Episode 19: Why It Is so Difficult to Change
When we think about all the things we need or want to change, it can become daunting. But often we make it more difficult to change than it has to be.
In this episode of the Martial Art of Self podcast, we talk about the things that can stand in our way of self-change and how to become aware of these and not let them drag us down when we become inspired to change our lives for the better.
We specifically look at how our thoughts and past can turn against us, loading an additional weight onto our shoulders.
I share a brief story about how I faced such a moment of my mind turning against me when I wanted to change a simple thing in my life, and the lessons I sourced from this instance.
Music by Fidelis Spies
Table of Contents
[00:00:00] Episode Intro
[00:00:44] Why it is so difficult to change
[00:01:08] When past failures shoot back
[00:02:43] Failures from the past, dooming the present and future?
[00:03:11] Losing confidence in our ability to change
[00:03:59] The old self taking over again
[00:04:52] Listening to your discouraging thoughts
[00:05:37] Deciding to move instead of listening to thoughts
[00:06:02] Starting small
[00:07:33] Doing something that is of self-movement to get out of the mind
[00:08:03] Lessons Learned
[00:08:08] You don’t need to listen to the discouraging voices
[00:08:36] I don’t have to stay where I am just because I once decided
[00:08:58] A decision can be changed any time
[00:09:22] Change comes down to me deciding to
[00:10:08] The is no universal law of having to stay with a ‘bad’ decision
[00:10:54] How to change in the middle of an experience?
[00:11:51] Every new moment is a chance to start over
[00:12:09] Change can feel daunting in the beginning
[00:12:25] When your past is against you
[00:12:44] Don’t take your mind personally
[00:13:37] Focus on what you can change instead of everything you did wrong
[00:14:20] The is no limit to creativity in the methods to facilitate change
[00:14:29] We are masters of making things more difficult
[00:14:56] The pitfall of waiting for the right mood
[00:15:35] Episode Ending
[00:16:13] Episode Outro
[00:00:00] Welcome to the Martial Art of Self podcast, a podcast about bringing the essence of martial arts back to self.
[00:00:10] Hi everyone, I’m Aldin. Welcome to another episode of the Martial Art of Self podcast. This is a show in which we explore how we can bring and apply the principles, philosophies and strengths of martial arts into our daily life.
[00:00:24] We focus on transforming our martial arts journey into more than just an external discipline.
[00:00:29] Self-understanding, self-awareness, self-change, and self-creation are the themes we aim at. We go beyond the martial application and straight into the heart of ourselves: How can we bring martial arts back to self?
Why it is so difficult to change
[00:00:44] Hi, everyone. In this episode, I would like to talk about the point that I’ve been reflecting recently, which is why is it so difficult to change?
[00:00:56] And I would like to expand on the realization that I had a while ago, where I was feeling, you know, it was being too difficult to change something which I wanted to change.
When past failures shoot back
[00:01:08] And this is particularly when I wanted to change something in me, a particular habit or pattern that I tend to go in, but then my mind decided to make it difficult to change by bringing up my past with all kinds of emotions, thoughts, memories, and all of these ending up de-motivating me from pushing forward with the change that I wanted to do and wanted to undergo.
[00:01:30] And basically I wanted to change this pattern in me. Maybe some of you can relate where I tend to throughout my days get these long periods where I feel bored and within that boredom I have, you know, the greatest intent to do something.
[00:01:49] Be it to train, you know, to get up and train more, have some extra added training sessions or hours, or I intend to, you know, learn a skill like programming or expand some existing skill.
[00:02:03] Be it some web development or be it painting, or drawing, or be it completely start learning a new skill or subject area. Things like mathematics or quantum physics or whatever it may be. And then I literally get stuck between the intent of wanting to do and having the resistance towards the process of getting to that point.
[00:02:28] Meaning of getting up and doing it, of learning it or facing the challenges on the way of starting to learn something new, of starting to do something, of starting to get into the mood, so to speak, of training and so on and so forth.
Failures from the past, dooming the present and future?
[00:02:43] And as I wanted to do that, my mind starting bringing up all kinds of emotions and thoughts, memories, past failures, et cetera, et cetera, and experiences of essentially, you know, de-motivating or depressing me, if you will, from pursuing the point of change by saying things like “You haven’t changed this point successfully in the past. So why do I think and believe I can successfully change it now?” and things like that.
Losing confidence in our ability to change
[00:03:11] And, I was looking at the point of when we start thinking about all the things we need to change inside ourselves, you know, our thoughts, the way we react, our behavior, our automated reactions to others or to things in our reality it can become a little bit daunting and we may start to lose confidence in even our ability to change.
[00:03:36]On this day, I was particularly feeling like that again. Where my mind was all over the place. Where all the emotional reactions started activating again, old ways of thinking started, you know, coming up inside my mind and started plaguing me again. Behaviors that I had already to a certain degree successfully changed in my past took the better of me again.
