Break Through Resistance

It happens to all of us. We make a commitment to change, and then, resistance hits. Unexpected barriers, that we don’t know how to deal with, can be one of the biggest reasons that we don’t achieve our goals. Resistance can easily discourage us and give us reasons not to change. 

For some people, resistance can show up as all those little “what ifs.” Change—even if it is positive—can be scary

  • “What if I’m never happy?”
  • “What if I don’t get the new job?”
  • “What if I fail?”

Ask yourself, what other forms can resistance take?

Internal Barriers

Internal barriers include the thoughts you have about yourself, your goal, and your success. When these thoughts come up, they keep us in the cycle of resisting steps towards achieving our goal. These thoughts may include fears, past hurts, and core negative beliefs about ourselves, the world, or others. Here are some examples. 

“What if I can’t say anything nice about myself?”

Try telling yourself neutral statements about yourself or the situation (e.g., I am taking a step towards being nicer to myself, and this is new.).  If the steps towards loving ourselves are too big, then it can feel inauthentic, and we can resist it. 

“What if I find myself procrastinating on taking steps towards what I want?”

Try getting social support. Could you ask a friend to cheer you on or remind you to focus on your goal each day? If the resistance is loud, spend some time reflecting on what you want. Is what you want aligning with your values, your passions, and what you really want? If not, the resistance might be giving you a stop sign for a reason.

External Barriers

External barriers include barriers outside of yourself. These could include money, time, resources, or other people. We are often not in direct control of these external barriers, but we can determine how much time and attention we give them. Here are some examples.

“What if my partner doesn’t want to do couples counseling?”

Try examining what role you are playing in the negative pattern that you and your partner are stuck in. Once you examine your role, you can decide what changes you are willing to make in the relationship and begin making those changes. Sometimes small changes can have a big impact on our relationships.

“What if my loved one(s) don’t support the way I am changing?”

Change is hard for everyone, including our loved ones. Sometimes, loved ones may just need some time to adjust to the changes they see in you. Other times, you may need to reevaluate relationship boundaries or relationship expectations. Above all, make sure that you surround yourself with people who support the positive changes you are making. 

Once you make the decision to move towards change, anticipate that brick walls will appear on your path. These brick walls do not mean that you are doing anything wrong. They are a part of the process of change. The more that you can anticipate them, recognize them, and overcome them, the easier it will be to continue to make small steps towards the life you are wanting. 


Dr. Debra Rezendes – Resident in Marriage and Family Counseling

Debra has over ten years of community and clinical work experience with individuals, children, parents, and families. She has been published in the Journal of Happiness Studies and Autism Research and Treatment. Debra received her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern University. She has skills in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), strengths-based therapies, self-compassion training, attachment-based therapies, play therapy, and solution-focused therapy.

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