Mastering change is critical when escaping from depression, quieting a raging panic attack, or getting a work promotion.
The term, “change is hard” is such an overused cliché that we take it as universal truth. But change is commonplace and not that difficult.
People change every day. Families moves to new homes, workers advance to new roles with increased responsibilities, job commuters switch from car to rail, and families attend new churches. While there may be some friction, most of these transitions are easy.
That’s because the path for change is already built into your brain.
Neuroplasticity is the science that studies the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by creating new neural pathways.
For instance, if one hemisphere of your brain is damaged, the good portion will automatically assume many of the roles of the damaged part. Neuroplasticity, or brain malleability, is also responsible for the habits we develop and the changes we make.
Each time you decide to take an action, signals travel from one neuron across a gap or synapse where it is picked up by another neuron. This happens billions of times across our brains.
The brain memorizes the pathways of the action and the more it is repeated, the stronger the path becomes. That path becomes the blueprint for your new habituated action.
The key to change is to take massive action on your decisions, and let your brain build stronger and stronger pathways for the change to become integrated as part of your normal routine.
For example, I recently developed a habit of snacking on toasted English Muffins and jelly before going to bed. It didn’t take me long to become addicted to my tasty interlude. After several months, I noticed an unhealthy weight gain and a harder time getting to sleep.
I realized my late-night snacks had to go. That realization was big, because, if there is any point that slows down change, it is the pre-change mental decision period where we are weighing if this is something you want to do or want to ignore.
That hesitance is easier to overcome by concentrating on the outcome. In my case I wanted to feel better and get a better night’s sleep.
Once I began my new routine of skipping the muffins, the rest was easy. Within days the new pathways developed and I was used to rejecting the unnecessary goodies.
Gaining comfort with change is especially useful in today’s world. The workplace is constantly changing to meet customer demands, and with the rise of the digital workforce, staff and executives must increase their abilities to adapt, collaborate, and operate in transparent environments.
Whether your desire is to improve your personal relations or build a happier, more relaxed life free of depression, the first step is to recognize that change is easier than you think.