The core reason we don’t change has nothing to do with procrastination, life’s distractions, or what others have done to us. We can blame all these things, but we do so to hide the real reasons we don’t change. Procrastination is a way to avoid both the work and risk of change. Distractions aren’t valid because we can always make time for what’s most important to us. If you can’t make time for it, then it’s less important to you than other things you’re doing, including your spare-time hobbies. And we have all been hurt by others, but if they could be justifiably blamed for our failure to change, nobody would change for the better.
The real reason we don’t change is because we don’t want to change badly enough. We may want the rewards of change, but we have a misconception about them or our likelihood of achieving them. We may overestimate the work required or underestimate our ability to do it. The underlying theme of even these excuses, though, is that we are, on some level, comfortable with our situation.
We have a fear of the unknown. We tell ourselves all kinds of lies about what will be out there, waiting to destroy us. From the monster in our closet or under our bed to the irrational fears of a hypochondriac to the fear we’ll be shamed at work over the slightest failure, we tell ourselves lies about what the unknown has for us. We may hope for good in our future, but we don’t often expect it until it actually begins to materialize. When we do expect it, it’s hard to not go the other way and see only the good.
Life will probably hand you something in between. Not all good, but not nearly as bad as you had feared. Think about all the things you’ve feared the last few years. How many of them have actually come to pass? For me, I was afraid I’d never get married and I’d die alone. Now, that fear is gone. I’ve been afraid that certain symptoms might be worse than I originally thought, but I’ve always recovered. Most of the things I’ve feared have never happened.
Your fear is slowly killing you. Many (though not all) of the changes you want to make are being hindered by your fear of the unknown. That fear is whispering to you that you’re better off where you are now because at least you know where you are. You know it hurts, but you also know you can live with it.
In the next post, we’ll look at how it got so easy to live with and what to do to change your expectations.