The old self taking over again
[00:03:59] And soon I found myself again in a mess. I was in a mess of my old self, if you will. I felt like I didn’t want to do anything in that day. I felt like I can’t change or be different, you know, because the situation can’t be different because in all these voices of self-diminishment inside my mind that started creeping up and coming up and judging me and judging that intent of wanting to change this habit even because ‘they told me so’, so to speak.
[00:04:30]But then later in the day, I sort of came back to my senses. The muddy water sunk to the, to the bottom of the ocean or, you know, of the glass, if you will. And I came back to my senses and I reminded myself that changing me doesn’t have to be more difficult than it is, you know, in actuality.
Listening to your discouraging thoughts
[00:04:52] And that I don’t need to listen to the thoughts telling me that I can’t, or that I shouldn’t attempt to change or better this thing within me, this point within me that I want to change, that I see a potential is able to be transcended or changed and make me as a person or my life or that of others even through that better and more fulfilling and more effective and sufficient.
[00:05:15]So I reminded myself that changing me doesn’t have to be more difficult than it is, and that I don’t need to listen to the thoughts telling me I can’t or I shouldn’t.
[00:05:22] And what I instead did is I decided to not listen to them, to not listen to the thoughts, to not listen and immediately believe and get hooked up on the emotional / feeling reactions or backchats, memories of past failures being thrown at me by my own mind, et cetera.
Deciding to move instead of listening to thoughts
[00:05:37] Instead I decided to just get up from my chair. I moved. I immediately applied the correction, which I saw in that moment of feeling bored and the correction was that whenever I feel bored, I would like to get up and do something productive.
[00:05:51] So I already had the solution within my mind and the steps that are necessary. Instead of thinking too much and waiting it out for too long, I immediately made the decision to act and move myself to act.
[00:06:02] So what I did is I decided to get up from my chair, cause I was sitting in a chair that moment. And then I move myself into the starting or beginning position of doing my martial arts training .
[00:06:14] Let’s say you were doing some form of Kata and you have an opening or starting position of doing that Kata. Or if it’s in Tai Chi, you have an opening or commencing position of starting the Tai Chi process. Or the beginning position of doing a training can be like, for example, in your routine your first thing that you do is some warm up or joint loosening exercises. So the starting or beginning position is getting yourself into that first loosening or joint-opening or stretching position.
[00:06:43] So, I moved myself into that beginning position for my martial arts training, and I kept at that decision. I held the decision within me and I, and I said to myself “I’m going to stick to this decision.”, “I am already up from the chair. So I have already moved myself from the initial inertia experience of sitting and not wanting and resisting to do this step. I’m already past that. So I’m already in this transition step from the previous state of sitting to now this new state of being in the beginning position. So I have already successfully moved past the, let’s say the most difficult barrier, which is, you know, the transition period from one idle or inertia induced state to this new state of moving or changing states or movement.”
Doing something that is of self-movement to get out of the mind
[00:07:33] And I reminded myself “Just keep doing something. Do my exercise.” Where just do something physically where it is me that is moving me to get out of this mind state that I was in of boredom and resistance.
[00:07:46] And instead of just waiting the boardroom out or waiting the resistance out, waiting the thoughts out, waiting the state that I was in out to resolve itself. Because it won’t unless I decide to resolve it myself and act on that decision to resolve it.
[00:08:03] So the lessons that I have learned from that moment are that:
You don’t need to listen to the discouraging voices
[00:08:08] I do not have to listen to my thoughts and my inner voices or that inner dialogue, which is discouraging me from changing something in me or in my life that I would like to change that I see the potential to change and better me as a person or the life of me or that of others through changing me and bettering me in the life of me before I even attempted in the physical at all – being discouraged already from the get go before I even give it a try or a new try, fresh, you know, unconditionally.
I don’t have to stay where I am just because I once decided
[00:08:36]Another point that this moment taught me that I can take from is that when I’m already so far as feeling depressed or feeling resistant to do something about the things that I wish I could change in me or my own world, I don’t need to stay in there just because I decided to feel that way sometime ago . Just because I made the decision doesn’t mean I have to carry on with it.
A decision can be changed any time
[00:08:58] I can change the decision any moment that I want. Just because I swiftly or even subconsciously or unconsciously decided or my mind decided, if you will, automatically that let’s say I will feel depressed or feel disempowered or uninspired or unmotivated or resistant – does not mean that I have to continue as such in that state.
Change comes down to me deciding to
[00:09:22] I can flip the switch and change my decision in any new moment. But it is me – that is the important thing – it is me that needs to make that decision that needs to decide to flip that switch.
[00:09:35]And that just because I decided something doesn’t mean I have to carry on with that decision.
[00:09:40] No. I mean, I can change my decision. I can make a new one.
[00:09:43] I mean, we can change decisions, right? So why not make a new decision? Who says we have to stay with the decision that we made if we know that that decision we made is not serving the best of us and we see that changing that decision to a new decision that is going to serve us better, that is going to make us better and then make us feel better or change our life for the better then why not make that the new decision?
The is no universal law of having to stay with a ‘bad’ decision
[00:10:08] There is no universal law or rule that says “Once you make a decision, you have to stick and continue with that decision.” No, we can change a decision. Just try it. I’ve tried it many times.
