Is it us or our brain resisting to change?

Today I wanted to mention about “resistance to change” in a different perspective. I hope you enjoy!
Neuroscience has proven various subject matters with the recent researches on the brain. One of those studies was on how our limbic system was preventing us using our cortex (prefrontal cortex) which is the central part that enables us to make conscious decisions, solve problems, think logically etc. So what does this limbic system do? The limbic system is the part of the brain that has dedicated itself to our survival. Mind considers physical pain as a threat, once it realises the danger it locks us up in the limbic system and prevents us from reaching the cortex so that we can survive. It scans any stimulus in a millisecond and decides as to whether it is a threat or an award. If it holds that there is a threat getting in the way of survival, then it locks us up, and we can’t reach the cortex.
Interestingly researchers suggest that brain regards non-physical stimuli such as social exclusion as a threat and locks us up in the limbic system. David Rock who is the founder NeuroLeadership Institute came up with an acronym that gets the non-physical threats under the name of this 5 topics SCARF.

SCARF stands for:

STATUS – The relative importance of others
CERTAINTY – The ability to predict future
AUTONOMY – The sense of control over events
RELATEDNESS – the sense of safety with others
FAIRNESS – The perception of fair exchanges

In this article, I will not go into each of these aspects but will dwell upon the most critical part of it, which is very much connected to change&coaching, that is, CERTAINTY.

Let us imagine:

  • How would you feel driving your car in a foggy or rainy weather? Tense? Anxious?
  • Would you dive into the sea if you can’t see the bottom? No? Yes but it increases adrenaline level?

The reason is pretty apparent. Our brain looks for clarity. If we don’t know what lies ahead of us, we get tense, and brain locks itself up in the limbic system feeling of danger.
To cite an example, can you survive to the point that you are today? It is not about happiness, I am asking you as to whether you are alive or not. If you are alive, then the limbic system works successfully! Limbic system does not care as to whether you are alive or not. What it cares about is your survival.
The limbic system knows how you will survive in the current situation and considers any change as a threat. As long as you are alive, your happiness or unhappiness does not matter to it.
Does it make sense when you want to make a change in your life; however, you can’t take a step forward to do that. You either want to change your job or the city you live in yet you can’t make the action. Aren’t you open to change or is it your brain holding you back?

When we think of a change related to the “future”, we fall into “uncertainty”. We don’t know what will befall us. Therefore the brain assumes that there is an ongoing threat, locks us up and we can’t take a step towards the change that will make us happy!
During my coaching sessions, in these kinds of situations what I first do is to clarify the future in coachees brain. Because when we specify the future in our mind, then we get away from being imprisoned in our brain. Then we can change, and we get rid of hesitation and fear. We become who we have always would love to be, go where we would like to go, do what we would love to do and take steps to have happy life securely.

Our brain is what keeps us away from the life we would love to have. What we need is to unlock the mind with coaching!

Do not be enslaved by your brain!

Best wishes,



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