Resistance to change? Dance!

Here are some basic examples of resistance to change:

A mom decides to eat healthier. Her husband and kids don’t like the change. They say they don’t want to eat healthier, so they eat different food than she does. She gets discouraged and goes back to eating unhealthy again.

At a business an awesome new cafeteria is installed. Many people complain about the new design and talk about how much better the old cafeteria was. For the first month, only a few people eat there.

The City of Austin started composting and gave us a bin. I decided to give it a try so I got a little container for the kitchen to put compost stuff in, like eggshells and orange peels. I would empty the container each day into the bin. That’s the idea anyway. The minute I opened the box, however, I hated the container. I put it in the kitchen and I hated its location. My family saw it. They didn’t like it either. I moved it to a different spot.

When the composting container first came into the house, I noticed my resistance. I rolled with it. Then when my family complained, I said something like this:

“It’s normal to resist something new. Let’s call it an experiment and give it a chance.”

If you’ve been in the habit of losing your temper and you decide to stop, you’ll experience resistance to change.

> Your kids might push your buttons more than ever (for a while).

> Someone else in the family might take up the habit of yelling (for a while).

> Your mother might start criticizing you more than usual, or she might all of a sudden ask for help more than usual.

All the things that make you crazy — the things that make you more likely to lose your temper — they may happen (for a while).

That’s resistance to change.

Sometimes it’s hard to notice resistance, because it feels personal, like the universe (or your toddler) is blocking you.

And they kind of are blocking you. But they’re not doing it on purpose. The people in your life are just used to you the way you are, so they’re going to treat you like your old self for a while, or even try to push you back into your old habits for a while.

When you begin to work on ending the yelling habit, sometimes it feels like being a cigarette smoker walking past your old smoking spot, or watching your old smoking buddies take their smoke break. (Like, getting through the morning routine without yelling might be a challenge for a while.)

One story you can tell about resistance goes like this: “I tried and it was too hard — no one wanted me to succeed, so I gave up.”

But instead of getting stressed out, angry or discouraged, here’s what I encourage you to do:

Dance.

Seriously, put on a fun song and feel that goodness in your body.

And try telling this story instead: “Resistance is a sign that I’m changing. I’m on the road to success. I’m excited to keep going!”

Resistance is nobody’s fault. It’s just part of the process of change.

So hold your ground, and dance. Celebrate.

Notice how many times I said “a while.” Resistance won’t last forever.

The longer you hold your ground, the more the resistance will fall away. People will get used to the new you, and you will get used to the new you too.

Will it happen overnight? Like can you yell for your last time like putting out your last cigarette forever? Not in my experience. A change like this takes time and practice. And noticing resistance (and celebrating it) takes practice too.

So you probably will yell again, and that push-back you feel may make you lose it a few more times, but the yelling will become less frequent and less dramatic over time and then, one day you’ll do a new dance. That’ll be the day you notice: the resistance is gone. You’ve succeeded. Welcome to the new you. <3

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