[00:10:20] In the middle of feeling something I can just decide, and I decided to change my experience, change my approach to the experience.
[00:10:28] Let’s say, for example, you know, sometimes we can get really reactive in anger, for example, being angry at something somebody did. Be it at work or in our training with our training partners, you know, being a little bit reckless and hitting a little bit too hard or too rough in a sparring session, or somebody messing something up at work or giving more work to you by not doing their part and so on and we can become reactive. Or in our relationships. Whatever it is.
How to change in the middle of an experience?
[00:10:54]In that moment, I mean, we decided to being angry and then we are angry, but there is no rule that says that just because we decided to be angry and feel angry, and just because we are feeling angry, we have to continue in the experience of anger.
[00:11:10] Because I have proven this to myself, for example, when I’m angry, and when I track back my decision to be angry, and I said “Oh, this is the moment where I decided to be angry just because the anger experience came up in me. And then I , in my thoughts, said ‘Okay, I am angry.’ – I made a decision to be angry there.” by accepting the anger as a state that I have to just live out.
[00:11:32] And instead in the middle of it, I decided “Okay, I will not be angry here. I will try to do something else. For example, understand the situation. Why did the situation happened the way it is? Why did I react in anger? Is there something I can do to direct the situation that I’m angry about and then try to do that?”
Every new moment is a chance to start over
[00:11:51]The point of this is that just because we decided on something doesn’t mean we have to continue living out that decision. We can change a decision to be something or someone new and have a new outlook on things, approach things in a new way – any new moment.
Change can feel daunting in the beginning
[00:12:09] So another thing that I learned from this moment is the reminder that changing something about oneself, one’s self-personality, or our life, our world, our relationships, job situation, et cetera, can feel and seem daunting in the beginning.
When your past is against you
[00:12:25] Because it may be totally new to us or because we have all of our past of not changing or not changing effectively or successfully for so long stacked up against us where our mind and our past literally become like our worst enemies, always telling us how we cannot do something.
Don’t take your mind personally
[00:12:44]Thus, to not take that personally or to believe it immediately and automatically. But to instead look past it. Understand that that is what our mind is doing. That that is what we’re doing unto ourselves, where we have become our own worst enemies, where we are just continuously trying to discourage ourselves or judge ourselves and belittle ourselves, or just make it more harder and more difficult to change for the better.
[00:13:14] To thus not take that personally or believe it. And to instead focus rather on shifting the perspective and instead of focusing on what we have not yet successfully changed or focusing on the problem, the problem being how much we have to change and how much crap, if you will, there is for us to change inside ourselves – to instead of focusing on the problem, rather focus on the solution.
Focus on what you can change instead of everything you did wrong
[00:13:37] Focus on “What can I change?” You know, what is it that I can change? It’s like a change in perspective and a change in focus, if you well. Instead of our focus and attention feeding the problem a hundred percent we are now redirecting that laser, if you will, that focus to feed the solution, to focus on the solution, to create a solution.
[00:13:58] We are channeling the energy as the focus towards a solution instead of just mulling over the problem over and over again, and telling ourselves the same story of how bad we are, how much we have to change, how we haven’t changed, how unsuccessful we have been changing for the better.
The is no limit to creativity in the methods to facilitate change
[00:14:20]And there is no limit to creativity here. There is no right or wrong technique or methods. Only more or less effective ones for oneself. Whatever works .
We are masters of making things more difficult
[00:14:29] Another point is that I’ve seen how we are quite skilled masters in making things far more difficult inside our minds than they actually have to be and are in actual physical reality.
[00:14:41] And that it is not so difficult to change as our mind may portray towards or wish to portray to us. Thus to not allow our mind to fool us with such imagery or words or thoughts about it being so difficult to change.
The pitfall of waiting for the right mood
[00:14:56] And also that, you know, I’ve noticed this within me, this ‘feeling motivated to change’ only when we were in a good mood or a correct or a right mode, because that will result in not changing when we’re in a bad mood or not feeling well.
[00:15:10] So deciding to change and push for self-change and betterment of the things inside our self-personality or in our world and reality – without allowing the moods that we are in on a daily basis or an hourly basis, or whatever, to affect us. And, to be more mood-independent in our self-movement . That is a valuable practice I found.
[00:15:35] All right.
[00:15:36] I think that is all that I wanted to share for this episode here. Quite a few points. So, yeah. Let me know what you think. Maybe some examples where you have faced this point of wanting to change something, but then, you know, being discouraged by your own self, by your own mind through your own thoughts.
[00:15:56] And if you have any methods or techniques that you would like to share about how you have approached this successfully or some realizations. I would be glad to read about that.
[00:16:09] Alright, thank you very much.
[00:16:11] See you in the next episode.
[00:16:13] Thank you for listening to the Martial Art of Self podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, then please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes. You can also follow this podcast on Twitter and Instagram. For more information about the Martial Art of Self, please visit martialartofself.com