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Why Is It So Hard To Change Our Deeply Held Beliefs?

Our brains' attempts to protect us may keep us stuck when we are faced with challenges to our deeply rooted beliefs that threaten our identity. When our identity is threatened, our brains can send us into emotional distress to the point where we will look for evidence to validate our deeply rooted beliefs even when those beliefs no longer serve us.


This is one reason why therapy, coaching, and/or when someone presents beliefs that don't align with yours (especially ones that threaten your identity) can initially feel awful and hard to sit with even when you are devoted to change.


While letting go of societal values and cultural constructs of who we "should be" when those identities once served us but are no longer serving us sounds simple - it's not easy. As the brain feels threatened, you may notice strong emotional reactions.


Thank you, brains, for trying to keep us safe.


Pacing ourselves (rather than diving into the deep end of high emotional alertness) and learning to be with the thoughts and emotions can help us to reshape our responses. May we practice gratitude for our brains' intentions and gently help our brains to learn that, at times, we need to let go of old beliefs as we create the lives we truly desire - free from the misaligned societal pressures that no longer align with our values, sense of purpose, and visions for our lives.


As we lean into the change process, we may need to "embrace the suck" (as we say in the military) in the short-term as we allow ourselves to be open to new viewpoints and shift our previously deeply held beliefs. Yet, I recommend doing that in an environment that feels safe to you and with self-compassion. As we embrace difficult thoughts and emotions, may we surround ourselves with support and comfort ourselves along the way. This will help reduce the threat of change and allow for sustainable modifications to be made over time.


Too often, many of us feel the need to take on these personal challenges alone - however, we are made to be in community with others. Cultivate your community of support with people who are able and willing to hold space for you, holistically care about you, and who will sit and/or walk alongside you along the way- and do the same for them. We are not meant to be on this journey alone.


Please share your thoughts, reflections, and insights in the comments - I'd love to hear how this lands for you.


Much love,

Jillian



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