Decoding the Change Cycle

Today I want to help you really understand the process that your brain goes through called the change cycle.  I find that any time you can identify behaviors and thought patterns that you have and understand that they’re really normal, it’s comforting.  You understand that nothing is wrong with you, you just need more information.

A lot of you are reporting that you’re stuck in a Groundhog Day.  You’re showing up wanting to make a change, but by the end of the day you’re starting to fall back into old patterns.  This is the change cycle- you want to make change, but you’re not. 

Discomfort

When you want to make change the first thing that happens is discomfort.  Obviously.  We don’t make change or even realize something is wrong unless we feel uncomfortable with the situation.  So, it makes total sense that when you want to make change you feel enough discomfort with your current situation that it triggers a thought in your brain that you should be doing something about it.

What ends up happening is you have the discomfort for quite some time and it builds up.  For me, it was abusing prescription medication from my doctor, drinking and obesity.  I knew for a very long time that there was discomfort.  But what tends to happen is we rationalize, or it feels overwhelming because you’re going through the change cycle. 

We usually stay in discomfort for a very long time and then start making change, but circle back and circle back. 

That’s why it feels very cyclical is because it is.  Life is but a circle, you guys.  Your life will keep repeating itself because it has lessons to teach you.

Breaking Point

How many times have you been to your breaking point?  You probably feel like you’ve gotten to your breaking point a million times.  I’m guilty of saying, “I got to my breaking point and then I hired a trainer, and I changed my life.”  But what you didn’t see is the millions of times before that when I got to my breaking point over and over again and went into the change cycle, but nothing changed.

You get to your breaking point a lot more than people lead you to believe.  If you feel like you’ve been at your breaking point 100 times and you haven’t, congratulations, you’re completely normal.

Make the Decision to Change

I don’t mean the last decision you’ll ever make to change.  You’ve probably already decided a million times that you were going to lose weight or stop drinking or something else and you didn’t really do it.  The word decision doesn’t mean the final end all decision.  It just means you made one decision.

Fear

This happens immediately after you make the decision to change.  And fear will get you, girl!  You start wondering what will have to change, what your life will look like, what you’ll have to give up, what will happen if you lose weight and can’t keep it off. 

Your brain will start to come up with all of these fears that will stop you from wanting to make change.

Amnesia

Because you can’t process all of the fears that you have and it feels overwhelming, your brain likes to forget how bad the thing you want to change sucks in the first place.  So, you start to justify actions, or you completely forget and think it’s not really that bad.

Backtrack

You start thinking you don’t really want to lose weight. You convince yourself that you just want to feel good in the body you have.  Never mind that you can feel good in the body you have and lose weight simultaneously.  You create these stories to justify your actions.

It’s important that you know our minds are really tricky.  They want to feel okay no matter what.  Often, you’ll get into situations that when you look back you wonder how you were ever okay with it.  It’s because your brain comes up with a sequence of thoughts that makes it okay.  We’re always looking to justify the way we’re showing up because we want to feel good all of the time.

Effects of the Change Cycle

We’re always going through this cycle over and over again.  Plus, every time you’re going through the cycle it gets worse.  Because what’s happening is your brain is creating data that suggests it’s not worth changing.  It’s not even worth trying. 

Let’s say you’ve been through the change cycle with weight loss a bunch of times.  Then you decide to do a weight loss program, but the only thing you keep thinking about is how hard it’s always felt to lose weight.  You think weight loss is hard so when you’re on a diet all you’re looking for is reasons why weight loss is hard.  Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Stop the Change Cycle

You want to take this from an automatic thing that your brain is doing without you realizing.  You have to stop and get really honest with yourself. This may require you getting a coach.  It may require you getting really honest with yourself on a piece of paper.  It may require you just sitting there with no phone or distractions so you can’t avoid thinking about what it is you really want.

Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.  Taylor Swift knows what she’s talking about. 

If you’re just trying to change your actions without actually trying to change the thoughts you have or discover your inner desires and underlying why it won’t work. 

If you can’t fix that, you are only temporarily pretending to be a different version of yourself.  And most often you’re not even being a version of yourself.  You’re being a version of someone else who you think is healthy.

It’s really necessary to be clear about what you want and why you want it.  Not a surface level, “I just want to be skinny”.  News flash!  It’s not just because you want to be skinny or look hot. There are other layers underneath those that are the real reason you do or don’t do all of the things. 

Get a piece of paper out and get really honest with yourself to assess the damage. 

  1. Create a list of what will happen if you continue to pineterestshow up the way you are, unsupported, in fear and justifying your actions. It’s not about you trying harder- that’s not the way you make change.  You need different tools. 
  2. List the consequences of you continuing to go through the change cycle over and over. Get very honest with yourself.  It will be uncomfortable, but it will change your life.

On the other side of the paper write a list of all of the things that will change for you when you decide to embrace the decision to make change.  What are the positive effects of you doing it differently?  List all of them out.

Once you do this, it will be clear as a bell what you need to do in order to change your life.  This is not just about a diet.  I can’t hammer that home to you enough.  There’s so much more happening and if you don’t address it, you will continue to go through the cycle over and over again.  And every time it will get worse.  This is why people wait until they get a note from the doctor that they have high blood pressure.  This is why I have people come to me because their doctor has told them if they don’t lose weight immediately, they’ll have to take Type II diabetes medication.  Most of those people have gone through the change cycle thousands of times but didn’t stop to really assess what was happening.

Do yourself a favor and take the time to get really honest with yourself about what’s going to happen if you don’t stop the cycle and what is in store for you if you do.

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