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What's so H.A.R.D. about Change?

posted 18 Feb 2013, 12:52 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Feb 2013, 12:52 ]
Why does change have to be so darn hard? We struggle to lose weight, get in
shape, eliminate debt and stay (happily) married. Health issues such as
heart disease, depression, addiction and obesity - preventable illnesses -
are rampant. Why is it so hard to change?

The answer to this question describing eight strategies for success can be

found in my new book, Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.?, now available in

Change IS hard. And it's hard because, as humans, our brains are wired a
certain way. When we understand how the mind works, we can use this
knowledge to make change a little easier and stop battling with ourselves.
We can use our minds to work WITH us instead of AGAINST us. We can learn to
become the master of our thoughts and emotions instead of being at their

H.A.R.D.C  is an acronym that stands for how we are enslaved by our Habits
and Attachments and struggle with Resistance and Discouragement. In order to
change, we must face these functions of the mind. It's not that our brains
are purposely trying to hurt us and hold us back; it's just how the mind
operates. They are games the mind plays with us. Accept it. Learn about them
and then use the success strategies to help you to play these mind games and


We are wired to keep things the same, to create routines and structure to
get things done. Habits allow us to function well and to manage multiple
things throughout the course of the day.  Every time you try something new,
you have to concentrate - all of your attention is required to learn the new
activity, be it a new route to work or learning to type. After much
practice, you can perform the task without thinking about it. It has become

In the process, thousands of neurological connections have formed in your
brain in order to make this activity 'automatic'. You now know how to type
without paying attention, for example, and perform the task subconsciously.
Iin other words, you don't need to focus on where to put your fingers and
which key represents what letter. You just type.

Those neurological connections will need to be replaced in order to change
to something new. It requires consistent attention and persistent action,
something most people do not do well. When we are learning something for the
first time, those neurological connections don't exist; but when you want to
change how you have been doing something, that's when it becomes a challenge
because you are 'hard-wired' to think and act a certain way.


We cling to people, places and things. Most people have a difficult time
letting go and going with the flow of life. We want and expect things (and
people) to last forever. We hold on tight to our youth as our bodies age,
our ideas even when we are wrong, and our relationships even when we are
very unhappy. To detach would require we accept things as they are, not as
we wish they were. We hurt ourselves greatly when we hold onto our ideas
about how things 'should' be as opposed to how they are.

Emotions are the key to identifying attachments. The harder you fight, the
more stubborn you are, the more attached you are.


Resistance shows up in many ways including self-doubt, judgment,
procrastination and excuses. Resistance is FEAR. Identifying your fear is
the first step. Notice the behavior pattern such as making excuses or
procrastinating, then name the fear so you can tame it. This is just another
way the mind plays with you and keeps you stuck. As you begin to change or
even think of changing something, you are threatening the status quo.
Adrenaline is released just as if you were in real danger causing the
'fight, flight or freeze' reaction. And you respond with resistance.

But you are bigger than your fear. You just have to learn some tools to
stand your ground.


We get discouraged when things don't progress as quickly as we'd like them
too. We may have unrealistic expectations for just how long something will
take. We may think it will take a few weeks to find a new job when it can
take many months. Our relationship with time causes us to become frustrated.
We are impatient. And if we are not very good at acknowledging what success
we do experience along the way, we will quit even though we may have come
quite far.

Change is H.A.R.D. C because we succumb to what we know and give up. It just
seems easier than to fight for what we want. Motivation is crucial for
success and for continued progress toward our goals.

To be successful at making a change in your life, befriend your mind.
Understand a little bit about how it works so that you can learn how to use
it to assist you in creating the kind of life you love and enjoying the
progress. Your mind is a tool for you to master and use to your advantage.

Julie Donley, MBA, BSN, RN   For resources and to