Resistance to change can be very hard to admit. We are certain we want the changes. We do with all our heart. But then nothing happens. At all. Granted, we could just be in a period of riding the momentum of change for awhile, or the changes are coming but just haven’t appeared on the surface yet.
But what if you’ve been working hard for a long time and you’re still stuck?
The problem is that resistance can show up in one of two main ways: as some kind of discomfort (“negative” feelings, frustration), or as “lack” of effect. The former is, in some ways, easier to manage because there is “something to address,” so to speak. Quite often, that you’re in resistance.
But to what?
Often, to the very changes you want to make.
Or to what is. A situation we can’t change (or can, but we’re so caught up in disliking it and the problem of it we’re blinding ourselves to a solution
While the latter essentially leaves some with little more to do than persist and maintain an open awareness of if/how/when/where they may be producing resistance. Part of this is understanding you have to admit you have resistance to change. Everyone has resistance to change. The difference is whether you choose to admit it and work with it, or refuse it and get tangled—even if you haven’t been resistant until now.
It can flare up and catch you by surprise. But when you resist the factt you’re in resistance, you only generate more, which then causes the reaction of resisting that, and that creates another layer of resistance. And it’s the resistance that creates the suffering we feel.
Remember that we’re talking here about unconscious resistance, not conscious or intentional resistance.
You’re not getting up every morning, looking yourself squarely in the eye in the mirror and saying, “Today, I’m going to do everything I can to resist the very changes I want to make!”
At least…I hope you aren’t!
In other words, resistance of this kind does not mean you’re doing anything “wrong” at all. It just means that there’s a part of you (again: unconscious) that’s focused on not letting the changes you (consciously) want. It prefers the status quo, even if the status quo is making your conscious self unhappy. Remaining in the status quo means safety, not happiness.
Also, resistance isn’t a bad thing. You want to have it; it comes down to the kind. You want to resist someone pushing you into life-threatening danger. The thing is, our weird minds can mask the changes we want as exactly that. As a co-worker of mine says, The mind lies. But we’re so used to it we accept it as truth.
I realize you may be thinking, “No, not me. I’m not resisting! I want these changes to happen!” Of course you do. But what if—what if—you were?
Again, you’re not doing this consciously. I highly doubt you’re looking in the mirror each morning and saying with strong conviction, “I’m doing to do absolutely everything I can to stop myself from making changes. I’m going to fully resist all momentum and push to make them!”
But…again—what if, on some level that is what you’re thinking? Just something to consider for a moment. If you think there isn’t, that’s okay…but, well—what if, just what if there were? And so—what if you could help that part realize it can have both safety and happiness and to be less (even not at all) fearful of the changes?
How? you ask. How do I stop fearing change?
- Accept that you have fear for change. That’s it. Start there. Don’t try to get rid of it.
- Accept that you have difficulty accepting #1 (if needed.)
- Start listening to your thoughts around change with mindfulness and without judgment. Are you possibly inadvertently practicing self-sabotage?
- Remind yourself it’s all right to have resistance. And that even those of us who have our best interests can still get in our own way.
- Find ways to recognize your red flags for when you are in resistance so that you can step back and allow.
This takes practice, yes. And sometimes it’s hard to even accept we’re in resistance, especially when we’re working so very hard on the changes we want to make.
So let yourself be resistant to the changes.
That’s it. That’s the step. Allow yourself to have the resistance, and then start (incrementally) letting it go as best as you can. There was a long period of emotional overwhelm I went through and I knew I was making it harder than necessary because I was resisting the process.
So I allowed myself to remain in resistance. Gave myself permission to have it. I knew, at some point, I would stop when I was ready. Recognition of where I was and what I felt, acceptance of it (even though I really loathed how I felt.)
Eventually, the resistance and resulting suffering it generated stopped. When it happened, I don’t know.
The moment I realized I was no longer in resistance was peculiar; the suffering simply wasn’t there. But I hadn’t made a conscious choice to stop (as in, saying to myself, “I think I’ll stop now!” and it did, as if it were as easy as my saying, “I think I’ll go make myself a cheese omelet!” and do exactly that.)
Instead…the suffering the resistance caused was (mostly) gone. And I realized it had been for some time. In a way, it’s like having a very upset stomach for several days, doing the best you can to heal it, and then realize one moment the discomfort wasn’t there. Looking back, you realize it had been fading for awhile, yes…but that’s also something that escaped notice.
Interestingly, I recall quite clearly when the next round of emotional/spiritual overwhelm (catharsis) began.
I was in a forward bend in a yoga session, stood, and felt something snap open inside me. There was a very curious, strong sensation of something going, boink! inside me, as if I could hear a filament breaking, and I had the distinct sensation of something running up my spine from the tip of my tailbone and shooting out the top of my head.
“Oh, dear!” I thought. And I fell into an even greater level of emotional overwhelm (in the tradition of yoga, it’s also called a kundalini awakening.) It was far more intense than my previous one, but, because I embraced it and didn’t fear it. I let it do what it needed to do. And, in a very comparatively short amount of time compared to the last time, it ended.
Yes, resistance may be futile, but it’s going to happen. And if you can allow yourself to have resistance, you’ll have much smoother sailing.
Questions? Comments? How do you deal with resistance? Email me at heather (at) smallchangelife (dot) org or drop by my Facebook page and leave me a message, leave a comment below or feel free to start up a conversation in the discussion forum.