Why Change is Hard and How Coaching Helps

Is there a habit you are trying to break or a goal you are trying to work towards? But you keep finding yourself back at square one? There’s  a reason for that. Your body is actually very resistant to change and designed to maintain the status quo. It’s a principal called homeostasis.

Homeowhat?

Homeostasis is state of steady internal stability, balance or equilibrium.

Let’s take your body temperature for example. From a physiological point of view, your body is designed to maintain a stable temperature. When you are cold your body shivers. When you are hot your body sweats. All in attempt to keep your temperature at a cool and comfortable 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

All of this happens automatically and unconsciously in the background. You don’t even need to think about it.

The same principal of homeostasis is at play when it comes to how you perceive, predict and respond to the world. Your brain is designed to learn, remember and repeat all in an attempt to keep you comfortable.

Like maintaining your temperature, this process of adapting to your world happens automatically and unconsciously in the background.

You Adapt to Avoid Pain and Seek Pleasure

At birth, your brain has billions of neurons but limited connections between them. Starting from a very young age, as you learn important information about what is pleasurable and what is painful your brain begins to make connections. These connections, or neural pathways, link bits of information in your brain such as fire = pain = avoid and cookie = pleasure = approach.

Once you learn these things, you hardwire them so you don’t need to think about them again. It’s a principal called automaticity and it’s  the reason you can sometimes find yourself at the grocery store without actually remembering how you got there.

The Early Connections you Make Last a Lifetime

Here’s the kicker. The early connections you make in your brain, especially the ones before age 8 and during puberty are designed to last a lifetime. Your brain is rich in a protein called myelin during these times which essentially makes neural superhighways out of the connections you make.

So when you take your 40-year-old self into your workplace and try to pursue your 40-year-old-goals, you are actually filtering them through your 12-year-old brain. Perceiving through the eyes of a 12-year-old, predicting based on adolescent sense-making and automatically responding based on neural patterns you made decades ago.

It’s the reason why you might feel like you just don’t have the skills to move forward. It’s the reason why you can find yourself stuck where you are, your brain butting up against an invisible hurdle it just can’t get over.

Change is Possible

Even though change is hard, it’s still possible. You can always create new pathways but it takes awareness, courage, practice and repetition. It takes help to see what you currently can’t see. It takes support to hiccup what has been designed to operate on autopilot.

This is where a good coach helps. Their role is to help you get clear on what you want, figure out what’s getting the way and create new practices and habits that cultivate new connections, new neural pathways in the brain

It’s what Viktor Frankl calls the space between stimulus and response and it’s essentially the pathway to freedom. I’m super passionate around coaching this stuff – one day I’ll get into what motivates me – but for now I’m here. If there’s a new road you want to make towards the life that’s most meaningful for you, I’ve got you and I know the way.

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