In a word: resistance.
The part of us that wants to change is, almost always, counterbalanced by the part of us that wants to keep things the same.
Why would we do this to ourselves, you ask. Why do we have such a difficult time acting on our healthy desires to break bad habits, get into a healthier relationship, have more friends or any of the other goals we might have set for ourselves? And it isn’t just that we have a hard time following through on making changes, it’s that a part of us actively resists our efforts to change.
When we think of a phobia, it is often of an external fear such as snakes or heights. Yet what is more common are affect phobias, fears of our emotional experiences. Rather than being an external fear, an affect phobia is a fear/discomfort with something that happens internally. In fact, it is these internal fears that underlie many psychological problems.
Why do we fear our emotions? And how does this cause problems?
While many people seek therapy for psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression, they may not consider psychotherapy to alleviate physical pain. Many sufferers of physical symptoms including back pain, digestive problems, fatigue, sleep disturbances and many other body-based problems will seek out medical doctors, specialists, and physical therapists. They are trying to diagnose and heal their physical symptoms and become frustrated and confused when the medical system seems to offer no relief. While it’s understandable that we would seek physical relief for our physical problems, it’s important to consider psychological explanations for pain and illnesses.