Realize that your brain is changing
Whenever I feel overwhelmed, or frustrated, or uncomfortable in the change I’m going through, I remember my brain. I remember that my brain is trying really hard to create new neural pathways for me, and that takes time, effort and repetition. Creating new neural pathways is no small feat!
In a simplified sense, these connections in your brain form and get stronger based on habit. Let’s say you eat the same cereal every morning for breakfast; that associated collection of neural pathways is going to be really strong. Let’s say you’ve worked the same 9-5 job for twenty years; you sit at the same desk, and see the same people every day. Those pathways are going to be really strong, too. Think of the strongest pathways as the expressways of your brain. Lots of “cars” can travel on them, and get to their destinations quickly.
To continue this metaphor, things that you do (or think, or feel) semi-frequently are the side streets. They’re familiar, yet less efficient. You have a pretty high level of competency doing these things, but they might cause a little discomfort because you don’t practice them as much.
Embrace the uncharted territory, and don’t look back
See where I’m going with this? When you decide to make a change and do/think/feel something new, your brain has to create an entirely new “road.” And just as building a new road takes a lot of time, effort, and planning, so does the process in your brain. First, the road has to be planned out. Then, any debris needs to be cleared. Then, the ground has to be built up and leveled… and so on… until it’s a fully functioning road. Then, traffic has to use the road; when the pathways in your brain get used, they get stronger.
It really gets painful when you decide to make a change that shuts down one of those expressways. Let’s say you decide to quit your job that you’ve worked at for twenty years; all of a sudden, the expressway isn’t in use. Not only will building the new roads be challenging, but you’ll also have the urge to get back on the expressway when things get tough.
Patience and perseverance will pay off
The key is to keep aligning your actions, thoughts, and beliefs with your dream life, and the new road will eventually become an expressway.
Change takes time, and the more you can meet this challenging process with understanding and compassion, the less you’ll suffer. And the less you suffer, the more you can keep your eye on the prize.