Here’s the definition of resistance:
- refusal to accept something new or different
- effort made to stop or to fight against someone or something
- the ability to prevent something from having an effect
I don’t know about you, but all three of these definition show up when I am about to take a news step towards my purpose-based passion. I’ve ended an abusive marriage, moved my entire life half way across the country, and made over my professional life more than three times. When it comes to change – I know how to do it. That still doesn’t keep resistance from rearing its ugly head, when I am about to move forward into something unfamiliar or something I perceive as uncomfortable.
Have you ever faced resistance?
Maybe you are facing it right now as you feel called to serve or share your message in bigger way. If you are feeling resistance right now- congratulations. At least you are listening to the call of your heart and spirit. If you were totally blocked to what you are being called to, you’d be content to stay mired in mediocrity. You wouldn’t even notice that there is something more for you, a next step that would allow you to expand your reach. Now it could also mean that you haven’t done anything with the vision you’ve let slide to the back burner. In that case, it’s not about resistance, that’s fear, doubt, and denial. (You should see me about a SHIFT session if you find yourself in that place.)
A number of my clients come to me saying they are stuck. Stuck is when you don’t have the ideas, information, resources, or strategy that would allow you to move forward. The quickest way to get unstuck is to ask for what you need. I find that some people aren’t really stuck, they are stubborn. They have exactly what they need, know what they need to do, but resist doing what’s required. Why? Because change feels uncomfortable. It can be hard and lonely when you are dong something that others are unwilling to do. But the reward is so worth it: there are people that can’t step into their purpose until you step into yours.
What does resistance look like?
Resistance comes up quite often in my coaching sessions. Some of my clients recognize it in themselves when I give them new insights or invite them to try a new approach. Some don’t recognize that they are resisting. And like Dr. Phil says, “You can’t change what you won’t acknowledge.” Here are a few examples of what it looks like and feels like when resistance is blocking your progress:
- Asking over and over again for validation, when you already know the decision you need to make.
- Searching for hours to see if anyone else is doing something so you can convince yourself it’s been tried already.
- Refusing to try something different because of someone else’s unfounded advice or inadequate experience.
- Avoiding taking action because you want to be without doing the work to become.
- Looking for reasons why something won’t work instead of asking how you can make it happen.
- Making excuses so you won’t have to deal with the disappointment if it doesn’t work out like you planned.
- Allowing your mind to stay cluttered so you won’t have to make a decision.
- Putting off making difficult decisions because it will make you or someone else uncomfortable.
- Ignoring your intuition and not making adequate time for meditation, prayer and reflection.
- Having a physical reaction: tightness in your shoulders, pressure in your chest, heaviness in your stomach.
- Any of these sound familiar to you?
A 5-Step SHIFT for Handling Resistance
I was doing some work with a client to help her market a product she wanted to create. As soon as I advised her that her initial market was too big, she had an excuse for why she couldn’t narrow down to a more specific group. I listened to her for about five minutes as she tried to avoid making a decision. Soon she was talking in circles trying to convince herself that she didn’t need to make a decision. I stayed quiet until she became quiet, then I asked her two questions:
“Has trying to market to everyone been making you feel heard or ignored? Why are you resisting positioning your self so you can really be heard?”
Once we identified how resistance was showing up for her, we applied my five step SHIFT process to help her go from resistance to results:
- Create a supportive environment: What would make it safe for you to stop resisting?
- Be honest: Acknowledge that you are resisting and make a decision that you are open to the ideas, information, and actions that enable you to grow.
- Ask for what you need: What insight or information do you need right now?
- Envision: Create a clear picture of the shift possible once you let go of the resistance.
- ACT: With your renewed Attitude, Confidently Take action.
You can do the same thing. If you know you struggle with doing this alone, be accountable: tell a friend, coach or mentor about the resistance you are letting go of – ask them to call you on it if they see you holding on to it.
I’d love to hear from you: How does resistance show up in your path and how do you handle it?