GrettaJune 4, 2020

and goal setting. They go hand in hand.

If you've ever tried to implement structure into your life, or tried to make a big change, you likely know resistance well. In this context, it's the pushing away or pushing against a new, self-created idea or plan. For example, you decide you want to start working out in the morning. The first week and a half go smoothly - you're getting up early and working out. You're feeling proud of yourself! However, you feel this sensation of pushing through. You notice it's starting to get a little hard to wake up early. Now, it's Wednesday of your second week. You accidentally forgot to set your alarm. Shoot. You miss your workout and spend the day beating yourself up. Thursday morning rolls around. Your alarm goes off. Hello, resistance.

Now, if you don't know what's going on here, and you're thinking negative thoughts about yourself and your new goal - what's going to happen? You're probably going to do one of two things: ignore your alarm and get some sleep, or you'll berate yourself into getting up and getting your workout in. Neither is going to get you lasting results. Obviously not working out at all doesn't get you to your goal of working out, but using self-loathing to get to your goal is unsustainable. You'll burn yourself out in the getting to your desired result.

So what happens when we want to make a change? Our higher brain makes a decision with our highest good in mind. In this example, working out. Your brain may be making this decision from a positive place, for reasons like: I want to build strong muscles and strong bones, I want to move around easier and with less pain and/or I want to feel more comfortable in my body. Our brain can also come up with negative reasons to make a change, too, such as: I'm fat and disgusting, I have to lose the weight. I hate my body, I have to change.

One will lead you to a sustainable, positive result. One will burn you out. You may still get the result, but you're going to still feel awful even when you get the result you're after. Your negative reasons may get you started and they may keep you going, especially if the self-loathing you're feeling is deep and powerful. But you're going to be in a hurry and desperate to get to your end result. You're probably more likely to take drastic measures - skipping meals, eating in a very restrictive way, and spending hours working out, to name a few.

How does all of this relate to resistance? At some point, no matter if your starting point is positive or negative, resistance to this new habit and new identity will come up. It's how our brains work. They like to keep us safe and keep us the same, so anytime we change something, our lower brains say: NO. This is not who we are. This is not what we do. This will get us killed.

It's completely illogical. But our brains our sneaky. They deliver these messages in code, essentially. They don't out and out say: this will kill us, they say something like, oh, you're tired. You need more rest. You should really get more sleep. You don't need to workout today, you really need a rest day. If you're unaware that this is just your lower brain trying to keep you safe, you're far more likely to follow through with what your lower brain is telling you. It seems reasonable, logical, and true.

So what's the solution? Plan on the resistance. Start to listen for how you like to get yourself out of new activities. Usually there's a common theme like, rest is important. Or this new activity is not important or not a big deal. Just start to listen to the reasons your brain offers you. Awareness is key.

If the resistance chatter is really strong and you spend the entire day arguing with yourself, one thing that works for me is to make a plan, 24 hours in advance, to purposefully NOT do the thing that you've been trying to do. And remind yourself, all day, no, we decided that we're not going to do that today (eat on a plan, workout, follow a schedule) or yes, you have permission to do that thing ALL day (Netflix, Social Media). Notice the thoughts that come up for you. You'll get to see the real reasons why you haven't been wanting to follow through with the new activity, or why you haven't been able to stop something that you've been wanting to stop.

I'd love to hear if this was helpful for you! If you'd like to learn more about starting some positive habits or stopping bad habits, I'd love to chat with you!


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