by Sarah Vasquez: You know that feeling of procrastination? That “I know I should, but I just don’t want to” experience?
That feeling of pushing aside tasks for too long and avoiding what needs to get done? Your internal dialogue turns into a heated debate between angels and demons. Tasks get delayed, you run out of time, and then, pressure builds. It’s a terrible feeling, yet somehow we invite it into our lives over and over again. This is known as resistance. And this doesn’t just mean procrastination; it could be avoidance or acting out, too.
Resistance can show up when we try control our environment too much and don’t get the results we want. It creeps up when we’re avoiding or battling something mentally, emotionally or spiritually. It’s a psychological response that not only affects our mind and body, but also impacts our behavior. It can disrupt our lives, making us feel stressed, inadequate, frustrated or even deflated. Simply put, resistance is the feeling of being in a position we don’t want to be in, and what we do to get out of it.
Common Examples of Resistant Behaviors
Here are some examples of resistant thoughts and behaviors. Anything sound familiar?
- You make a commitment to exercise regularly, but stay on the couch instead, internally battling whether or not to get up and go.
- You doubt your job performance, despite being qualified for the position.
- You feel conflict inside while thinking about writing a closure email to your ex.
- When you struggle to change poor eating habits to healthier ones, and skip out for a cocktail.
- Arguing with someone you care about—and needing to be right.
- When you prefer to keep things as they are, forgoing change.
- When you want to follow your dreams, but choose a distraction instead.
4 Classic Signs of Resistance
These are ways resistance shows up in your life, and what you can do about it when it does.
1. The Emotional Trigger
Internal resistance triggers an emotional response. There is no one universal reaction of resistance; because you perceive the world through your own subjective lens, your reaction is uniquely your own. Identify what’s happening inside you. Bringing awareness into your resistant emotions helps pinpoint the triggers and patterns you carry. With practice, you can learn how to develop ways to release that energy in a different direction.
For instance, let’s say hearing from your ex spirals you into a fit of despair and depression. By bringing awareness into this scenario, you anticipate your reaction and how it affects your work and overall wellbeing. Self-awareness allows you to see the situation with perspective rather than react to it. One way to handle that ex is to give yourself time to process your emotions. Think about how the relationship ended to gauge your response. Did he betray your trust? Did he cheat? Did you feel unheard? Unappreciated? Give yourself at least 48 hours to let your feelings settle and then decide whether to reach out or not.
Eventually, with enough practice, you’ll get so badass at detecting what bothers you, you’ll develop techniques to avoid the triggers, and strategies that work for you instead of against you.
2. The Physical Reaction
Emotional resistance affects the body in several ways; the most common symptoms are upset stomach, restless sleep, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, migraines, increased heart rate, hot flashes, vomiting and/or diarrhea. High levels of stress weaken your immune system, making you vulnerable to viruses. That’s why we become sick when overworked or stressed. It’s our bodies way of saying, ‘Hey, this is too much! You, stop it right now!’ So listen to your body. It’s the quickest way to detect when something’s going awry.
3. Spoken Words
Resistance becomes obvious when the majority of your conversations are about how someone “wronged” or “hurt” you. If you’ve done everything in your power to alleviate the situation and the problem still persists, then it does a disservice to your health and psychological wellbeing to invest energy into something that simply cannot be controlled. Try to stop wrestling with “I’m right, you’re wrong,” and just let things be. Remember this situation will pass, and those feelings won’t last forever.
Oh, this is a sneaky one, and a very common way of handling internal resistance. Avoidant behavior does a good job of allowing you to get out of or ignore the situation altogether. But this style of resistance leads to feelings of being bottled up, so take special note of when this occurs because this one has the most impact on your health, happiness, social and intimate relationships.
Instead of avoiding, try leaning in to discomfort. Every situation, good or bad, offers an opportunity to learn and grow. If you avoid a certain situation or feeling, it will continue to be an obstacle in your life until you tackle it head on. Those uncomfortable feelings carry an important message about what needs special attention.
Resistance is a good thing. It reveals your triggers, emotions and reactions as you respond to situations. The only way to change is to do something you’ve never done before. That comes by staying open-minded as to how your life unfolds and to love yourself in every situation, unconditionally.
Sarah Vasquez is a life coach who specializes in helping clients make a long-term shift to a more favorable way of experiencing their day-to-day lives. She’s currently working with clients who are seeking comfort and guidance after experiencing heartbreak. She holds a degree in psychology, and frequently offers expertise on her website. For more information about working with Sarah, visit CoachSarahVasquez.com.