(and why that's a good thing!)
I had a light bulb moment recently (love it when that happens!). I was watching Marie Forleo interview sports psychologist Todd Herman (link: https://www.marieforleo.com/2014/04/change-your-life-todd-herman/#more-5699) and he was talking about the biological process that occurs when we start to make a change. In very basic terms (I am no scientist!), he explained that when we begin to behave in a new way, our cells are bombarded with different hormones, and they start to vibrate.
We often interpret this vibration as a negative emotion. We can feel unsettled and decide that the change we have made isn't right for us. We go back to our old habits, as they feel more comfortable.
The realisation that this unsettled feeling that comes when we make a change is actually biological really struck me. Once we recognise that, ‘Hey! It's just my cells vibrating', we can move through this initial discomfort and wait for them to calm down (which they will).
I was also really interested in what's going for us whilst our cells are doing this change dance. What do we actually experience when we are trying to make a change? It can be summed up in one word, resistance.
Resistance can happen whenever we want to do something different. We feel an initial excitement, a ‘Yes! I can do this,' attitude. We get all motivated and start making the change and then a couple of hours, days or weeks later….resistance kicks in.
What does resistance look like? It's helpful to know, because you will have your own signature style of resistance. Once you become familiar with it, you can simply say, ‘Oh, I see you there' and move right on through it.
So, here are three tell-tale signs that your cells are vibrating up a storm and you are experiencing la resistance.
Tell-tale sign number 1: Everything goes to s**t
I have seen this so many times with my clients and myself!
Let's say you're trying to lose weight. Everything is going great for a week or so. You're making healthier food choices, you're getting to the gym and the weight is starting to come off.
You feel good. You're thinking to yourself, ‘Yes! I'm finally doing this.'
Then the next week, you get on the scales and to your horror, you've put weight on. How did this happen? You've been doing everything right. You've made changes. How could you have put weight on?
A similar thing happened for me last May. At the time I was working on my wealth consciousness. I was really focused on being more successful in my business.
Do you know what happened? Last May was my worst month ever financially for my business. It was beyond bad.
When this kind of thing happens, our natural response is to feel, ‘What's the freaking point?' We can give up and go back to our old habits.
However, if we recognise this difficult time as resistance, then our perception starts to shift.
This is why I always let my clients know that it's completely normal to experience setbacks. It is part of the process and you just need to move on through it.
What do you do when everything goes to s**t? Keep taking action!
Action is so key. When I had my disastrous May last year, even though part of me wanted to give up and crawl under the duvet, I kept going. I did leaflet drops, put posters up, kept networking and do you know what? Business picked up and has been pretty darn great ever since.
I just had to move through the resistance and you can do that too.
Tell-tale sign number 2: You procrastinate
Have you ever wanted to make a big change and just kept putting it off in some way?
You find yourself thinking that you just need to read that one more book before taking action. Maybe you tell yourself, ‘I'll start it on Monday, next month, after my holiday'.
Again, this is a sure sign you're experiencing resistance. Just thinking about this change is causing your cells to samba and you're feeling uncomfortable.
So, you find ways of putting off actually doing anything. You might even find yourself doing the dishes, folding the washing, cleaning the bathroom – anything to delay making a change.
You can justify all of this in your head, telling yourself that you really need to dust the living room before you can concentrate. Or maybe you tell yourself you don't have enough time right now?
There are a gazillion excuses and delaying tactics you can call on.
The fact is, you are procrastinating. You are experiencing resistance.
How do you deal with this? Just do the work!
I'm afraid there is no easy solution, you just need to recognise that you are delaying and then get on with it.
Now, don't think you have to do it all at once (because that could cause resistance overload!)
Start with small, manageable steps. Maybe commit to 30 minutes a day working towards your goal. You can always build on that.
Call yourself out on your procrastination and keep taking action.
Tell-tale sign number 3: You feel grumpy!
Oh, I am so familiar with this form of resistance! (Actually, I'm super-familiar with all of them, but this is a favourite of mine.)
Maybe you sign-up with a personal trainer, a teacher at an evening class or a coach. At first you think that person is great. You're telling everyone how inspirational they are. You are their biggest fan.
Then one day you find yourself feeling grumpy with them. You start to find points to criticise. Maybe you miss a session, you feel kind of rebellious.
You tell yourself, ‘I'm going to do it my way. I know what's best for me!'
Now, I absolutely agree that you are unique and you can find your own way. All power to you my friend!
However, if you are telling yourself this and feeling downright grumpy at the same time, then this is often a sign that actually what you are experiencing is resistance.
Maybe this person has challenged you in some way (if they are doing their job right they certainly will have). At first you found this exciting, but then your cells start to cha-cha-cha and you find yourself shrinking back.
It's much easier to reject someone when you feel grumpy with them, so that's what happens. You unconsciously manifest a grump so you can justify stopping working with that person.
Does this resonate with you? I have certainly experienced this in the past, both as a therapist and as a client.
How do you get over the grump? Out it!
I know it won't feel comfortable initially, but acknowledge your grouchiness. Talk to the person your grump is directed at. Tell them what you're experiencing.
You will feel much better for it. That grump will start to disappear as soon as you let it out (like magic!).
So, resistance, it's a funny old thing isn't it? Learning to spot the signs is so liberating. Once you know what you're dealing with, you can move through it.
Take action now: What's your signature style of resistance? Comment below, tell me about a time you experienced resistance and what you did to overcome it.
Let's share our resistance war stories!