Tackling Mental Resistance to Change

Why do we avoid things that we know make us feel good? Many of us can easily rattle off a list of “self-care” activities but do we actually do them? Identifying areas of our lives that we want to change is a whole lot easier than actually doing the work to make the changes. So why don’t we do what we need to do? While there are a lot of tangible barriers—busy work schedule, financial costs, etc, there is also mental resistance to consider.

Making Changes is Scary

It is normal to be afraid of the unknown — it’s part of being human. Anxiety allows us to respond to danger and crisis, and is part of what has enabled us to survive. However, sometimes the anxiety surpasses what is protective and holds us back from diving into the unknown and making change that would be good for us.

So what can we do about that? It’d be great if that fear could simply disappear, but in reality, it is about having awareness and then practicing skills to challenge and overcome the anxiety. For example, say you have wanted to start making time for new hobbies and you have been thinking about trying an improv class for years. Begin by identifying the thoughts that come up when you think about signing up for the first class. Are you worried that you will embarrass yourself? That others will judge you for not being funny? After you have identified the thoughts you can begin to respond and challenge them directly. Tell yourself that not only is it okay to feel this way, but it is normal to feel anxious! Remind yourself that while you do feel anxious, you are going to take the class anyway.  If we simply wait for the anxiety to disappear, then we are likely never going to make changes!

Making Change is Difficult

Why would we willingly invite something stressful into our lives? Of course we avoid taking actions that are difficult. So remember to acknowledge that you are likely going to feel like you are swimming upstream when you do something outside of your normal routine. If we begin with the expectation that we will come up against resistance we can prepare ourselves to challenge these feelings. Say you want to begin going to yoga classes during the week but feel resistance to making a change to your work-week routine. Tell yourself: “I know this is going to be disrupting and difficult at first, but ultimately I know I will feel good if I practice making time for yoga in my schedule during the week.”

I Don’t Feel Worthy of Change

Often our beliefs about ourselves can be an obstacle to making changes that will make us feel good. Do you feel guilty when you prioritize self-care? Does making time for yourself feel too selfish? Many of us struggle to take off of work when we’re sick or will put others’ needs before our own. Instead, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, prioritizing our wellness is not selfish. It will have a positive impact on our relationships and careers because we ultimately will have more to give.

Therapy can be supportive in actively addressing these obstacles to making change.  If you would like to learn more about how therapy can help you, reach out to Cobb Psychotherapy to learn more or to schedule a free phone consult.

718-260-6462

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