I love living in Vermont and with the exception of what’s known as Mud Season (when you step on the gas, cross your fingers and hope you get through a long stretch of mud in the road), I pretty much enjoy it all year long. And yet my husband prefers to spend the winter months in the Southwest. So, for a few years now he’s headed out West while I found reasons (aka obstacles) to stay behind and adjust to our temporary and separate living arrangements.
Despite the excuses of the past few years, all of which actually had workarounds, I recently bit the bullet, stopped resisting, removed obstacles, and headed to Arizona with my husband for a few short months. Each day here has delivered blue skies, plenty of sun with temperatures between the 60-70’s, followed by beautiful star-lit nights. All the while, the winter back home and across most of the U.S. has been brutal. As I sit outside on a lawn chair soaking up the warm sun, I have to wonder “so, why all the resistance to coming here in the first place?”
But isn’t that often the way when we’ve been in resistance to something? Once we finally move beyond it, we wonder “What took me so long?”.
Resistance can be a huge challenge when we want to pursue something new, change old habits, or build new ones. The obstacles associated with resistance become frequent and comfortable hang-out places for us so much so that we don’t even realize we’ve become complacent there!
What are the most frequent obstacles people throw in their way and how do you push past them?
1. Excuses – Most commonly seen in dieting, starting a workout regimen, making a career change or breaking off an unhealthy relationship. We either think things are going to miraculously change by doing nothing or waiting a bit longer – tomorrow, next week, or beyond. And often when one excuse gets removed, we conveniently find another to replace it.
2. The Blaming Game – Obstacles often come in the form of blaming someone else for your not getting things done. You may want to make that all important career change or write a book but someone’s made you believe it’s not a good idea or you’re not capable. Or you might think, “if only <insert name> would do xyz, then I could accomplish abc” – an easy recipe for evading responsibility for yourself and your actions.
3. Making assumptions – Frequently we make assumptions about someone or something that keeps us from moving forward. Without exploring them further to see if our assumptions are accurate, our ideas seem harder to pursue or even impossible to accomplish.
4. Fear – Fear keeps millions of us trapped from exploring possibilities in our world. In fact, it’s probably the biggest obstacle of all. While a healthy fear has its place and can keep us physically safe, too often it acts as a blind spot, keeping us from doing the things we’d really like to do and making the changes we desire. Instead, fear keeps us within our comfort zone, continuing with the old thoughts, behaviors, people and situations rather than taking steps towards our aspirations.
5. Pre-programming – According to Bruce Lipton, in his book ‘The Biology of Belief’, the subconscious mind processes 500,000 times more information than the conscious mind does. That means we’re taking in loads of stuff subconsciously – information that can become a large part of how we’re running our life and experience.
For some people, their subconscious may have stored school yard taunting’s about their clumsiness, or how they were told at age 7 they couldn’t do math which now keeps them from pursuing a passion that requires it. And then there are the kids who’ve been told by a teacher or parent that they’d never amount to anything.
Innocent yet impactful words and situations are tucked away wreaking havoc and causing resistance in people’s lives without them even knowing about it!
What to Do?
To understand where, when, or why you might be constructing obstacles, as you go through your day, pay attention to the number of times you think or say you can’t do something – the big and the little things. Write down the reasons for the resistance and for each ask:
- What does it sound like when I repeat this excuse to myself? Have I built a strong case for not doing something?
- What does it feel like? Research and evidence now exists suggesting our own bodies offer a great deal of wisdom and intuition, bringing to the surface unconscious thoughts and beliefs. Close your eyes and as you repeat your excuses, pay attention to what you’re feeling in your body. Do you feel a tightening in the chest? A fluttering in your stomach or an increased pulse in your head, as an example? Whether the feeling is expansive, warm or cold, sharp or dull can start to clue you into your subconscious response and the decisions that are right or wrong for you. The Mind Body Method that I use with my clients is very effective in surfacing the subconscious thoughts and emotions that cause people to be stuck. Once trapped energy begins to flow again, people are able to reclaim themselves, let go of old stories, and make the shift towards new behavior. Sharon Anne Klinger offers an easy-to-read book ‘Power Words’, that has some simple exercises that can also provide you with a small taste of tapping into your own body for its intuitiveness.
- Am I over-thinking what it is I want to do and how? Because our society places more emphasis on cognitive thinking, we can get wrapped up in our heads and become paralyzed from doing anything. We conjure up obstacles – fear being a big one. If this is you, try tapping into your body’s ‘other brains’- your heart and your gut – by paying attention to how they’re responding to what you’re saying, thinking, and doing. Check out the HeartMath Institute for more on research regarding the heart-brain connection as well as the Neuroscience stuff article on gut instincts as your second brain.
- Can I seek others input – This is not suggesting you go back to the people who say you can’t do something but rather someone who you can turn to that you trust or someone you admire who’s not afraid of trying something new or who has transformed themselves through a new career, a re-location, or even a start-up; a person you can turn to as a supportive and unbiased confidant. As an alternative, hire a business or personal coach who can listen with open ears and mind.
Awareness is the first step in de-constructing obstacles and with focused commitment can lead to breakthroughs.
Explore why you’re in resistance and why, learning to tap into your body’s wisdom along the way. If you get stuck, look for the resources that can help you honestly look at the reality of the obstacles, delving into ways to remove them so you can begin to work towards what you want. You don’t have to go it alone which leads to my favorite quote and one I’ve put into action a lot in my own life, “Leap and the net will appear”!