You just put yourself out on a limb and took on a big change. Maybe you will give it up, what ever that “it” is- sugar, wine, gluten, staying up late, not letting that co-worker get under your skin. Or you are going to take that new thing on- you just signed up for your first half marathon, you are finally going to look for a new job, or paint the bathroom that desperately needs it. Way to go. You’ve taken on that first step. So what happens not a few hours, days or weeks later when you find yourself diving into the chocolate cake, missing your early morning run, or seeing the paint still securely fastened in the paint can? It’s almost like our one step forward takes us two steps back! Why is it that sometimes when we put ourselves out on a limb we can’t keep ourselves there? There is actually a part of us that wants to undermine the change we are trying to make. There is a part of us that is more than happy staying comfortable in the familiarity of the how we know our lives to be. I like to refer to the two steps back simply as resistance. Here is what you do with resistance so you can really take on that change in your life as you intended:
1. See it for what it is.
When we begin to undermine ourselves, find ourselves acting in the complete opposite direction than what we said we would, the first thing we need to do is become aware of it. The key is observing the counter productive actions we just took and name them as resistance. You may find yourself saying “oh, that’s just a part of me resisting this change”.
2. Don’t analyze it.
So often our mind wants to understand why we did what we did. Like there is some good reason for it and that we need to solve another problem. Or maybe our mind wants to turn our resistance into an excuse or reason why we can’t get what we really want. Stop thinking about why you dove into the chocolate cake. Stop trying to understand why you haven’t started running yet. Resistance doesn’t need to be solved or given any more of your time or energy. Trying to understand it keeps the resistance in place.
3. It’s not personal.
It’s very typical for us to feel bad about ourselves when we take those two steps back. It can be frustrating, but it’s not personal. We can typically say things to ourselves like “I’ll never be able to do this” , “Why can’t I get this right?” or “What’s wrong with me?”. This is that fearful part of you that is resisting change. It doesn’t like the uncomfortable and the unknown and wants to hold you back. Here is where you exercise your compassion and kindness. Pick yourself up and see that what you did has nothing to do with how amazing you are and about your intention to make a change.
There is a reason why you want to make the changes you do. You may want to feel better, be happier in your life, or invest in making your home more inviting. Whatever it is, don’t lose sight of the why. When the resistance comes (and it like will), see it as a small detour and not a sign to turn back or stop all together.
Earlier this week, I put myself out on the limb. For weeks, I’ve been thinking about how to start a new project that I was really excited about but couldn’t find the time to do. I finally put this project on the top of my list and told myself that I’m going to take on the first two steps. Well, what did I find myself doing the minute I put the intention out there? I started staying up really late. Doing who knows what- Facebook, Instagram, Downton Abby. I found myself in that pattern for 3 days, feeling exhausted, cranky and full of that “what’s wrong with me that I can’t do this”. And then I realized. It was just resistance. The minute I saw it, I felt relief and was able to take on some huge strides on the project.
Our success with what we are willing to take on in our lives takes practicing awareness, compassion, and persistence. You are meant to go out on a limb and go after what you want. The process in doing this is where the fruit is after all. Set yourself aside and don’t let a bit of resistance get in your way!