When someone commits to a new lifestyle things often start well. Weight loss happens quickly, there is a feeling of positivity and focus and it all comes quite naturally. But at some point things change. Things go from feeling easy and comfortable to a little less comfortable. Cravings and temptations start to mount up, and saying no becomes more of a challenge. Old habits resurface and something that felt so easy and natural turns into a struggle. Despite best intentions bad decisions are made, decisions we regret, and progress is stalled. It during this period of struggle that doubt starts to grow, and many people give up.
But did you know that this struggle is an essential part of change?
When people are confronted with this struggle it can often be misinterpreted as a sign of weakness and lack of willpower. But that’s really not the case. This struggle between old and new habits is where real change occurs. It’s been said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but it takes many more to get rid of old ones. In fact research suggests that once habits are formed, they remain as physical pathways in our brain permanently. That doesn’t mean that we can’t ever override them, but it makes sense that they will resurface from time to time no matter how much we try to stop them. This is at the heart of your struggle.
The struggle that occurs when changing parts of one’s lifestyle happens because of conflict between new habits and old ones. Stress, fatigue and emotion are all things that can fire up old habits, and it takes a lot of disciple to identify what’s happening, and resist these old habits. Despite our best intentions however, old habits will at some point resurface. But that doesn’t mean that the battle has been lost or that you have been defeated. It doesn’t mean that you are back to square one and that you need to start again from scratch next week. All it means is that struggle and conflict is happening between old and new, and this is a unavoidable part of change and development. The quicker you get back on track by letting go of slip ups and mistakes, the quicker you will strengthen new heathy habits and the easier things become.
Without struggle real change doesn’t happen.