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Why change is so hard for us

Why are changes in life so difficult? 9 reasons and tips to counteract them

Why is change so hard - and how can you allow it and accept it more easily? Every one of us has wanted to change something in our lives. Be it more Spending time in nature, the Quit smokingIt can be a change of job, dropping 10 kilos, using less plastic waste or getting out of an unsatisfactory relationship. Ultimately, however, accepting the change and making it successfully is associated with numerous obstacles and overcoming.

But why are changes often so difficult to manage? Why does change require overcoming? Why do relapses occur? And how can I learn to embrace and accept change? In this article, I'll answer these questions for you. In the first part, you'll learn about the factors that make change so difficult from a psychological perspective. In the second part, you'll get practical tips on how to counteract them.

  1. Psychology of change
  2. Allow changes
  3. Closing words

Notice: This article links change at the individual level with change in society as a whole.

Why change is so difficult - 4 psychological factors

As promised, we'll start directly with the things that often make change in life so incredibly difficult. The following psychological reasons are decisive in most cases.

1. change means destabilization

To understand change, we must first understand what the opposite of change is: habit. Circumstances or behaviors to which we are accustomed give us a sense of security and stability. In this context, we interpret every change as destabilization and thus as negative, even if the habit exists to our own disadvantage.

You've probably experienced it yourself: When you think about the change or are at the beginning of the change process, you think of all kinds of rational reasons why the change is not a good idea after all. Maybe you even feel it physically, you feel stressed and insecure. However, the reasons you tell yourself are usually not real, they are just natural reactions of your body trying to maintain a stable system.

Tip: Do you sometimes hear people say: "I alone cannot change anything" - In the linked article you will learn why this is only a weak excuse.

2. fear of the unknown and the new

Fear of the unknown or new occurs particularly often when you are still at the beginning of the change process and have not yet dealt with the topic at all or only superficially. The so-called Neophobia can cause you not to start with the change or to rule it out right away, even if you know that it would do you good. This can be fear of a new phase in your life, or it can also be Fear of new tasks act.

3. your social environment

We humans are influenced, whether we like it or not, to a large extent by our environment. Especially close relationships like yours Family, friends and your partner have an influence on your change process. In practice, this point is often difficult to manage.

It can therefore be very difficult, for example, to To renounce meat. If you are in an environment where meat in the form of sausages and steaks is part of everyday life, you will put yourself in a situation of exclusion by giving up meat, which your body interprets evolutionarily as a danger. In addition, people will start to try to stop you from making the change. For example, they will argue that it is healthier to eat meat, or they will make fun of you so that you are constantly tempted to eat meat after all. Be aware that people are not trying to stop you from changing out of spite. For them, your ambition to change simply means changing their stable system as well, which they instinctively try to avoid.

Often there is also the fear of looking worse, for example, if you decide to do sports every day in nature, but your environment is composed of convinced sports muffle.

Tip: Feel free to take a look at the article about vegan prejudicesto learn more about the example with the meat renunciation.

4. the lack of foresight

Perhaps you have an idea that certain things are "not good for you" or the environment, but you are not aware of the exact consequences in the long term. Many older people who do not exercise throughout their lives feel this painfully when their bodies deteriorate all the more quickly in old age and the decades of lack of exercise become noticeable. The lack of images and emotions regarding the consequences provide for a Only low motivation, so that the change often does not even begin

Brief digression on the psychology of change in relation to sustainability

Change processes in society as a whole can also be explained by the principle of a lack of foresight, for example in the case of sustainability. The origin of the term "sustainability" is interesting here. It originated in forestry and was coined in the early 18th century against the backdrop of an increasing national shortage of timber (see also Deforestation) is defined. Most trees need a very long time before they are "ready to cut", i.e. they are fully grown and can be processed into timber. A spruce, for example, needs 80-120 years. The forester who plants a spruce himself will therefore usually not be able to use it during his lifetime. Thinking beyond the span of one's own life causes difficulties for many people. This is also the reason why limited resources are used so wastefully in many places, and why the change in society as a whole toward more sustainable action as difficult and surrounded by conflicting opinions.

Allow and accept change in life with practical tips

Allow and accept change

We now know why change is so difficult for us. But what can we do to make them easier in the future? Of course, I've also put together a few tips to help you strengthen your subconscious and mindset, and to allow and accept change.

