By Suzanne E. Harrill
Have you ever been unhappy in your current situation? Have you expressed wanting something different? Maybe you have a life coach, a therapist, read some motivational books or listened to CD’s explaining how to create something bigger and better for yourself, and yet, you resist the advice. Instead, you critically watch yourself not taking the appropriate action required to get going. Rather than “beat yourself up” in your mind with critical thoughts, consider that you are already in the right place at this point in time for your higher good. Let us look at resistance to change and see how it may be a positive aspect in your current situation. When you explore the resistance and get to the bottom of the messages hidden from view, you can grow in awareness and thus make changes with inner cooperation.
What might the positive intention of resistance be? For one, the resistance to take an action could be serving you to become more consciously aware. It is important to take in information from our experiences, then digest and assimilate with understanding these experiences to grow in wisdom and nourish our awareness, much like we do with food to nourish our bodies. If you do not understand how you made choices to get into the current situation or what your core values are that are motivating you, then you may make a change prematurely. You could even make the change and find the characters in your script changed but the drama stayed the same. We take ourselves with us wherever we go. So the next time you notice yourself complaining about the current reality, and yet, will not take clear steps to change, then you may already be where you need to be. The resistance is saying, “Slow down, look at yourself, understand yourself, be honest with yourself, and improve yourself.”
Another intention of your resistance may be to protect you. A part of you knows you need to build some skills needed to succeed with the new reality. You may benefit from learning to understand and manage your emotional reactions or you may need to communicate differently. Then again, you may be repeating patterns that need healing, like low self-esteem. In the case of your resistance wanting to protect you, allow it to be your friend. Talk to it and thank it for bringing something to your attention to heal.
I once worked with a woman who complained about her boss and the people at work. She felt angry and victimized about many things. When ideas came up in therapy to make a change, such as making a job change, she never followed through with any action to find a new job. It became apparent that changing jobs would not be serving her higher needs at this time. Why? There were many issues to work on within herself that she had been avoiding, not wanting to address. She chose to do some inner work to move through some patterns in the current situation. She worked on her anger issues, paying attention when she value-judged her co-workers, and changing dysfunctional childhood patterns she was repeating with her boss. The current situation became the perfect place to work on her awareness and attitudes. She learned more about her personality too and that she wanted to stay in this job more than she wanted a new one because security, loyalty, and predictability were important core values for her.
Another example is Susan who is overweight. She spent years going on diets and having medical treatments that never succeeded in making her thin. Her resistance to losing weight was never viewed as being of value to explore. Until Susan could look below the surface and see how food was a substitute for love and pleasure, she made no progress. Now her body image is changing because she is understanding herself at a deeper level. She is making changes, but only small baby steps at a time because she knows she will sabotage her success if she moves too quickly. Emotional work is important when looking at our resistance to meeting our goals.
The next time you find yourself in a situation that you don’t like and you aren’t taking steps to create something better, maybe you are already in the right place. Consider seeing the richness of your current situation and look below the surface before you push and shove through the resistance using mind over matter. To increase your success in reaching your goals, remember that resistance can have a positive intention and can serve a purpose. Make the most of the current situation; learn all you can about yourself – your reactions, your needs, and your values. Build your awareness, grow in life-skills like communicating better, practice self-care, and take small risks. Then, when creating something different you will be ready to move and expand your horizons to meet your goals with ease and joy and inner-cooperation.