Change hurts, which is why no one wants to do it (but you should)

Changing your life doesn’t usually spark joy. It usually sucks. Like, a lot. But it’s worth it.

by Eiko Ojala - A layered digital papercut of the inside of a person's mind with small figures digging in it

Googling “change your life” turns up 5,370,000,000 hits in less than a second.

Five.
BILLION.

Humans are clearly looking for advice, resources, and tactics to take what we’ve got and make it into something better.

Trouble is, we don’t actually like change.

We like the idea of change.

When we run across stuff like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or The Happiness Project, we jump on it like Mario on a mushroom thinking we’ve found the solution to all our problems. High on hope, we breathlessly share our life-changing aspirations with anyone who will listen (and some who’d rather not).

I mean, who doesn’t want to quit smoking, clean up their eating, purge their house of clutter, delete their social media, quit their soul-crushing job, and move to a tropical island? That’s the stuff that dreamboards are made of.

But….

Who wants to suffer withdrawal from nicotine or sugar or caffeine, face their hoarding and attachment to objects, lose friends and be left out, start over at the bottom rung, and be alone in a place where they don’t speak the language?

Nobody, that’s who.

And so while we love to talk about changing our lives, very few of us do.

Because we forget that change has a cost.

We forget the struggle, the lack, the fear, and the pain we’ll suffer as we reach for our heart’s desire.

To truly change our lives, we have to sacrifice things that bring us comfort and security, things we’ve lived with so long we don’t know who we’d be without them, things we’ve accepted as our identity. Ideas, habits, beliefs, relationships.

We have to choose to leave the old behind to step into the new, even when it hurts like hell to do it.

As I stand on the precipice of a life I’ve never known, I find I must become a person I’ve never been. I’m shedding my skin, sheets of old me sloughing off by the week, taking with it my assumptions about who I am and what I need to not just survive, but to thrive.

And it hurts.

Letting my husband take his rightful place when I’ve been in charge for years hurts.

Allowing my daughter to have big feelings when I want to stop them hurts.

Selling my creative services when I’ve only ever used them for myself hurts.

Accepting changed friendships without trying to reclaim them hurts.

Confronting a call to speak in public when I’ve dropped out of classes to avoid it hurts.

Living faith-forward when I’m so good at controlling the details hurts.

Working with my body when I’ve been at war with it for decades hurts.

Shedding the dragon skin hurts.

But there comes a point when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.

And on the other side of that is a life even dreams can’t imagine. One free of the itchy tightness suppressing my spirit. One where I walk upright, fully myself, unburdened by fear.

One I want–but have to pay for.

Enduring the crucible is the only way to truly change your life. There is no easy way out, no magic bullet, no fairy godmother. In order to be different, you must be different. And most people choose not to because it’s hard, it’s messy, and it hurts.

But it’s worth it.


Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. [Joshua 1:9]


What changes are you facing that are costing you more than you bargained for? How can you remind yourself that it’s worth it?

Author: Ellie

Uppity stardust. Will eat (almost) anything.

2 thoughts on “Change hurts, which is why no one wants to do it (but you should)”

  1. Hey Ellie. I stop by your blog every once in a while. I know this place right now seems hard with whatever you’re going through but in the words of Dory, just keep swimming. After years of abuse and manipulation from my ex-husband and certain members of my family along with tragic loss and pain, I’m fighting through single mother hood and being on my “own” to better my two sons’ lives. Every day is hard. There are days I want to give up. But they are the reminder of why it’s all worth it. Even the days I am lonely and have to start all over again, I am free of abuse and that tension I felt for so long. The reminder on my shoulder of R;se with a little bluebird (thanks Sara Bareillis for that song) tells me no matter how low I may be or how tough it may be, I am better off than I was because I took the moment to rise for myself and for my kids. Never again will I be there. Only above. I’m here if you ever wanna catch up. Cheering for you.

    1. Oh my gosh, Annie! Thank you for dropping by. <3 I'm so sorry to hear that the last few years have been so incredibly difficult. You're absolutely right, though, that it's a matter of perspective. Remembering the ways in which the change is worth it helps immensely when it's so hard you think you can't take another step. It's wonderful that you're able to keep your freedom in mind. What a testimony you have already! <3

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