When people work to change a habit, they often underestimate how much it will cost them (in time, energy, and emotional resources). It is easy to forget that you cannot reverse a deeply embedded pattern in a short time. They also forget how frequently they will need to exercise new skills to counter the temptations that bombard them every day.
The positive side of this is that it is common and normal to feel surprised by the demands of change. Many people feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, and yet they go on to become successful changers by using skills and techniques like the ones discussed on this site. If you have the right set of skills, you can easily address the doubts that accompany behavior change.
Keep in mind, too, that there is potential strength in relapse. Change researcher James Prochaska reminds us: “The strength of relapsers is that they usually are willing to risk taking action again in the near future; their initial action gives them strength and courage.” In other words, relapse isn’t the end of the change journey. If you relapse, you can think of yourself as a seasoned learner and get back to the hard work of change.
Have you ever found yourself surprised by the demands of change? If so, how did you deal with it?