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A paradigm-shifting, instant classic in the making that challenges our assumptions about change by encouraging us to understand and embrace our resistance to it.

We all have something we want to change about ourselves. But whether it’s quitting smoking, losing weight, or breaking some common bad habit or negative behaviour pattern, we feel a sense of failure when we don’t succeed. This often sets off a cascade of negative feelings and discouragement, making it even harder to change. The voice in our head tells us: Why bother?

Successful change depends far more on understanding why we don’t change, psychotherapist and sociologist Ross Ellenhorn insists. His decades-long career as a pioneer in helping people overcome extreme psychiatric experiences and problematic substance use issues – especially those whom the behavioural healthcare system has failed – especially those whom the mental healthcare system has failed – has lead him to develop an effective, long-term method to achieve transformation, from the simplest shifts to the most profound.

In How We Change, Ellenhorn looks to the evolutionary imperatives driving us. We are wired to double down on the familiar because of what he calls the Fear of Hope – the act of protecting ourselves from further disappointment. He identifies the ’10 Reasons Not to Change’ to help us see why we behave the way we do, making it clear that there is nothing broken inside us – it’s how we’re built. By addressing this little known reality, he gives us hope and helps us work toward the change we seek.

Ellenhorn speaks to the core of our insecurities and fears about ourselves, with a humour and kindness. By turning our judgements about self-destructive behaviours into curious questions about them, he teaches us to think about our actions to discover what we truly want – even if we’re going about getting it in the wrong way. How We Change is a brilliant approach that will forever alter our perspective and help us achieve the transformation we truly seek.


How We Change is written with gentle wisdom, leavened with wit, and illuminated by deftly sketched case histories. Ross Ellenhorn points a unique path to personal transformation, challenging us to forgo what he aptly calls 'the seductive reasonableness of staying the same.'
GABOR MATÉ, author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
Countless self help books claim to help people change. But Ross Ellenhorn's How We Change actually does it, not through pithy slogans and relentless bullet points, but by encouraging readers to confront their own behaviors, patterns, setbacks, and fears. Erudite, funny, and highly accessible, How We Change is one of those books that stays with you for a long time. By the end of it, it's safe to say you'll be a different person.
ABBY ELLIN, author of Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married
Ross Ellenhorn has given us an elegant, convincing, and deeply humanist approach to understanding our resistance to change-and in doing so, he helps us to overcome it. Engagingly written and scientifically rigorous, his book is an important contribution to the literature of mental wellness.
DAVID A. KESSLER, bestselling author of The End of Overeating; Capture; and Fast Carbs, Slow Carbs