Why Falling Back into Old Habits is Essential for ChangeJun 23, 2021
Since deep emotional healing (and subsequent lasting change) only happens when we are truly ready for it, it’s typically preceded by a period of major resistance.
Here’s how this tends to go down.
1 — Desire for change
We start to sense (consciously or unconsciously) that the current situation we’re in is no longer serving us, and that we are ready for change.
2 — Resistance
In order to grow beyond our current level, we’ll need to face any old beliefs, feelings that are blocking our growth.
But those beliefs, feelings or blocks were initially created by the ego (our survival instinct) to keep us safe. Meaning that if we release those old beliefs or feelings, from the perspective of the ego, we are consciously putting ourselves in harm’s way.
Which is scary sh*t.
Hence, we experience extreme resistance to this change.
3 — Falling back into old patterns
Because of the ego’s resistance there will be a period of time where it appears we are “going backwards”.
Falling back into old habits, following patterns we thought we cleared ages ago, dissociating, escaping in every possible way, binge eating, zoning out with TV, completely resisting any self-care, and so on.
This is normal, and it’s part of the process.
Change is extremely painful for the ego, because it genuinely thinks we’re going to die if we go ahead with the change. Hence, the only way humans ever change is when the pain of staying in our current situation becomes greater than the pain it would take to change.
By falling back into old habits we are, on one hand, soothing the fear of our ego’s impeding death, while equally creating a certain level of existential pain that simply cannot be ignored.
4 — Finding the courage to heal
Only when we get to a point where the pain becomes great enough, we become willing to feel the feelings that need to be felt in order to help us get to the next level.
But feeling those feelings really is our last resort. We‘ll try anything, exhaust all other options, before we’re willing to go there.
That’s why we have to go through 5000 diets before we’re willing to start looking at the underlying root cause of our battle with food and weight.
That’s why even when we have the tools we need to heal at an emotional level, we still resist using them at first.
Because we’re not ready yet.
We’re still gathering up the courage to push through the resistance and become willing to feel and heal.
I am not immune to this process.
Even though, as a therapist, I know exactly what I need to do to heal and break through subconscious blocks, I still experience a period of resistance before each period of growth — and I’ve noticed that the greater the up-level, the greater the period of resistance.
I went through a big one just last week.
It took a fair bit of time before I finally built up enough courage to face the underlying fears and hurts that were trying to come to the surface.
But no matter how long it takes for me to get there, I never worry. And I never judge.
I don’t beat myself up over falling back into old habits or dropping the ball on my daily self-care routine. I don’t worry about the fact that I’m not making the best food choices right now or whether I’m going to gain a thousand pounds as a result.
I’ve done this enough times now to know and trust that there will come a point in the very near future when I’ll be ready to face the shadow, push through my ego’s fears, and hit the next level of growth on my journey.
Compassion Is key
The most important thing you can do while waiting for the shift is to remove judgment and release any and all attachments to when it will happen.
Yes, it’s painful while you’re going through it. Yes, it’s uncomfortable.
But beating yourself up over it and wanting it to go faster only ever delays the process. Self-compassion and kindness are key.
The more you learn to accept that this temporary phase of resistance and falling back into old patterns is actually an important part of the healing process, the smoother the ride will be.
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