Two Reasons Why the Human Psyche is Resistant to Change

A lot of the times we try to change our beliefs, behaviors, and ways of thinking only to find ourselves reverting to our old habits. There are many reasons why it is so difficult to alter even what we believe to be harmful to our wellbeing. Below we explore two main causes:

1. Our fundamental belief system, which is a big part of our built-in survival kit, plays a major role in getting rid of habits. It is designed and occupied with teachings that we have received by the people we interact with, especially during our childhood. In fact, we adopt their beliefs into our belief system because we get conditioned that something is right or wrong. Sometimes this survival kit is filled in by merely observing the way parents and friends interact and behave.

Changing our belief system is difficult, even though many of the theories are very much ‘false beliefs’. This is because of our Conscious Critical Faculty (CCF), the conscious mind’s filter. Everything we encounter is compared to our existing knowledge, this includes previous limitations and awareness of things that we can or cannot do. If it does not match our schemes, then the conscious mind rejects it. This means new ways of living get bypassed by the CCF and hence change does not make its way to the subconscious mind. In a nut shell, if new information does not fit within the ‘tried and tested criteria’ chances are it will be rejected.

2. Another reason the human psyche is resistant to change is because of the way neuropathways work. The more we think or behave in a certain way, the stronger the neuropathways of this thought or behavior become. If one is used to thinking in a certain way (i.e. negatively) for period of time (at least 21 days) the neuropathways are created, and myelin sheath (the insulating envelope that surrounds the nerve and facilitates the speed at which impulses travel) gets secreted. The thicker the myelin sheath gets, the easier it is for the thought, behavior or belief to follow the strongest (i.e. negativity) pathway. The good news is that these neuropathways can be redirected, and new pathways can be created due to the neuroplasticity of the brain.

(Credit: Mai Elsayed is a clinical hypnotherapist with psychotherapy and counseling skills, specializing in cognitive behavioral approaches.)