Why is Change So Hard? Be Patient & Trust the Process
“Change takes time, and when it happens… it feels like magic!” ~ Maria Connolly
Sometimes, when I’m coaching a client, it seems like nothing changes. Or if some change happens it doesn’t seem lasting. Why is change so hard and takes so long? Often this is because there are individual patterns that are in the way of lasting change. They are deeply ingrained and insidious.
There’s a war going on inside…the client’s good faith and best intentions are competing with long-held, adaptive and limiting beliefs and behaviors. This war can be won by systematically developing practices that change who you are at your core. These strong core values provide the support and structure for real change. But this does take time. If someone is promising overnight success, they’re not talking about real change.
Take for example what just happened with one of my clients…
Karen (not her real name), a successful entrepreneur I worked with a few years ago, called me recently to let me know that ”Maria, I’m finally getting the results I was after when we were working together!” She was thrilled, re-inspired and a bit taken back.
Three years ago, when we began the coaching journey together, Karen was motivated and hopeful. After a few months of struggling to make the changes she wanted to make, she became disillusioned and discouraged. Even though she was starting to develop a different, better, kinder relationship with herself, the rewards were not coming fast enough. She lamented, “Why is change so hard? Why does it have to take so long?”
You can’t rush transformation. You plant a seed and there’s a set process — the seed grows to become a plant that flowers or produces fruit. You can water it, fertilize it, pull weeds to keep down the competition, but you can’t speed up the process.
And when a butterfly lays her eggs, you know it’s going to take time for the life in that egg to go through its many stages of transformation until it reaches its beautiful butterfly state. Pasting plastic wings on a caterpillar isn’t going to make it! It has to be the real deal.
Even as a toddler, you had the body wisdom to keep working with the process. Stand up, fall down. Get back up. Balance. Take a step. Fall down. Get back up. Grab onto your support. Take a step… until the day you finally walked.
“Rather than focusing on why change is so hard or why change takes so long, I invite you to focus on how you can enjoy the process. Because if you enjoy it, you’ll stick with it.”
~ Maria Connolly
Transformation takes time. It also takes courage, renewed motivation, and focus. It demands consistency — putting one foot in front of the other, doing the practice even when you don’t want to, pushing through the hard places, accepting plateaus and setbacks, and getting up again and again.
As Richard Strozzi-Heckler reminds us: “The path of the Warrior is lifelong, and mastery is often simply staying on the path.”
The good news is that Karen did stay on the path and all of a sudden, like magic (years of relentless work looks like magic to the untrained eye), she finds herself in a different life, doing the things she wanted to do.
Would you like to know what Karen was working on all those years? Here are the three fundamental steps that she’s using to bring real and lasting change:
- Awareness: we need to become aware of what we are doing now that is producing undesirable results. Often, this involves becoming more mindful – paying attention, without judging. And this requires a good dose of self-compassion and a bit of humor.
- Interference: once we know what we’re doing that creates the problem, we need to run interference — we need to disrupt the old pattern. This is often challenging because as I mentioned before, we have developed some of our patterns out of survival and they are deeply ingrained.
- Practice: then we must practice and practice often, and practice even when and especially when we don’t want to. We need to make it what we do.
Let this wisdom from Maya Angelou soak in, “Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”
As a coach, do you struggle with supporting your clients long-term, while they battle this inner war? Do you still feel this internal war yourself? I’d love to be in your corner, giving you strategies that keep you getting up and taking your next step. If that appeals to you, why not take advantage of my free 30-minute consultation and see if my coaching partnership is what you’re looking for?
Thank you for the photo Nikola Jovanovic