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Choosing Familiar Discomfort over the Unknown: Why We Resist Change

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

Change is hard. Let's be real, it's one of the most uncomfortable things we can experience as human beings. We like routine, predictability, and familiarity. Even if the routine is unhealthy or unsatisfying, it can be hard to break away from what we know. We all have moments when we feel stuck in a rut, trapped in our own habits, and unable to break free from the monotony of daily life. We know we should be doing something different, something that will help us grow and thrive, but for some reason, we just can't seem to get started.

Why is it so hard to make meaningful changes in our lives? Why do we often choose familiar discomfort over the unknown?

I've realized that the difficulty isn't necessarily with the change itself, but rather the discomfort that comes with it. It's the feeling of uncertainty, the fear of the unknown, and the discomfort of doing something different that can be overwhelming. We often choose to stay in our discomfort zone because it's familiar. We may not like how we feel, but at least we know how to handle it. We know what to expect, and that can be comforting for our minds.

We stay in unhappy jobs, unhealthy relationships, and unfulfilling habits because it's easier than taking a risk and facing the discomfort of the unknown. We blame external forces for our lack of progress, when really it's our own internal resistance to change that's holding us back.

So how do we do it? How do we choose the discomfort of change over the comfort of the familiar?

First, it's important to take responsibility for our feelings. It's easy to blame external factors for our unhappiness, but ultimately we are in control of our own lives. We have the power to make changes and take risks, even if it's uncomfortable. Acknowledging this responsibility can be empowering and help us move forward. We need to recognize that our current habits and behaviours are not serving us. This takes self-awareness, and self-inquiry (without harsh judgement). We need to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we are not fulfilled with our current habits. We need to identify what we want to change and why it is important to us. There needs to be a strong "why" behind the changes.

Second, it can be helpful to reframe how we think about discomfort. Instead of seeing it as a negative thing, we can start to view discomfort as a necessary part of growth and change. We can retrain our minds to associate discomfort with progress and growth, rather than fear and stagnation.

Next, we need to create a plan for change. This plan should be realistic and achievable, but it should also challenge us to step outside of our comfort zones. It should be something that we are excited about and motivated to achieve. But here's the thing: even when we have a plan in place, it can be hard to get started. We might procrastinate, make excuses, or simply avoid taking action. We might convince ourselves that we'll start tomorrow, or next week, or next month. Finally, we can start small. Taking small steps towards change can help us build confidence and momentum. It can also make the discomfort feel more manageable.

This is where I find humour can be a powerful tool. Sometimes, we need to stop taking ourselves to seriously, laugh at ourselves and our own ridiculousness. We need to recognize that we are being silly, and that we are the only ones standing in our own way without shaming ourselves.

For example, let's say you know that getting out of bed when you wake up feels good, but instead, you choose to laze and scroll through social media for an hour. You know that you're not being productive, and that you're wasting valuable time, but you just can't seem to motivate yourself to get up and start the day.

Instead of beating yourself up about it, try laughing at yourself. Acknowledge how silly it is that you're choosing to waste time on social media instead of doing something that will make you feel good. And then, take action. Get out of bed, stretch, and start your day. Once you start moving, you'll feel better and more motivated to tackle whatever challenges come your way.

Choosing the unknown over the familiar (even if it's not serving you) is not easy, but it is necessary for growth and change. By recognizing that our current habits and behaviors are not serving us, creating a realistic plan for change, and using humor to laugh at ourselves and stay motivated, we can break free from the monotony of daily life and embrace the unknown. So go ahead, choose unknown discomfort, and watch how you start to grown and expand.

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