Recently I received a question about making changes like getting rid of clutter and working towards goals.
The reader asked about our tendency to backslide when we try to make a fresh start, and wondered what we could do about it.
Here are some thoughts. Three, to be exact.
Why Self-Improvement is Like Slaying Vampires
1. Resistance Is Inevitable
Whenever we try to change or improve, we come up against pressure to regress to old, comfortable ways.
This is to be expected.
Entropy rules in human nature, just as it does in the rest of the universe.
New habits take work, as new pathways need to be forged in the brain.
2. Backsliding Is Likely
Because of this, we have to be kind to ourselves when we backslide – we’re only human after all.
Pretending the resistance isn’t there, or beating ourselves up for our lack of willpower, is simply denying reality.
3. Persistence Is Essential
But – and this is important – we also have to recognize that to be happy, and to enjoy a sense of progress and achievement in life, we have to keep working to maintain our gains. We have to continually fight off the urge to regress.
- We have to exercise to prevent our muscles from atrophying.
- We have to practice to stop our musical skills deteriorating.
- We have to give our relationships ongoing attention so they don’t fall apart.
- We have to declutter to get rid of stuff that accumulates
- And we have to keep making an effort when we want to change or improve.
Change is not a set-and-forget switch, it’s an ongoing process. We’re never done!
If you’ve ever watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this analogy might help:
To fulfill your destiny, you have to keep killing the vampires. They never stop, so neither can you.