Are You Addicted to Change?

The Impulse to Change

9 Signs you may be addicted to change and what you can do about it

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This post is difficult. You may wonder if I feel hopeless. I don’t.

Why is it difficult?

Because no matter which way I come at it, changing myself is hard and sometimes it feels impossible.

Change is hard. Keeping a change going is even harder. Damned hard.

Often we change, then we change back. Lose weight, then gain back a few pounds. Stop swearing, then swear some more. Cut back on your alcohol use, then drink again. Slow down, then start speeding again.

I believe that when we embrace our weakness, we become stronger. If we admit how hard change is, that will make us better able to change.

I believe that when we embrace our weakness, we become stronger. If we admit how hard change is, that will make us better able to change.

Why do we keep trying to change if it is so hard to keep the change going? Advertisers and change-agents promise new strategies, pills, programs all based on this powerful desire.

Addicted to change?

How do you know if you are addicted to change?

As humans, we long for change and we can even become addicted to it. More correctly, we can become addicted to new things. Psychologists call it Neophilia: a desire for novelty and to adapt to new situations. There’s even a test for it, and you can find it here. I summarize the test below:

  1. Family history of hyper-change
  2. Risk-taking behavior
  3. Overly wired to technology
  4. Can’t say no – over do it with food, alcohol, and/or drugs.
  5. Always on the move
  6. Impulsive buyer
  7. Crave change and quickly bored
  8. Love ’em and leave ’em – a history of short term relationships
  9. Walk on the wild side

We can see the addiction to change in a constant thirst for the latest iPhone, the newest smartwatch and the latest apps. Or, it can be more subtle. For years, I was addicted to the allure of change. I attended conferences, listened to motivational programs, and set regular goals. I was busy, but I’m not sure that I really made any real changes.

Some people may be addicted to new things, being busy with new routines, instead of genuinely working to make change happen in their lives.

Some people may be addicted to new things, being busy with new routines, instead of genuinely working to make change happen in their lives.

You and I can be busy for years, but not make the changes we want to make.

What can you do about it?

First, Don’t google about the science of change. You will get hit after hit that will direct you to different ways to be more successful. Being successful is different than sticking with the changes you want to make. Change may be at the heart of success, but it is so easy to focus on the success rather than the more fundamental change.

Know that as soon as you think about change, another part of your brain will actively try to distract you. Why? Because change is painful and difficult. It is more fun to imagine ourselves being successful rather than making changes.

Know that as soon as you think about change, another part of your brain will actively try to distract you. Why? Because change is painful and difficult. It is more fun to imagine ourselves being successful rather than making changes.

Second, Your emotional state is really important. You need to get your positive emotions working for you. Think about three situations where you have made a change that you have maintained. It could be in addiction recovery, losing a certain level of weight, making a habit of exercise, or reducing your criticism of others.

Hang onto these stories.

Third, I will say more about this in a future post: use the Ebenezer Effect. Fast Forward yourself 20 years in the future. Imagine that you continue with your current behavior. Make a note of the ways your life is not what you want.

Now compare the two pictures. How is the future you the kind of person you want to be? And how is the future you different than your preference?

Fourth, I am saying this to myself: put away the cell phone. Cell phones are a breeding ground for the newest app, update, the next email, the text that you just have to respond to. Truth is, none of it is an emergency. It can all wait. You and me, we aren’t that important that our cell phones can’t be put down for a little while. Find a way to get some distance from it. Choose a day and put it aside. Or keep it out of your bedroom at night. Or take an hour break from it during the day so you can concentrate.

Last, Be with the people you most want to be like. You will become like those you are closest to, so be intentional with the people you hang around with. This can include your family, your coworkers and your friends. It can also include groups that you are a part of.

Most importantly, don’t get down on yourself if you have difficulty making changes. It is hard for all of us. Sometimes you are not ready for a change, or the level of change you are trying to make. Or maybe, you need to use some of the approaches that I have listed. Or perhaps, and most importantly, you need to give yourself some grace and compassion.

Keep it Real

If you liked this post, you will enjoy Recovery and Happiness, and Do You Know How High Expectations Will Hurt Your Well-Being?

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain.

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Photo by Conal Gallagher

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