Resistance is our ego’s way of keeping itself safe in the quest for personal growth. You see, if you succeed in changing, then your identity (who you see yourself as) changes as well. And this feels like death to your current identity, so of course it’s going to resist. It’s survival instinct. This is why change can be so challenging.
Types of Resistance
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start – perhaps you’ll see yourself in one of these:
- Avoidance – I don’t want to look at this issue, you can’t make me.
- Denial – (Avoidance on steroids) This issue DOESN’T exist, therefore I don’t have to look at it.
- Distraction – SQUIRREL!!!! Oh look, a chicken! Did I forget to turn the stove off? Oh, wait, I need to do this first… What were we talking about?
- Distrust – I can’t possibly address this issue, I don’t even know if I trust you (the person who is trying to help me).
- Refusal To Commit – I’m not sure if I can really do the WHOLE thing… in fact, I may need to take some time off in the middle… and I can’t get started right away either… [Insert continuing slide down slippery slope here. This is why there are no refunds. You HAVE to commit if you’re going to actually make change.]
- Amnesia – I’m going to DEAL with this issue! 10 minutes later… Issue? What issue? We didn’t talk about that.
- Brain Turns Off – You’re talking to someone and all of a sudden they start sounding like an adult in a Charlie Brown cartoon – “mwa, mwa, mow, wah, wah, mo!” Your brain turned off so that you didn’t have to process the information that would have caused the change.
- Fear – This is the most obvious form of resistance in the personal growth process, and often a really challenging one too. The good news is, you know that when fear shows up in a process like this, change is actually possible. If you’re not at least a little afraid, there’s probably no chance what you’re looking at will make any significant impact on you.
- “Yeah Buts” – Everything that comes after the words “yeah, but” is a resistance. Excuses are resistances. If you KNOW this is what you need to do, then figure out how to make it happen.
- Choosing Comfort Over Change – I’m comfortable here – I know this devil. I don’t like him. But I know him. Who knows what devil I’ll get if I change.
- Getting Angry At The Messenger – If you direct your anger at the messenger, you can ignore the message. [See: Avoidance]
- Focusing On The Obstacle Rather Than The Goal – Whatever you focus on is where you’ll end up. Focus on the obstacle and it will fill your field of vision until you cannot see anything else. Focus on the goal and you’ll find a way around that obstacle in short order. What are you committed to? The obstacle or the goal?
- Attached To Your Story/Resentment – If your story differs from reality and you are attached to that story, you’ll rewrite your memory of reality (even in the moment it is happening), to fit the story.
For example, you say: “Nobody wants to talk to me…”
The other person says: “I’m talking to you.”
You say: “Yeah, but you don’t count!”
- Not Capable/Not Good Enough/Not Deserving/Not Worthy/Not Strong Enough – All of these are variations on the theme of “I can’t have this because….” [See: “Yeah, But”]
- Other People’s Problems – I can’t do this right now, so-and-so needs me. They are having such difficulties right now and I need to be there for them. [See: Distraction and Avoidance]
These are a few areas of resistance that show up fairly regularly in the personal growth process with my clients. They are by no means a complete list – you guys can be really creative about those resistances! If you really want to be in the program and can feel the resistances getting in your way, please schedule a call with me so I can help you get past those resistances and on your way to becoming the hero of your own life!