Change is a mysterious thing; people naturally strive towards it, claim to want it and yet are often stubbornly resistant to it. Humans enjoy routine or sameness because it offers us a sense of structure and security, two qualities essential for civilization and survival. At the same time, you have Darwin saying in his Origin of Species: “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Change is inevitable because it is inherent in the nature of things and beings. The direction it takes and how one responds to it, however, is largely a matter of personal responsibility and choice.

Here’s why change can be so challenging:

It takes effort and can be overwhelming. Sometimes change occurs organically, but at others, change needs to be actively brought about – such as deciding to be assertive with someone you haven’t been able to stand up to, or staying motivated to keep working out to lose those extra calories. Reaching one’s goals requires constructive change that takes will power, persistence and effort which can be challenging.

Its effects are not limited to just you. When you make a change in your life, you are generally not the only person it affects. Its effects often spill over to other aspects of your life including people you know and meet. The response to your efforts to change are not always encouraging or positive — as is seen in the cases of judgment from others, stigma, desire to be liked, and fear of rejection, which stops people from pursuing change.

It brings you out of your comfort zone. Change is a challenge because we become too comfortable – in our happiness, in our miseries, and in what is familiar to us. Changing means having to become accustomed to something new – something other than what we know and love or know and hate – which implies leaving behind something old and known. The fear of the unknown and the uncertainty that comes with it poses a hindrance to change.

It means having to deal with your insecurities. Being human, we are insecure about one thing or another, which in turn stops us from pushing beyond whom we think we are now, and becoming whom we want to be. These insecurities could be due to a fear of failure, feelings of incompetence or worthlessness, self-doubt, self-blame, a fear of disappointing others, conflict and ideas of low self-importance, or even because of certain internalised notions from childhood.

Much in the same way every problem gives the potential for the creation of a solution – every challenge inherently contains the potential to become an opportunity to learn and grow. Simply put, change may be hard but it can be well worth it if you give it some careful thought (and constructive action). The key to seeing change as an opportunity is in understanding that the challenges are part of the growth:

  • Realising that change happens consistently and regularly, as surely as the earth goes around the sun.
  • Accepting that we won’t be able to see or control every change, but we have the power to choose how we perceive and respond to it.
  • Recognising change as giving you a reason to confront and challenge your own demons.
  • Pursuing change means you don’t have to “accept your fate” or settle for something you do not want – it allows you to take the power as well as the responsibility for what you want in life.

Change, they say, is the only constant. The only variable then, is what you do about it.

Silver Oak Health