A Surprising Reason Why We're Not Making Changes in Our Lives (And How to Overcome It)
Updated: Jul 4
(Image source: Bill Delvaux)
Have you ever caught yourself saying things like "I cannot leave this job," "I cannot end this relationship," "I have to help them out," or "If I am not married by 35, then I will..."? We've all been there. Sometimes, we feel a burning desire to break free from the status quo and explore new possibilities, but we just don't take action. Why is that?
The problem of attachment
When we feel unable to make changes, it's often because we're attached- we're ensnared by a web of limiting thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that hold us back and keep us stuck. We perceive the attachment as an unchangeable fact and become dependent on it. The more dependencies we have in our lives, the greater the potential for suffering, the more challenging it may be to enact change, and the more complex navigating life can become.
The benefit of detachment
But detachment is possible. “We don't have to detach from people or situations, but from our ideas and attitudes about them” (author unknown). For example, instead of believing that we won't be happy in a new city because our friends are all here, we can challenge that thought and choose a new perspective that empowers us to take action.
Let me give you an example from my life. I used to work in a multinational company that offered an attractive bonus to employees who committed to staying for another 12 months. While I was considering leaving to become an independent coach, the fear of losing financial security and the allure of a comfortable paycheck had me in their grip so that it always outweighed every other reason I came up with for leaving. However, when I shared my thoughts with my husband, he asked me, "What really has you being so ambivalent?" I couldn't answer that question. After a long pause, he shared, "It sounds to me as though by not making the decision to leave, you are almost telling yourself that you don't trust yourself that you can be a successful coach." This hit me hard! Finally, I got the clarity I needed - it wasn't the job nor the bonus holding me back, but my belief that I wouldn't be a great coach and provide financial security to myself. Seeing what was really stopping me from moving forward, I realized that the thought was not a fact. I could choose to believe that I wouldn't be a great coach and provide financial security to myself, as a result of which, I never stepped out of my comfort zone. Or I could choose to challenge this belief by taking the risk to build my own business. I might or might not succeed, but if I didn't give it a try, I would have already failed myself. Therefore, the next day, I resigned.
Similar to my experience, when we're attached to a job that no longer serves us, it can be difficult to leave because of the sense of security and stability it provides. According to a 2020 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 40% of employees say they are considering leaving their current job within the next year. We may tell ourselves that we can't leave because we need the paycheck, the benefits, the title, etc. However, by challenging these beliefs, we may find that we're capable of finding another job that better aligns with our values and goals.
The same goes for relationships. We may stay in a relationship because of the fear of being alone or the belief that we can't find someone better. But by challenging these beliefs, we may realize that we're better off on our own or that there are other people out there who are a better fit for us.
By detaching from limiting beliefs, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and opportunities. We become more flexible and adaptable to change and less dependent on external factors for our happiness and well-being. So the next time you feel stuck, ask yourself what thought, belief, or idea is holding you back. Challenge it and choose a new perspective that empowers you to take action.
The 4-Step Detachment Process
To help you detach from limiting beliefs, try this 4-step process as a start:
1. Know what you're attached to. List out 3-5 things or people you feel you cannot live without.
2. Identify the thought, belief, or idea behind each attachment.
3. Challenge the attachment. Ask yourself if the thought or belief is really true and what evidence supports it.
4. Choose a new perspective. Find a more empowering or realistic perspective that allows you to unstuck.
By going through this detachment process, you can unlock the shackles of attachment and unleash the boundless potential within you, creating a life of limitless freedom and empowerment. Remember, “the detachment of the wise person is not detachment from people or situations but from their ideas and attitudes about them (author unknown)”.
Are you ready to free yourself from unnecessary dependencies and create more freedom and empowerment in your life? Try out the 4-step detachment process today. While it's not an easy process, becoming more aware of what you are really attached to can help you start considering new possibilities.
About the author
Lucy Qian is an Executive and Life Coach, accredited as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through the International Coach Federation (ICF). Her coaching service helps people in their resilience towards the vision that they wish to get to, especially in environments that may not be supportive. Lucy is also currently translating the renowned coaching book, The Heart of Laser-Focused Coaching, to Chinese, making it accessible to a wider audience.