to make it happen or divine intervention.

Something's are easier said than done no matter how much we want to change the old us will tell us to change soon or change after something happens but why do we actually wait for something to change us , why not take an easier path and do it before something goes wrong . Why are humans like this...


Ya, its weird how we can't just change.

UPVOTED AND FOLLOWED. Great post on change. I will take my time to go over it over and over again

Thank you @doitvoluntarily. Very insightful post, thank you for sharing!

Sometimes its even hard to change the diapers of grown people. :)

Thanks for sharing, it is really hard to change

We humans are basically creatures of habit. So when we catch a habit either it being sleeping a lot or smoking etc it's very hard to change from it @doitvoluntarily

Some of my biggest changes in my life were after several major setbacks as your refer to in this post. If you keep a positive attitude and continue to forge thru setbacks you can make a breakthru. Very important information you put out. Thanks for always making me think...:)


I do not like change at all but I know I desperately need to make some changes as far as eating healthier and to quit smoking its so hard but I will apply your tips and I will follow them because these things I mentioned must change . Thanks for your advice and that was a really good read have a good day! And if you ever come to the North Carolina mountains I will grill you up that steak! 😜


I love the NC Mountains. I grew up north on the VA side of the Blue Ridge and then worked at UNC-Chapel Hill for 12 years, spending so much time in the NC mountains. I still keep lots of friends in Asheville, Boone and such. Best places for a quick weekend getaway, from B&B to a quick hike and camp. From the beaches to the mountains, NC has it ALL. (Maybe you can tell I miss living there lol)

Kindest Regards


Its a great place to live I love this life, I was in Va yesterday went to fairy stone park and ask around the blue ridge, starting tomorrow I'm going to be posting all the pictured I took with the stored when did you leave the mountains? And thanks for your comment:)🌷


My family is still in the area from Chapel Hill, North too, Harrisonburg, VA. I grew up mostly around Wintergreen Ski Resort, right where the Blue Ridge Drive starts.

I have never really left the mountains, I just usually trade one set in for another. I have lived in Colorado in the past. I just moved from Mt. Baker Washington State to the highlands of Guatemala. I am working on a book while living on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Surrounded by steep volcanoes, this is one of the world's deepest volcanic lakes. It sits about a mile high, so, we are in constant spring-like weather.

I will get back to NC/VA this summer for awhile.

I will follow you so I can keep up. I will be posting lots of my photography, I see we like the same things like that.

I think we cling on to our survival instincts and what we already know.
Its easy to do the same thing day in day out and to make changes needs work and effort.
We feel safety in the things we know and are comfortable with. But we also feel a sense of achievement when we do make changes that work.
Change requires effort but people in general are lazy (including myself :)). But changes makes people grow.
We need change to move on as a species

Just in time, i´m trying to quit smoking and i´m feeling hard as all the previous attempts.. the first step is to understand why is so hard, and this information open many doors.. thanks for sharing this

a very good write-up; you kept it simple and in plain non-pompous language; I like that!

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I am young. Well consider myself to be. And i am afraid of change. I guess i am scared of the unknown. And i wonder if i will be able to cope with it? Maybe its the same for some of you too?

I think it's because the brain gets used to re-accessing the same neural pathways over and over again. Want change? Do meditation

It's very difficult to change the habit. For example, I'm used to late supper. I understand that it is harmful ... I need something to replace this habit, probably?

nice writing !! great job wonderfull !

Thanks for your post, to be reading record an opportunity in which I was in a course and spoke a little of this subject the speaker asked the people to change jobs, it was the second day and many people were reluctant to change places, That was the introduction to address the issue! I guto your post.
It is necessary to leave our comfort to make the changes.