Tune in to the word.
What does it mean to you? What do you see/feel/experience?
For most people resistance is associated with putting up a fight, perhaps with force, almost certainly with a digging in of heels. In the world of art, resistance art is used as a way of showing opposition to power-holders. In science, resistance is about electrical current repulsion…how hard it is for a current to flow through a circuit component…or it’s about fluids and gases opposing motion and flow.
All of these meanings are valuable, and in their particular context, important. Yet out of context, such meanings can leave us with an association to resistance along the lines of:
Resistance is probably not something you associate with powerful personal transformation. In the context of you and your evolving maturity, you probably don’t welcome it with open arms or feel excited about understanding its purpose and origins.
So we are going to press pause on common associations to resistance and take another look in the context of you and any change you’re experiencing. To begin this new look at resistance consider these questions:
- What if resistance to change is normal?
- What if learning to discern whether your resistance to change is caused by fear of the unknown, or intuition that the change isn’t right for you, is life-changing?
- What if moving into and beyond fear-based resistance is transformational?
In this blog we are going to explore question 2 as an absolutely core skill to learn in order to make wise life enhancing choices.
At 35 years of age Sophia hit a wall in her relationship with Adam. He wanted to get married, but Sophia wasn’t sure. Adam said her doubts were her fear of change speaking. Sophia went away to think about things. Maybe Adam was right and it was fear of change that was creating her resistance. Or maybe something deep inside her knew that marrying Adam wasn’t a wise decision. When Sophia returned from her quiet time away, she declined Adam’s wedding proposal and they split up. It was hard for both of them but Sophia knew it was for the best. Whilst she’d been away she had discerned the difference between her fear and her intuition.
In this situation the root cause of Sophia’s resistance was her intuition letting her know what she knew deep in her heart. That Adam wasn’t the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.
Grace’s story is another matter. Grace had been working in an organisation for 15 years. She worked long hours, was well respected and had reached a senior position. Outside of work, life was very busy too and getting busier. Her two children and her husband meant the world to her, she was active in the local community, and training for a marathon.
On the surface things looked great for Grace, but deep down she was in turmoil. Grace had always wanted to be a writer. She had loved reading and writing from a young age. At university she’d written short stories in her spare time and she knew she had a talent for it, but she’d never thought about publishing the stories or ‘earning a living’ from writing. She was on the path of becoming a lawyer. It’s what her father had always wanted for her and she had been attracted to the respectability and relative security of the profession.
Nowadays Grace didn’t have time for reading (except work related articles, and business newspapers) and she hadn’t written short stories for a long time. About a year ago, she had a chance encounter on a train with a man who was a writer. They’d been sitting beside each other and Grace had noticed the man was reading The Stranger by Albert Camus. The book had captivated Grace as a student and she shared this with the man on the train. They struck up a conversation. It turned out the man was a writer and quite famous in his field. He was also a professor of Classics and lived an unusual lifestyle (from Grace’s frame of reference.)
When Grace got off the train, she felt more alive than she had done in years. Something had stirred in her soul during the conversation. She wanted more and had intended to do some research into writing and philosophy courses. As a teenager she’d been fascinated by philosophy and wanted to study it, but her mother had said to her “Grace, think about it. What on earth would you do with a philosophy degree?”
When she got home she couldn’t wait to tell her husband about the conversation but as soon as she arrived he handed the kids over to her with a quick hello and disappeared into the study for conference calls. The next day at work things became incredibly busy with a deal Grace was working on. The team and the client needed 110% of her energy, and so her chance encounter, with its invitation, became lost for a while.
A few months later Grace was struggling with motivation at work. She wasn’t eating well and was drinking more than she knew was good for her. Her marriage was in trouble too. She felt like a hamster stuck on a wheel going round and round in circles. She thought about her chance encounter with the man on the train again and began to consider more seriously the possibility of making some changes in her life. She was fed up of feeling permanently exhausted through non-stop activity and was asking herself big questions about what she was doing with her life.
She thought things through once, twice, many times. But whichever way she looked at it, she couldn’t see a way out. She couldn’t possibly make a change without some qualifications to back her up and the courses she was interested in were expensive. (Grace didn’t do things by half so wanted proper reputable courses). What if she wasn’t any good at writing any more? After all, those short stories were a long time ago. And philosophy wasn’t for people like her. What was she thinking of? Anyway she needed to earn a big salary to contribute to the family’s lifestyle. She’d feel so guilty if she felt she wasn’t pulling her weight.
