How many times in life have you felt that something wasn’t exactly as you hoped or expected it to be and so you felt inclined to say: “I am sorry, I’ve changed my mind”? Most of us have experienced reluctance to assert this, so instead decided to stick to the original idea as it felt more familiar and hence more comfortable. But did it really feel more comfortable in the long run?
Is sticking to the ‘old’ a matter of character
One of the reasons we tend to feel awkward at the thought of backing off from our initial plans and commitments can be a belief that it means not showing enough persistence. Not changing our mind so easily is considered to be a matter of character, something people can think very highly of. As much as this is true in some cases, this same way of thinking can extend to many other aspects of our life that could really do with a change.
We are the beings of evolution
Often behavior that has been repeated over and over again throughout our life becomes an established way of doing things, but this is not always beneficial. Sometimes we forget that we are the beings of evolution that learn throughout our whole life. Hence, at some point in life, we may struggle with some premises we accepted at an earlier age because they are so different from what life is actually asking from us – and that is change! We pick up certain habits without actually being aware of it until we realise they are negatively impacting our health, relationships or general well-being. We may feel compelled to stick to what we have learnt and feel uncomfortable at the idea of changing our mind. Most of us have at some point heard – “If you change your mind you can change your life”, but still, we are reluctant to do so.
Reluctance explained by science
Science can provide an explanation – we do not like change even if we know it is for our benefit! Everything that deviates from our established ways of doing things causes a certain level of resistance, and requires a lot more conscious engagement. It is common to feel overwhelmed at the thought of exploring the unknown and stepping away from our safety net. Would it help if I tell you that this is a natural response, caused by our brain trying to keep us safe. The unfamiliar or the unknown is something that our brain doesn’t have an established pattern for, so it may be prompting us to stay within the safety zone or firing off safety alarms when it’s faced with change.
How does it really feel?
The questions is – how safe and advantageous is sticking to established behaviour over and over again? How does it really feel? Sometimes we may come up with different answers when explaining to ourselves why we do things the way we do and why we persist in not changing our mind. The answer is very simple – it feels good. Or it doesn’t. The fact is that we have known the answer right from the start. Some may call it gut feeling, intuition or the all-knowing subconscious. It was there even before it reached our conscious awareness, before the point when we start interpreting events as we find suitable. You may now wonder why do we do this? Why do we endeavour so hard to sustain the old, sometimes even at the cost of losing touch with how we actually feel? Is it again our self-preservation at work?