[Wellbeing, Personal Development, Professional Development]
Resistance is Futile:
5 Ways to Overcome Resistance To Change, Growth & Opportunity
There is a secret to professional success (and fulfilment) that few people know about. There is a hidden block to success and results and it lies in what we tell ourselves that blocks change, opportunity and growth.
How often do you think people in your business use phrases like this? It can be hard to know exactly because they are not always said out loud, but to ourselves:
As master practitioners of Neuro Linguistic Programming, we can confirm that these types of thought patterns are strongly held and very, very common. They don’t always manifest in big, obvious ways but rather bit-by-bit, on a subconscious level, their effects rippling out into the greater picture and until a light is shone on it, most of us are completely unaware that these automated thought patterns are happening, never mind the effect they have on the results and experiences we have - or miss.
More often than not, people show this subconscious resistance to something so many times they accept it as fact.
You know this, you've seen it play out in front of you (or perhaps even in your own mind). Just one example is how frequently people casually put themselves down. This alone can damage self-esteem and self-motivation and sometimes, seemingly harmless, unconscious resistance evolves into something greater:
All of a sudden, this resistance (or avoidance) is making some important decisions both in our lives and within our companies affecting what are often important outcomes. This is why resistance is futile. It doesn't get anyone, anywhere.
As a leader is to keep everyone focused, enthusiastic, efficient and open to growth.
So, how do you tackle resistance in your teams? Better still, how do you overcome it for improved individual, team and business results?
Here are 5 steps to do help do just that:
Once you recognise the language patterns that are putting blocks between the person speaking and what they want, e.g. 'I can't', (or any of the examples above), you'll start to notice the language appearing in meetings, one-to-ones or around the office. Be curious. Ask yourself, why are they saying that? If necessary, when in a one-to-one conversation, take the opportunity to find out more about the block. A good question to ask is:
'So, what's behind that?"
You're starting to look behind the surface-level comment. Remember, it's common that people would actually like to feel they 'can', that they're great at something, or that an opportunity could be theirs. Just asking the question could highlight to them where they are stopping themselves as they might not even have noticed they say it.
Inner resistance can come from a few places. Two of the common sources of resistance are found in our personal values and our beliefs. This is where we decide what’s important to us and what we're capable of doing. If we’re working towards something that truly matters to us, we are usually relating that to how we perceive our success or failure.
At every juncture, we want to be moving towards what we want and away from what we don’t want. Towards success, away from failure.
The thing that keeps us focused and heading towards success is direction. If there is a conflict in direction, it is much harder to gain momentum. Can you identify a conflict in direction when it comes to this resistance? Is there a choice to be made, changes on the horizon, differences of opinion?
Resistance is part of being human, simply because change exists. We're wired to recognise risk and to think twice about it. See it for what it is, embrace it and allow the resistance a little space to occupy. You don’t have to go into battle. By creating space you can start to see the whole landscape and the paths across it.
There is a trick in meditation that is helpful when applied here. It’s common for people to say they ‘can’t meditate’. It’s too hard, if not impossible, to think of absolutely nothing, right? This is because when we attempt to resist our thoughts, they seem to get bigger. The mind is pulling in two directions, looking at both the thought and the intention of being clear.
The key to meditation is to shift into a mind that is simply an observer of thoughts.
Generally, we tend to exist believing we are our thoughts. They come to the forefront first, our emotions shaping each one. It’s possible, however, step above and to observe thoughts, instead of swimming in them.
When we stop trying to 'shush’ our minds and instead allow the thoughts to flow in and out as things we are observing, we find ease. By meditating this way, we take the resistance out and instead just watch what we’re thinking about - without being active in it. We can see the bigger picture and probably, alternative solutions we never saw before.
"Of course, you can't force your mind to be silent. That would be like trying to smooth ripples in water with a flat iron. Water becomes clear and calm only when left alone."
- Alan Watts
When we apply that same principle back to resistance in other areas of our lives, the result is the same (I mean, the thoughts are at the centre of it, aren't they?). The presence of resistance does not mean the absence of solutions. We can create the space needed to look for a way past it.
Remember point one where we said the power was in what you want to be moving 'towards'. Focus is key in breaking boundaries that you never thought could be crossed. You know where you want to go, so the oh-so-brilliant mind will find solutions for you as you take each step towards what you want, need or are trying to achieve.
Keep your focus and intention on what you DO want and not what you don't.
In our 21st century, social media-driven world, we've come to expect that results should be instantaneous. When you're setting change in motion and moving past resistance, it will take patience, focus, consistency and time.
This is something you practice and get better at. Stay open to the ways around it, observe when things work, learn when things don’t go as planned. Keep adjusting your sails. Where your attention goes, energy flows so fill up your mind with what's possible, rather than with what's not.
Encourage your team (or yourself!) to have a pioneering spirit. Can't see how you can, where the next turn lies in the road or the solution you're looking for? Explore, take a wide angle lens and look again. There are often resources all around us.
When you start to tackle resistance from the blocks that have been holding you back, it can feel like climbing a mountain. So what do we do when we take on a mountain? Prepare.
Ask yourself: What resources do I have?
What will I need? How much time is it going to take? What obstacles should I prepare for? What do I have to do to be ready for this? Shall I go alone?
Consider everything, seek out what or who will be helpful, find ways to make it manageable, or who could help you with the things you don't already know.
As a leader, there is opportunity here to assist a staff member who might be struggling with resistance. Can you help them see resources where they do not? Explore with them, help them look in other directions and ask them questions that dig deeper (the why's, how's and what if's). An open, curious conversation will also help them to find the solutions that help them realise how they can move past this resistant obstacle and we all know there is nothing better than your own Eureka moment than to be told what you should do. Discovering the way to break through your own resistance helps makes you feel resourceful, more confident, motivated and excited to go to the next step.
5. Take a moment
Have you ever been intently looking for something and not been able to find it? Then it turns out that the thing you were looking for was pretty blatantly on display, but you just couldn’t see it?
We are able to achieve our goals more when we are not blocking ourselves with frustration, disappointment, stress and pressure. All of these tend to come from the thought patterns we're allowing our minds to follow. Following these thought patterns and the feelings they ignite, creates yet more friction that you have to push even harder against. There is no need to hold on tightly to it, acknowledge it, take a moment then let it pass. That way, you won’t get stuck at the brick wall, banging your head up against it.
How Teams Can Start Breaking Through Unconscious Limitations with Life Ladder
You can go on courses and learn the skillsets to do the job but it doesn't deal with the subconscious mindsets, habits and beliefs that stop you from taking the kind of action that delivers results for the organisation. Mindset is equally as important as skillset. When people master their minds, they can achieve anything and Life Ladder was developed to enable employees across all levels of a business become high performers because they learn self-leadership and better communication and collaboration by managing their minds and their behaviours. Through microlearning and our 7-Step Subconscious Catalyst System, managing the mind becomes a daily part of life, as does success and happiness. Resistance is no longer futile, it just no longer exists.
“Life Ladder plants seeds of belief within people, it shows them that they are truly capable of moving past their resistance. With attention and care, these seeds bloom into a garden, bearing the fruits of ease, happiness and success.”
- Natalie Rae, Founder, Life Ladder