A couple of weeks ago Grace had a fall whilst running. She literally fell over her own shoe-laces. Grace broke her leg and hurt her head quite badly. She’s now out of action for at least 3 weeks with doctor’s orders to rest and forget about work for a while.
One week in and Grace was going stir crazy. Over the years work had become an addiction and she can’t stay away from her phone email, or relax into recovering properly. She knew physically getting in and out of the office was a silly thing to attempt, but she didn’t see why the doctor had advised her to forget about work. She was going to raise it at the hospital check up. She’d prepared her case for throwing herself into work again and knew what she was going to say.
There was a big queue at the hospital when Grace went for the check up. She found the wait difficult as she was used to things happening fast. The moment she entered the consultant’s room, the consultant was called away. Grace was left staring at a desk on which there was an item in full view that she couldn’t quite believe she was seeing. A book…
The Stranger by Albert Camus.
Let’s leave Grace’s story there (for now). She has already shown us so much about resistance. She can feel that inner call for change and she’s resisting it. In Grace’s situation, the root cause of her resistance is fear of the unknown.
This fear is manifesting as busyness, guilt, loyalty, over-thinking, self-doubt, and using lack of qualifications as a reason for not moving forwards. All these manifestations have the positive intent of trying to protect Grace from harm but in reality they do not serve her or those around her.
Perhaps you can relate to Sophia and Grace and their stories. Your story could be closely aligned or it could be similar but different. Maybe you intuitively knew that the overseas secondment offered to you wasn’t a good move. Or perhaps you’ve been trying to set up your own business for years but fear of the unknown keeps you returning to jobs that are safe but lack meaning and purpose for you. Or you’re approaching retirement in a career that has defined you, and are burning yourself out with activity so that you don’t have to acknowledge, accept and embrace the potentially wonderful new life phase that awaits. Or you’re keeping yourself small in your job and out of sight when life has presented you with opportunity after opportunity to claim more of your potential.
Or perhaps you’re like I was 15 years ago…married to a glamorous job and allowing it to take every ounce of your life force and shape you into a male version of success that doesn’t fit who you are as a woman and what you’re here for.
When contemplating a change do you know the difference between resistance that is fear based and resistance that is your intuition saying ‘no this isn’t right for you’?
Being able to confidently answer yes to this question is a game changer. Whatever your scenario the capacity to discern whether your reluctance to make a move is fear based or the wisdom of your intuition is an essential life skill to develop.
If you discern that it is indeed fear that is at the root cause of your resistance to change, have you noticed how your resistance shows up? Over the years I’ve become aware that self-doubt and busyness are the two main characters in my resistance show. What’s your unique blend of fear based resistance?
In the programme we consider resistance to change in our fourth module Transforming Resistance. In this module we work with an innovative 4 stage approach to moving into and beyond your resistance.
Fully You is a programme that can support you if you’re a professional who is:
- Feeling stressed through having to spin lots of plates in work and life, play lots of roles, and meet lots of expectations (including the high ones you have of yourself).
- At a crossroads in life and facing big decisions as your priorities shift and a new beginning calls.
- Wanting to approach change in a new way, one that is loving and doesn’t leave you exhausted or disheartened.
If any of these resonate with you then please do contact me and book a call to explore if Fully You is right for you. You can reach me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 7715 704953 and we can set up a time to talk.
A participant from the last series of Fully You in the Summer shared this endorsement.
“I have just finished the Fully You programme and I have to say it was an amazing journey. The structure of the sessions every week is thoughtfully constructed, flows very naturally and Mandy also has the intuition and skill to allow flexibility where there are specific issues that come up that may not “fit” with that week! She is an incredible individual, who has the ability to engage so genuinely and fully that it is quite humbling. I always finish a session feeling motivated, invigorated and with a positive feeling deep inside. It is a special gift to be able to engage in this way over video – but Mandy is able to deliver on her promise. I would highly recommend joining for the next programme or program depending on your location and I would be happy to give more feedback directly to anyone who is contemplating taking part.”
Tracy Isacke, Managing Director, Silicon Valley Bank
All details of the programme are HERE.
I’d love to see some of you on the Autumn series of Fully You.
If you know anyone else who might be interested please do forward this blog on to them.
M: +44 7715 704953
Author: Mandy Muckalt
An experienced facilitator and coach supporting professionals to lead and live from wholeness, and to flourish in turbulent times.