The Counterintuitive Way to Create Change in Your Life

By Leo Babauta

A lot of us want to make changes in our lives – whether it’s changing a bad habit like smoking or overeating, creating a new habit like meditation, or simply being less distracted or reactive during the day.

Whatever the change, you’re likely to face internal resistance. There is a part of you that doesn’t want to change.

If you want to change your eating habits, there’s a part of you who just wants to eat the donuts. If you want to exercise more, there’s a part of you who just wants to be lazy and relax. If you want to have less drama in your life, there’s a part of you that gets off on the drama. If you want to write a book and change people’s lives, there’s a part of you who wants to stay in the safety of anonymity or the life you already know.

This part of you will fight against the part of you that wants to create the change.

Here’s the counterintuitive advice: Own that part of you that doesn’t want to change.

Until you own this part of you, you’re constantly trying to ignore it, repress it, squash it. Committing violence against a part of you doesn’t make it go away – in fact, it will strengthen it. Trying to ignore it means it will keep mysteriously controlling you.

So how do you own it? First, acknowledge that there’s a part of you that’s creating the resistance. You’re not a victim of your circumstances, you’re a creator of your life. Notice when this part shows up – if you committed to a whole-foods diet, notice the part that wants to eat the potato chips.

When this part shows up, honor it. What does it feel like to be distracted or reactive? What does it feel like to feel helpless or frustrated? What does it feel like to be fearful and avoidant? Can you notice the feelings in your body? Can you give it attention and presence?

Could you even love this part of you? Could you find the amazingness in the part of you that creates all of this, that actually enjoys the distraction and helplessness and laziness and indulgence and drama? Could you delight in the drama you create, in the theater you create, the art of your inner slob or inner tantrum thrower? Find the deliciousness and wonder in what it creates.

Once you start to love and delight and find delicious pleasure in this part of you, it no longer needs to be in control. It is loved and honored, which is all it ever wanted. You can move beyond it to another way – though it will still be there, when it does show up, you no longer have to fight it. You love it.

Counterintuitively, this relaxes everything. There’s no need to change this part of you, because it is beautiful and sacred. And without needing to change it, you can embrace the expansive change that is more than this one part of you.