Have you heard of the term homeostasis?
Homeostasis is the is the condition of equilibrium – a resistance to change. We experience it every day in our life. It characterises all self-regulating systems from an air conditioning system to your internal organs (body temperature, blood sugar levels, normal state of rest). It is the thing that keeps countries ticking along the way they always did. It is the thing that makes people want to stop you from stepping outside the box and doing something extraordinary. It is the thing that makes people resist change.
The problem with homeostasis is that it isn’t very good at distinguishing between change for the better and change for the worse. It doesn’t register a change coming in and then evaluate it based on a pre set criteria. No, it resists all change.
Have you ever decided that you were going to get fit? Perhaps all your sedentary friends are suddenly pounding the streets, shedding weight and looking fabulous. So you decide to jump on the bandwagon. You’re excited.
So off you go to the shop to buy new running gear (essential shopping), and you plan you run for early the next morning. You get out of bed at the scheduled time, don your new gear, and step out in the fresh air (kids are still sleeping). You start to run. And for the first third of a mile it actually feels good. Yeah! (you think) I can do this!
Then something awful happens. You start to feel a little queasy: your legs turn to jelly, your head starts to pound and you think you might vomit. Actually, if you don’t stop, perhaps you might die? Surely this isn’t normal?
What you’re actually experiencing is first hand homeostatic alarm bells.
Your body is registering drastic changes in respiration, heart rate and metabolism. It’s screaming “WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING, STOP! STOP! STOP!” So what do most people do? They stop. After many years of not exercising, your body does not associate the experiences it’s going through as normal. It thinks it’s under threat. Even though in your mind, you know what you are doing is good for you, we are so used to being governed by our body feelings, that often times we cannot overcome them and continue doing the thing that we know is good for us.
You can apply this theory to any change in your life. Most moms experience it when they have their first baby, and go through the joys of continual sleep deprivation for the first time ever. By the time your second, third or fourth child makes an appearance, a four hour stretch seems like a good night’s kip.
The lesson? Now that you understand the concept of homeostasis, don’t let it put you off making changes in your life.
Especially the changes that you know are good for you.