Whether it’s my students trying to develop better study skills or me trying to change a bad habit, progress can seem glacially slow and like two-steps-forward-one-step-back.
Any sort of personal change is a learning process, requiring the re-wiring of mental circuits. Neurons in the brain need to reconfigure themselves into new pathways, and this takes time and effort and repetition.
Personal change also requires renovating one’s identity, one’s sense of self. The brain is especially resistant to this kind of change, because maintaining a solid identity is extremely important to healthy psychological functioning (just imagine how terrifying and disorienting it would be if you couldn’t hold onto your fundamental sense of Who I Am).
So, it’s a mostly good thing that we can’t change ourselves too easily. But still, when change needs to happen, gee, it can be such a struggle!