Change is upon us, with more to come. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Still – good, bad, in-between – mood and anxiety disorder sufferers often struggle with change. Yep, change can be really hard. Why is that?

I think one of the biggest reasons change can be really hard is the fact that it requires leaving our comfort zone…

Bob Dylan sang about it in “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” So did David Bowie in “Changes.” He even parenthetically added, “Turn and face the strange.”

Change is a dynamic as old as the universe. Actually, it’s at the very foundation of existence. Fact is, if human beings and our environment didn’t change, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

But as natural and necessary as change is, many mood and anxiety disorder folk can’t stand it – even to the extreme of egging-on threats to their well-being.

We need to talk about it…

Change & Neurobiology

How ’bout a little background? Change – just like thoughts, feelings, and behavior – is all about neurobiology.

We’re not going to get into a complicated bit, but the ability to change seems to me to involve executive functioning. Yes, a cognitive process that allows us to facilitate the attainment of our chosen goals.

Thing is, change could be about assorted combinations of several executive functions, including attentional control, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility.

And all of the action is thought to take place in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and likely other locations.

6 Reasons Change Can Be Really Hard

stressed by coronavirusOkay, now that we have some background information in our back pockets, let’s get down to the task at hand.

Oh, and keep in mind we’re discussing this within the context of what many mood or anxiety disorder sufferers may experience.

So, then, why does change have to be really hard? Out of many possibilities, here are six biggies…

  1. Neurobiological Disorders: Given the background info we just discussed, we have to consider the impact of neurobiological situations that influence executive functioning. That would include cognitive disorders, such as the dementias. And we have to toss-in disorders that we may well be dealing with: OCD, anxiety, depression, bipolarity, ADHD, etc.
  2. Comfort: I think one of the biggest reasons change can be really hard is the fact that it requires leaving our comfort zone – even if that comfort zone isn’t really all that comfy. Just thinking about doing that can evoke bone-chilling fear for a mood or anxiety disorder sufferer. As I said earlier, change can be avoided to the extreme of generating threats to our well-being.
  3. Habits & Patterns: We’re creatures of habit and patterns. From an evolutionary – survival – perspective it makes all the sense in the world. I mean, what better way to avoid that saber-toothed tiger than to always take the same path well-away from its cave. But from a change point-of-view, habits and patterns can make life very difficult.
  4. Lack of Information: Change is difficult to pull-off if we don’t have sufficient factual information. In other words, “Since I apparently have no reason to, why should I change?”
  5. Denial: Okay, so we may have all the factual information in the world, and understand it well. But why would we change if for whatever reason we deny the facts – the circumstances?
  6. Laziness: Ah, nothing like a good old-fashioned case of the “I don’t feel like its.” I suppose we could throw-in non-pathological procrastination here. What can I say? It unfortunately happens.

It’s Time for Change

For reasons obvious to everyone, change is definitely upon us. And, yes, there’s more to come. But even if the elephant in the room didn’t exist, change is an essential – necessary – part of life.

Change is something to anticipate and freely roll with – and perhaps enjoy.

As we always say here, a problem can’t be solved if we don’t know its nature – or that we’re smack-dab in the middle of it. And now that we’ve come to understand why change can be so hard, we can work toward solutions.

So let’s go.

Important! As you’re tossing around the notion of change, be sure to read Chipur article 10 Things to Think About When CHANGE Is Knocking at the Door.

Are you looking for a secure place to hang your hat and chat? Consider joining the private Chipur Facebook group.

Maybe you want to catch up on some reading during at-home time. Chipur would like to help.

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