Why your brain doesn’t like change (and how to outsmart it)

We've all heard the saying: "Change is the only constant." But if that's the case, why does it often feel so unsettling?

While change can open doors to new opportunities, it can also bring about turbulence that has a profound impact on our lives. So, here are some expert tips to help you maintain emotional and financial well-being while dealing with life transitions.

How the human brain reacts to change

Does change unsettle you? You’re not alone. The reality is that our brains are wired for predictability. As this interest article from Harvard Business Review highlights, the human brain has evolved to be good at recognising patterns and building habits, so that we could do most things on auto-pilot and – well, survive.

In turn, this has made us uncertainty-averse: when we can’t predict and control things, that tends to trigger our ‘fight, freeze, or flight’ response.

It’s how we respond to change that matters

Life – it’s full of change. Sometimes we choose for changes to happen (for example, when we build a new habit), other times they’re simply beyond our control.

As we said, change can trigger an immediate reaction. What really matters is what happens afterwards: how we proactively respond. Using a real-life example, imagine suddenly losing your job. Your instinctive reaction may be one of sadness or anger. But once that wanes, you will likely re-examine the situation and look for a solution – that’s your proactive response. You may even find an opportunity to pursue a career in a role that makes you happier.

Psychology Today suggests the following steps for thriving through change:

  • Keep things in perspective – It’s important to step back and look at the bigger picture.
  • Practise the 5 Ps – Learn patience, be persistent, be practical, be positive, have a purpose. Sound easier said than done? You don’t have to do it all at once. Just keep these principles in mind when you feel a little out of sorts.
  • Stay focused on yourself and your needs – It can be easy to lose sight of yourself, especially when external factors like work, money, and relationships don’t go to plan. Make sure you don’t let it happen.
  • Question your beliefs about change – What’s change for you? Do you tend to frame it in a negative way? Remember, with change can come opportunities to grow and evolve.
  • Take as much time as you need – Giving yourself the time and space to absorb what's happened, assess your feelings, and strategise your next steps is essential for effective coping and growth.

The importance of a positive mindset

According to research mentioned by HBR, having positive expectations is essential for staying motivated in the face of obstacles and setbacks. Realistic optimism is the key.

Whatever your goal is, “Believe you will get there, and acknowledge to yourself and everyone else that uncertainty involves having to experiment to get things right,” the article reads. “It means not everything works right away. It means if we hang in there, eventually it can be better than it is now.”

The emotional side of financial resilience

When it comes to money management, emotions can lead to impulsive decisions that may not be the best for your financial wellbeing. Recognising and understanding your emotional triggers can help you make more calm, informed choices.

One effective way to manage emotions is to prepare for the unexpected. Having an appropriate level of insurance, for example, can provide peace of mind in turbulent times, enabling you to face life’s ups and downs with a stable foundation.

It’s all about building financial resilience and feeling more in control even when things are unpredictable.

Looking for financial protection?

Remember, change is inevitable. But how you react to it and prepare for it is within your control.

If you’d like to explore your insurance options, check out our handy digital advice tool. Or reach out if you have any questions:

Click here to contact us today, or call us on 0800 800 400.


Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current developments or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.

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