Why is it that when we make the decision to change our health (or any aspect of our life) we immediately feel something pushing back?
It feels like an alien or a parasite that rudely invades our minds, thoughts and behaviors and interrupts our carefully laid-out plans.
That “thing” is called Resistance and I guarantee it’ll come knocking on the door every time.
It’s human nature. We can’t hide from it.
As soon as we say “yes, I’m ready for change,” we might as well turn on the neon open sign inviting Resistance to show up.
Suddenly, change feels really hard and we wonder if we can really pull it off. We often feel defeated before we even start.
It’s not your fault.
It always shows up and it’s purpose is to defeat you.
CHANGING YOUR HEALTH IS HARD.
I always ask my new patients how they feel about change. Almost all of them respond with, “I hate it!!!”
I get it. I’m just as resistant to change.
I’m not the kind of woman who opens her arms and embraces it.
I like consistency. I love routine. I love control.
I resist change and anything out of my comfort zone.
The good news?
It’s normal and natural to feel resistance when faced with any aspect of change—especially health. Here’s why.
In his book “Do the Work”, Steven Pressfield lists the 11 most common pursuits (i.e. changes) that elicit resistance:
- The pursuit of any calling or creative art
- The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise
- Any diet or health regime
- Any program of spiritual advancement
- Any activity whose aim is the acquisition of chiseled abdominals
- Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction
- Education of every kind
- Any act of courage…including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.
- The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others
- Any act that entails commitment of the heart—the decision to get married, to have a child, to patch a rocky relationship
- The taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity
He goes further to say that resistance will show up with any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity.
But here’s why the pursuit of health is so intimately involved with resistance.
Take a look back over that list and notice that every single one of those things can be part of the journey to health.
The pursuit of health requires: courage, education, spiritual advancement, changes in thought or conduct, standing up against adversity or resistance from others, and most importantly, the commitment of the heart. Health requires a tremendous commitment to loving ourselves. (Note on #5: health does not require chiseled abdominals!)
No wonder breaking through the Resistance is one of the biggest (and often unexpected) challenges in the pursuit of a healthy life.
HOW DO WE RECOGNIZE RESISTANCE?
We may not recognize it for what it is but “suddenly” out of no where we’re flooded will a million thoughts like:
- We’re crazy.
- We’re not smart enough.
- We’ve failed before.
- What will people think?
- I can’t really do this.
- Do I really need to be healthy?
Resistance can also manifest through self-defeating or self-sabotaging behaviors like: procrastination, distractions, addictions, excuses, or a sudden case of fatigue (i.e. I’m just too tired to go to the gym).
WHAT IS RESISTANCE?
Resistance is what we feel when our subconscious mind feels fear.
We feel some fear, and Resistance pushes back and tells us not to proceed.
This is a primal instinct in the most primitive parts in our brain. Feel fear (caused by seeing a snake on the ground) and Resistance tells us to “Back up!” It’s there to protect us from hurting ourselves.
But, the fears we experience today aren’t the same as our primitive ancestors. They aren’t as tangible either as that snake on the ground. They’re elusive and sneaky. More often than not, they’re stuck in our subconscious.
The most common types of fears we feel are:
- fear of failure
- fear of rejection or abandonment
- fear of judgment
- fear of success
- fear of emotional pain
- fear of the unknown
Resistance tells us that if we don’t try we will avoid the pains of both failure, rejection judgment, or abandonment. But, unlike fears in the past that tried to keep us from hurting ourselves, most of our fears today are actually hurting us—and keeping us from expanding into our full potential and the joyous life we’re meant to live.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
The good news is that since we know what’s pushing back against us we can do something about it.
The first step is to acknowledge it, call it out by name, accept it as a part of life, and welcome it as part of our journey (because it’ll NEVER go away).
When Resistance is felt, try and determine which fear it’s triggering and where that fear is coming from. Keep asking why. Keep digging deep. You’ll be surprised at what comes up.
Once we really recognize the fears that are being triggered it’s much easier to push through and work through the resistance.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance. ~ Steven Pressfield
Struggling to identify if something is Resistance?
Take time and get quiet. Be still. Meditate. Breathe deeply.
In the deepest parts of our being, when we’re really honest with ourselves during quiet moments, we know if what we feel is our intuition guiding us towards betterment of self or if it’s resistance trying to hold us back.
Working with a healthcare provider, a therapist, or a spiritual guru can help guide you when you’re stuck.
What’s your take?
Where do you notice Resistance popping-up in your pursuit of better health? How do you push through?
Please leave a comment below.