If you’ve ever tried to make a big change you may have noticed there are a few common stages we all go through.
Firstly, we usually have feelings of motivation and excitement. This is because the prospect of change – a new habit is exciting and new. We pump ourselves up and dream of all the possibilities it will bring.
We tell ourselves how much better life will be once we are living by these new values or whatever it may be.
These feelings may last anywhere from hours to days to months. Maybe the resistance begins before we even get a chance to start the new behaviour.
Sometimes we make it few a few instances before the resistance begins.
Regardless of when resistance occurs it usually affects us in the same way. We begin to run from the discomfort of this resistance. Our mind starts telling us stories and these thoughts begin to create new emotions.
They begin to affect how we feel in a negative way. Then we react to these new emotions and our mind starts telling us more stories.
It tells us more reasons we should just stay where we are. We should stay in the comfort zone.
But what if we could react differently to this resistance to change? Well, by using mindfulness we can.
You see these feelings of unease and discomfort is quite normal for most people. These thoughts of doubt are also quite normal. Once we can notice this place we have an opportunity to exhibit great power.
Next time you are in this place just sit with it. There is no need to resist it. No need to run from it.
Instead, cultivate an attitude of curiosity. Use your detective skills to ask yourself what is it you’re really feeling? That is what sparked the resistance – not what you’re feeling as a result of the resistance.
These may be the same two emotions but they may be different. Could it be fear is driving the resistance but anxiety is a result of the reaction to the negative stories?
This is a very important distinction because we may react to the secondary emotion without ever first questioning the primary emotion.
If fear is driving the resistance, you may ask yourself, What is it I’m afraid of?
Are you scared of the idea of change? Are you scared of the scenario or situation you are exposing yourself to? Are you scared you might fail? Are you scared you might not be good enough?
Ask yourself these questions with curiosity and then acknowledge that it’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling. It’s okay to be scared of change. It’s okay to think negative thoughts.
Remember, thoughts are not facts, they are merely stories. They may be loosely based on past experience but they are often heavily biased from certain memories. They rarely tell the full story.
These stories often use exaggerated language such as I have always been… or I have always done… but this isn’t reality. We may have very well been or behaved a certain way in some situations but there are often many examples where we have flown in the face of these stories.
But our mind loves to use one-sided examples to prove its point. To try to persuade us that the story it’s trying to tell is the only story that matters.
So hold these stories lightly, and relax into the resistance to change. Create some distance between you, your emotions and your thoughts and stick to the plan.
If we can do this, we will often surprise ourselves and step by step we can begin to rewrite the story.