Are you the kind of person that gets really excited when you think about changing the direction of your life but somehow it just ends up being the same-old-same-old? You spend time researching; you read up on it, watch some “how-to” videos and maybe even attend a class or workshop. Your initial enthusiasm eventually wanes away and you settle back into the mundane existence that you have been living day after day. If this is true about you, take heart because you are not alone and once you understand why it happens you’ll have options.
As human beings in a physical world we are all subject to certain natural principles such as gravity, which restrict us in various ways. That is, unless we learn to take authority over them. The principle that causes us to slide into our habitual lifestyle despite the desire for change is called inertia.
According to Merriam-Webster, it is defined as “a property of matter by which something that is not moving remains still and something that is moving goes at the same speed and in the same direction until another thing or force affects it.” In other words, it’s the rain that pours down on your parade every time you get a brilliant idea to improve your circumstances.
The funny thing about inertia is that we live with it all the time, forgetting that are constantly overcoming it.
With each breath you take you are challenged by inertia. You don’t live in a vacuum, so when you exhale, your lungs don’t automatically fill up with air again. During that exhaled breath, your entire body is geared toward emptying your lungs, but to breathe in, it has to do an about face. It has to stop breathing out, change directions and suck the air back in. There is a certain amount of resistance involved in this action, but you do it anyway because you need oxygen to live.
Inertia and the resistance required to get out of inertia are natural forces. They seem easier to manage when our survival depends on it, but somehow taking charge of them becomes optional in our minds when it pertains to our quality of life. We’re willing to do it for some outcomes, but lazy about doing it for others.
Recall a time when you had to put effort into learning something. I think back to when I was in the 1st grade, learning the alphabet and how to form words with the letters. Day after day I sat in the classroom listening the teacher explain the concepts and watching her demonstrate how it worked. I just didn’t get it. It was really frustrating and brought me to the brink of despair. I wanted to stay home with my mom and not have to deal with the discomfort of forcing my brain to do what it had never done. But then one day it suddenly clicked and came together. All at once I got it, after days of persistent practice. It was like a universe opening up for me. Now I could read and write!! It was fortunate my teacher and mother didn’t give me the option to give up or it may have become an obstacle for the rest of my life.
As human beings we are creatures of comfort. It is natural for us to gravitate to that which is familiar, hence comfortable even if it’s not satisfying. On top of that, we create a convenient feedback loop that reminds us to stay in our comfort zones. It means that when we think and feel in a certain way, we gather the experiences, situations, people and objects that reflect our thoughts and feelings, reminding us who to be. This is another principle of nature – the Law of Attraction. We magnetize the precise environment that represents who we are on the inside.
This is what happens when we decide to make a change.
We’ll enter into a new type of experience, such as enrolling in a weekend workshop with dynamic speakers and motivating exercises. We get all fired up about the possibilities and potential to transform our current situation and make all sorts of promises to take action. Sunday night we fall asleep grinning. Monday morning comes along and we wake up with a dull thud. Once again we are back in the routine of things, surrounded by the familiar job, people and objects reminding us of who to be.
It seems there is no escaping it. Bit by bit, as we settle into the familiar, our enthusiasm dwindles. If, at the weekend event we had been given daily exercises to help maintain the changes, by the time we get home from work, cook dinner and do the laundry it’s just too much effort to try. The energy it would take to resist the comfort zone is too much. Far easier to flop on the couch and fall asleep in front of the TV. And so it goes.
The biggest issue here is not that we have given in to our familiar way of being, but that we have chosen to agree with the idea that resistance means “stop.“
Inertia and resistance are natural forces, yes, but we don’t have to go along with them when we are on the brink of uplifting our lives, any more than we do when we exhale and need that next breath. It’s just a mental habit to quit when resistance arises.
To get over it, you simply take action, no matter what your mind and body are saying. Just do it! Not doing it is as anti-survival as failing to inhale. Breathing keeps us alive. Overcoming inertia and the resistance to change is what takes us to a life that is purposeful, satisfying and well worth living. Any human being that has ever made significant progress in life and in the world has taken inertia and resistance by the horns; has used them as the springboard to great achievements. If you are breathing you can do it too.
Come on – be a badass! Kick inertia’s butt! You know you want to.