Manage fear and resistance: How to create a life you love, part 5
Have you ever had the experience of waking up one day and deciding to make a change in your life, and then just doing it?If you have, I want to hear from you. Because I sure have never had that happen. A couple of times I have made a clear decision to change something and not looked back, but it wasn't like I "just did it."More like this: I made the decision. Then I tried to talk myself out of the decision - maybe tomorrow or next week would be better timing. Maybe I had a few good days with the new habit, and then the 5-8th days were really hard and I had to use all my willpower to hang on. And then maybe I backslid, or even forgot entirely. And then I recommitted. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Why is change so hard?
Well, habit is powerful, for starters, but so are fear and resistance. And unless we can manager fear and recognize and short-circuit resistance, change is nearly impossible.
What resistance looks like
- waiting until you have it perfect before you let anyone see it
- doing the laundry or reorganizing the furniture instead of doing the work
- taking yet another class on the topic, because you aren't an expert yet
- starting a new and different project, or business, or wanting to change up your whole life
- making yourself the victim, blaming others for your failure
What is your go-to resistance style? You may recognize yourself easily in that list, but if not, do some journaling about a couple of situations where you said you wanted to do or change something, and then it didn't end up happening. Which of these patterns is most like what you identify yourself as doing in those situations?
Resistance is our mind's way of protecting us
Change is scary. When our mind senses fear, it resists going in that direction. That's the lizard brain talking. And it is useful if you are being chased by a bear, but not useful if you are trying to show your paintings for the first time, or to raise your prices.So what are you afraid of?
- Being seen
- Being judged
- Failure (though success is just as scary)
- Being laughed at, mocked, or trolled
Will these things happen? Sure, they might. They also might not. Or they might happen and not be nearly as scary as you think they are in your head. How will you know?By trying. By taking a step forward and seeing what happens. By supporting yourself, but taking action anyway.I want to be clear - this is not about living without fear, or eliminating it. I think it is wise to acknowledge your fears - they are trying to protect you! But you don't have to live controlled by them. You can choose to acknowledge fear and act anyway.
Manage fear, manage resistance
The most effective way to manage fear and resistance are to keep them in the light. All fears are more scary in the dark (remember the last time you woke up in the middle of the night while camping?). So when you can shine a light on your fear, and call out your resistance, you put your logical mind back in control, and take the steering wheel away from the lizard brain.Journaling is a great method for unwinding those often illogical fears. So is coaching, or therapy (depending on the depth of the fear). Anything that will allow you space to write down the fear - name it - and then consciously decide how you will respond to it.Because that's the goal - being conscious, and making conscious choices in our lives.Here's an exercise for you.
- Name a fear, a thought, or a belief that is keeping you stuck
- Ask yourself, how do I act when I believe this thought?
- Ask yourself, how would I act, if I magically didn't have this thought?
- What is one small action you could take, as if the thought has left you?
Have you tried all of these things and you still feel unable to move forward? This might be for you.