Whenever you’re starting to incorporate small changes in your life for the better and to heal from an existential crisis, you inevitably experience resistance. Despite how often creative influencers talk about this when they’re starting to pursue the life of their dreams, resistance can happen to anybody, not just artists and entrepreneurs.
Resistance is traumatizing. It’s why you feel a formidable force within you and then suddenly fall into the depths of paralyzing self-destruction and anxiety. It’s why you experience long periods of feeling stuck and being unproductive shortly after you deliberately act upon your plans to become more productive. It’s why you go through alternating cycles and fluctuate between operating with an abundance mentality and a scarcity mentality. It’s why you ruthlessly battle yourself from within and do the things you don’t want to do and postpone the things that you truly desire for yourself, which makes you feel exhausted, defeated, and overwhelmed with fear of the future.
Here are 8 reasons why you face intense resistance right after you take actions to change your own life:
1. Your self-destructive yet pleasurable coping mechanisms are there because they serve to make you feel more comfortable and stay “safe,” so anything that undermines them makes you feel afraid and uncertain.
If you want to stop watching too much TV, eating too much comfort food, doing what other people are doing to avoid conflict, spending as a means of escapism, trying to make your life look better than it is, or staying in a dead-end job, your basic human self wants to keep you where you’re at and ensure that your desire to remain in your comfort zone supersedes your desire to venture into the unknown, realize your full potential, and take bold actions to move yourself towards something more fulfilling and lasting. Resistance is fueled by fear of what isn’t comfortable or predictable, and this is why you hold yourself back from achieving things that you have potential for and from living the life that you’re capable of creating.
2. After being used to going after what brings comfort and pleasure for so long, your mind perceives all unfamiliar changes as threatening.
Being productive, healthy, selective about what you bring into your life, and creative are things that feel uncomfortable because they do not offer instant gratification that the human brain craves. Most people stay small because they seek things that are easier to get and offer short-term pleasure, which is why they find it hard to stick to good habits and as a result, remain stuck in life. Lifestyle changes are rooted in the transcendent self – the self that desires self-actualization, radical honesty, seeking creative heights, and becoming more than what the animalistic self can be. Unfortunately, the average human does not operate this way naturally, so it can be difficult to escape from a lifestyle that puts short-term survival that feels comfortable over long-term evolutionary growth that feels uncomfortable.
3. You’ve been conditioned to compete with everyone else for superiority from a place of scarcity. You were raised to fear all alternative paths and imagine the worst possible outcome if you don’t do what’s expected of you and if you venture beyond what others tell you is realistic.
In high school, you did this by overexerting yourself to get the best grades in everything (since being a good student in a few subjects you like isn’t seen as sufficient enough) and do activities that you honestly didn’t care about just to look good for college admissions. In college, you probably did this by studying hard in a major that’s lucrative (regardless of your personal interests) to appease your parents. And now, you’re experiencing the pressure to rely on Corporate America to sustain you for 40+ years, and you still view everything else as a route to poverty and misery, even though super inspiring, self-motivated, and talented people around you prove that this isn’t true. You find it hard to change your mindset from scarcity to abundance.
4. You’re easily overwhelmed by the wide gap between your ideal lifestyle and your current one and find it difficult to reconcile the desire to change everything at once and the reality of changing a little bit at a time.
You want instantaneous results and beat yourself up for not exerting enough willpower to be where you want to be fast enough. You know there are many things you need to change in order to become the most ideal version of yourself – the one that’s always productive, relentlessly creative, resourceful, financially stable, and not dependent on an average job to pay the bills. Because there is such a large contrast between who you are now and who you want to become, you want to get your act together on the first try but you easily get discouraged when you don’t get results. That’s because you’re more concerned with how other people would perceive your life, so you become more self-conscious and unable to remain consistent.
5. You suffer from self-doubt and fear showing any form of incompetence, so you hold yourself back from trying new things and going after what you desire most, since you feel like you’re not qualified enough as you are now.
You postpone major plans and procrastinate on establishing new, healthier, and life-changing habits that you know are good for you simply because you think you aren’t capable or competent enough to maintain these things in a way that shows outward success. You think you need to cram in five years’ of progress into one week and become a totally new person right off the bat or else you don’t deserve to go after what you want.
6. Regardless of what your life situation is, you think you’re behind other people. Thus, you underestimate the power of small changes because seeing the long distance between where you are and where you think you should be causes you to feel discouraged and hopeless.
You experience difficulty in changing your life because you think it’s too late and believe that unless you root out all that is holding you back in one day, you really have no hope in building a lifestyle from the ground up. You also beat yourself up for not starting to change your life five years ago and are hung up on the regrets and mistakes you’ve made that led you to where you are now.
7. You confuse unrealistic standards with being effortless.
You might genuinely want to change your life so you can focus more on what brings you joy, but there is a part of you that wants acceptance and outward success, even in pursuing what you want in spite of opposition from others that think you’re a failure no matter what you do. You think that doing things effortlessly requires you to churn out more work than what is actually possible for you and be productive all the time, which causes you to feel guilty and believe that you’re undeserving of your greatest dreams, since you feel like you’re not productive enough – ironically, this causes you to be very unproductive, and fear keeps you in a cycle of putting off everything for the next day because you’re afraid of not doing it effortlessly on your first attempt.
8. Your mind is transfixed by the future, frozen in the past, and scattered in other people’s heads. Anywhere but the present.
You experience intense periods of resistance because you worry too much about the worst possible outcomes of the future. Likewise, constantly ruminating over what you’ve done in the past also holds you back from focusing on what you’re doing now. You also dwell too much in other people’s heads and repeatedly beating yourself over what they think of you and how they’d react to what you do with your life. This is why you are indecisive about the step you’re about to take and are easily overwhelmed with the number of options you have, and this is resistance’s greatest factor that makes you process a variety of illusions that are all fear-inducing, which causes you to feel stuck and unable to pursue the life that you want to create for yourself.
Read more: thoughtcatalog.com