Change is Uncomfortable

One of the hardest parts of committing to a new routine is that, no matter how small the change, it will cause you at least some amount of discomfort. Whether it’s merely setting aside the extra time or something harder like changing your self image and letting yourself make big-jump changes, your body is probably going to give you some uncomfortable, scary feedback.

That’s okay. And actually, that is your sign to go ahead and lean in harder.

I think about this lizard brain aversion theory a lot, and while reading this week I came across a reference to Virginia Satir’s Change Model. She was a family therapist, and developed her model based on her study and research of families and the impact of change in their lives. Her model looks like so:

Chart of Satir Change Model

As you can see, this model shows us the valley that inevitably occurs when a new routine or life change gets hard. And the risk we inevitably run during this chaotic, difficult part of the journey, is getting so overwhelmed by our body’s resistance to change that we quit, never knowing whether the changes we made were actually going to work or not.

Author Scott Berkun recently discussed the Satir model on his blog, and did an excellent job of summing up why aborting a new routine mission is often a dire mistake:

“Inexperienced people often confuse the chaos phase as a failure in their choice. And if they quit early, assuming “chaos” means they made a mistake, and revert back to the old ways of doing things, they likely will never have the confidence to try something that bold again. They now confuse the chaos phase with failure. This is a kind of self inflicted learned helplessness, where the necessary cost to improve and grow is now too psychologically expensive.”

So – that sounds pretty scary. But, look at what he’s saying! Just keep going. The chaos is natural! Not knowing if you’re doing it right, is natural! It’s just a part of changing your status quo. When fear or inertia starts to hold you back, lean in. That’s just a sign that you’re moving forward.