1. take smaller steps

Often the fear of the unknown is so great, the change seems so huge that you don't even start or you keep putting off the change. For example, you plan to spend more time in nature. But now you think you'd have to free up several hours a week to do it, move your partner, and eat a healthier diet to make it happen.

However, the most important thing is the very first, smallest step. In this case, for example, it would be a good idea to go for a walk for ten minutes after work. So you really just go out into nature for ten minutes, and then you go home. This first step should be really extremely easy for you, so you can do it without any problems.

Once you've taken the first step, consider the next tiny stepFor example, this time to stay outside for 12 minutes. With this method you take away your fear of the unknown and develop a new habit step by step.

2. find a mentor and make a social commitment.

One of the most effective ways to establish a new habit is to find a mentor, learn from them, and make a social commitment. This can be people in your environment or external people. The learning effect happens much faster if you have a direct role model, a person who supports you, than if you try to do everything yourself. Optimally, this is a Person who has already successfully made the change you also desire.

3. recognize the right moment

To successfully make a change in life, it is important to recognize the moment by actually changing your behavior. Surely you have already Resolutions then broke that resolution and then reflected on your actions, this time resolving to do it differently next time. However, the change does not happen while you are making resolutions or reflecting on your actions. The moment of change can only occur during the action. In practice, there is always a certain moment when you hesitate to do or not to do the thing. This is the moment when you can change your behavior. Be aware of this way of functioning and focus on recognizing and influencing the moment of decision.

4. Change your environment

As mentioned above, your environment may be against you changing. If they are particularly close people, your partner, your parents, or other close confidants, it may be very difficult for you to make the change.

Here is where you need to decide: How important is change to you? How much are you influenced by your environment? Will you be able to get your environment to support you or is the only possibility that you change your environment?

Making profound change in your environment is never easy. Usually people are more accepting of change when you are already on your way. Therefore, don't ask for permission or make announcements, but start with your new behavior and observe how those around you react to it.

5. use the power of painful images

A very effective method for changing your trade, it can be, make you aware of the painful consequences if the change in life does not happen. It is only through emotional stimulation, such as seeing images on television of children swimming in a river full of plastic waste or of Chicks that are shredded, an emotional reaction is triggered in us that can animate us to act.

This is e.g. also the reason why the EU decided to print disgusting and shocking pictures of smokers' legs, lung tubes etc. on cigarette packages. The pictures trigger a shock emotion, and smoking rates have dropped since then.

So, if you want to change your behavior, consciously visualize the painful consequences of not changing. For example, you can vegan documentaries view, in which the consequences of the Factory farming be described with vivid images. You can engage with people who were at the same point as you, but did not make the change. Perhaps there is still an impulse in you to want to suppress the process of change. Through this step, the occupation with the negative image of the future "ideally" creates so much pain that you get a push to complete the change process.

Tip: The Dominion film is very effective, for example, when it comes to eating less meat or no meat at all in the future. The images from factory farming burn themselves into your mind and won't let you go.

Allow and accept changes in life - now.

Why is change so hard? Accept them

Change is often difficult - but there is no reason to be afraid of new tasks. Now you can hopefully better explain to yourself why change in life is often so difficult and understand the psychology behind it. Optimally, you already have some ideas on how to implement your desired change. You are aware of the pitfalls such as the emergence of false, rational objections or the role of your environment, and despite this, you can bring about the change.

Keep in mind that true change in your life never comes easy. Real change usually takes a long time and requires discipline and self-reflection. But it is worth it, because behind it waits a new quality of life for you and your environment. Be yourself the change you wish to see in the world. Good luck!

Best regards,


PS: We have also sent you a List of quotes about positive change put together for you. It's sure to give you an extra boost of motivation.

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!


Simon Rösgen

Simon is a freelance writer and copywriter in the fields of psychology, health, marketing and travel. In 2017, he went freelance and has since been writing for the best-known blogs in the German-speaking world. He lives in Vienna.

1 thought on “Warum sind Veränderungen im Leben so schwer? 9 Gründe und Tipps zum Gegensteuern”

  1. Dear Simon,
    I agree with you in all written points! Only if we change ourselves, we can still protect the environment and prevent e.g. climate change.
    I go into the woods every week and clean up other people's trash so Mother Nature can find her way back.
    In my opinion, everyone can make a contribution to the environment.
    Keep up the good work, love reading your posts!

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