Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to Overcome Resistance

Did you know that 2011 is the year of personal growth?

The New Year is a time of making resolutions, setting goals and making plans. I have been working intensively on transforming my life for the last couple of years. I thought it would be helpful to share some of the tips that have helped me to create positive changes.

Today I'm going to talk about overcoming resistance. And in my next post I will talk about building momentum.

"The resistance will help find the thing you most need to do, 
because it is the thing the resistance most wants to stop." 
- Seth Godin

What is resistance? 

It is defined as "opposing force." To me, resistance means the feeling I experience when I don't want to do something. 

I often feel resistance to change, growth and taking on more power and responsibility.

Resistance is my instinct for self-preservation. Resistance keeps me in my safe zone, my comfort zone. 

Resistance protects me -- from failure, from getting hurt, from being vulnerable, from being laughed at, from attention, from success.

Even when I felt stuck in a rut, I was unwilling to climb out of that rut. It was my rut. I made it, I knew it. It was my comfort zone.

Seth Godin calls this mentality the "lizard brain." 

The part that wants to be on auto-pilot. Eat, sleep, seek warmth, conserve energy, stay within familiar territory. 

The lizard brain never wants to reach the higher state of potential, because to do so means risking life, safety, comfort and security.

Yet overcoming resistance is essential to challenge ourselves, grow, learn new skills and knowledge, and develop as human beings. 

How can we better ourselves, if we never reach beyond the status quo?

I'm transforming my life by confronting resistance.

Steps to overcoming resistance

Explore the reasons for your resistance

What's stopping you? 

Is it fear? Clinging to the comfort of your routine? Maybe you don't really want to do it, but you feel that you should. Maybe it's what others want you to do. Or you think it's the right thing to do. 

But is it really what's right for you? Look deeper, into the real reasons for your resistance. Ask yourself "Why?" Confront your true feelings. Make sure that this is truly your wish.

Create the desire

Nothing can be achieved without the desire. So if a goal isn't truly what you want, you won't put the work into it. 

To tap into the desire, find the benefit that comes with the action. This benefit will be satisfy something you are currently lacking in your life. It's something you want so much, that you are willing to make changes in your life to get it. Focus on what you want, and know the steps it will take to get there.

Visualize a positive outcome

Picture yourself as if you have already achieved this goal. How does it change you? How does it make you feel? What's different? Let yourself embody this vision.

Ask for support

Ask people to help you. Get a buddy, or two or three. Encourage each other. Check in with your support system frequently and compare your progress.

Give yourself space

If you want to transform your life, you need to make space and time for things to change. 

If you want to make time to exercise, or take a class, you need to eliminate activities that are time-wasters. 

If you want to stop a bad habit, you need to remove everything that reminds you of that habit from your environment.

Believe in yourself

If you don't believe in yourself, why bother at all? You MUST believe in yourself. How? Read every inspirational book you can get your hands on, about people who have succeeded in spite of all the odds being stacked against them. Helen Keller and Malcolm X are two examples that come to my mind.
Affirmations are another tool. Repeat them to yourself, while looking at yourself in the mirror, until you say the words with conviction. Use the energy of your heart to give yourself the strength and courage.

Hold yourself accountable

Make a commitment, to yourself and others. Verbalize it and write it down. Make it a promise that you intend to keep.

Make it fun

Please, don't punish yourself! Find a way to make it fun and enjoyable. 

You will be much more likely to keep it up if it's something you look forward to, rather than dread.

Just do it!

After you make the decision, stop thinking about it, and just go for it!

Start slowly and build over time (baby steps)

If you've never done something before, don't expect to become good at it overnight. Take baby steps to get there, building slowly over time.

Reward yourself for progress

When you make progress, no matter how small: reward yourself with praise, with a visual reminder of your achievement, or a treat that you enjoy.

Build momentum

Don't stop, keep it going! Set the bar higher and challenge yourself.

More about momentum in my next blog post!

What are your tips for overcoming resistance?


  1. hello,
    why is it the year of personal growth?
    your post is helpful and full of good advice. Thank you for the inspiration and Happy New Year!

  2. Happy New Year Tammie!

    Someone told me that 2011 is the year of personal growth because in numerology, 11 means awakening and awareness. It sounds good to me!

    Wishing you and wonderful 2011.