Why Falling Back into Old Habits is Essential for Change

It’s a concept that took me ages to truly grasp, until I’d done it enough times to understand that temporarily falling back into old habits is normal — and an integral part of the healing process.

Joni Seeto


Women lying on a bed, crying into a blanket
Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels

Since deep emotional healing (and subsequent lasting change) only happens when we are truly ready for it, it’s typically preceded by a period of major resistance.

Here’s how this tends to go down.

1 — Desire for change

We start to sense (consciously or unconsciously) that the current situation we’re in is no longer serving us, and that we are ready for change.

2 — Resistance

In order to grow beyond our current level, we’ll need to face any old beliefs, feelings that are blocking our growth.

But those beliefs, feelings or blocks were initially created by the ego (our survival instinct) to keep us safe. Meaning that if we release those old beliefs or feelings, from the perspective of the ego, we are consciously putting ourselves in harm’s way.

Which is scary sh*t.

Hence, we experience extreme resistance to this change.

3 — Falling back into old patterns

Because of the ego’s resistance there will be a period of time where it appears we are “going backwards”.

Falling back into old habits, following patterns we thought we cleared ages ago, dissociating, escaping in every possible way, binge eating, zoning out with TV, completely resisting any self-care, and so on.

This is normal, and it’s part of the process.

Change is extremely painful for the ego, because it genuinely thinks we’re going to die if we go ahead with the change. Hence, the only way humans ever change is when the pain of staying in our current situation becomes greater than the pain it would take to change.

By falling back into old habits we are, on one hand, soothing the fear of our ego’s impeding death, while equally creating a certain level of…