We regularly set brilliant intentions for living a healthy life: being fit and active, eating well, having a calm mind, being kind to those around, and feeling happy and energetic every day. As the day goes on, it begins to feel like an unachievable feat. At that point, old routines and thought patterns take over good intentions.
We know all too well what we’ve always done isn’t going to serve us in the long run. Why is it so difficult to make a change? And how do we push ourselves past this barrier called resistance, and arrive on the other side? Firstly let’s delve a little into the biology of change.
Two chemistry Nobel prize winners (2013) theorised that when we try to break an old habit, a biochemical process happens at a cellular level, which makes it challenging to break that habit.
Our cells constantly receive information and replicate themselves. When we make a positive change, we send feel-good hormones (dopamine and serotonin) to our cells. However, if our cells are used to receiving cortisol, they will continue to want more of cortisol!
When this cellular chemical change happens, we misinterpret it to be an emotional change. We start to think ‘this doesn’t feel good; I should stop’. In fact, this is the ‘vibration’ that happens at the cellular level, as our cells change their receptor sites to accept this new information.
The more feel-good hormones we feed our cells as we continue with the change, the more our cells start to accept and become hungry for those new hormones.
So what? Knowing this allows us to ease into change, as we now know what to expect. When we feel like giving up, stick with it! Understand that this is how our cells work, so we stick through this transition period to give our cells a chance to develop new receptors.
Todd Hermann, a performance coach (founder of The Peak Athlete), observed two groups of people: ‘WOW’ brainers, and ‘OWW’ brainers. Both groups manage change differently.
When going through a process of change, ‘OWW’ brainers feel the vibration at the cellular level, and they start to tell themselves:
- ‘I’m not supposed to feel this way. This isn’t right for me.’
- ‘Why should I bother? I’ve always been like this.’
- ‘This doesn’t feel good! It’s painful!’
‘OWW’ brainers typically report feeling stuck, bored, and having a strong need to feel safe. In other words, they are stuck in their comfort zone!
When going through a process of change, ‘WOW’ brainers also face resistance, however they see the change process as more pleasurable:
- ‘I’m learning so much; I’m growing.’
- ‘Can’t wait to see what opportunities this brings.’
- ‘This is not easy, but I can see I’m getting better at it.’
‘WOW’ brainers typically associate change with growth, confidence, and adventure. It is needless to say that when it comes to change, ‘WOW’ brainers are much more adept than ‘OWW’ brainers.