What happens when we resist change, and why is change inevitable? Here is a comprehensive guide on how to overcome resistance and embrace change.
Whether you’re someone who prefers the comforts of home or you’re an adventurous spirit who loves to explore, change can be scary – even in the best of circumstances!
Even though we all have a natural desire for novelty and newness, the human psyche equates anything new or “unknown” with potential danger, and since we must face the unknown in order embrace change, most of us instinctively gravitate towards the familiar, often avoiding change altogether.
Just to make matters worse, there’s a whole bunch of common clichés that tell us we should resist change at all costs. For example:
- You have to play the cards you’ve been dealt!
- Your fate is sealed – so just accept it!
- Once your bed is made, you have to lie in it!
Regardless of whether we’re rhetorical victims of the “cards we’ve been dealt” or we’re trapped in a “bed we’ve made,” we’re led to believe that we have little power to change, and therefore, once we make a major life choice, we must resign ourselves to the consequences – no matter how bleak.
As a result, we might pay the price by enduring problematic jobs, unfulfilling relationships or challenging life circumstances. Fortunately, life comes with an automatic “fail safe”!
While it may seem easier to stay in our respective comfort zones and resist change, the nature of life ensures that change is inevitable, and in fact, to compensate for any resistance, we each come equipped with an automatic “fail safe” that propels us towards change – whether we like it or not. However, make no mistake, we’re not talking about random change here, but rather, we’re talking about the type of change that moves us towards a higher purpose – and specifically, a purpose that is unique for each of us.
Much like an internal alarm, the “fail-safe” usually begins as a gentle nudge of dissatisfaction in some aspect of our lives. Even though we might be able to ignore this warning indefinitely, and we all have free will to do so, the longer we ignore the warning, the louder it becomes, and of course, this means that our “comfort zone” gets less and less comfortable, the more we resist change.
Therefore, if we’re willing to tolerate unfulfilling or difficult life circumstances or we’re waiting for a crisis to propel us into action, we set ourselves up for unnecessary challenges.
As the expression goes, “You can go the easy way or the hard way,” but either way, change is inevitable!
So, how can we overcome resistance and avoid unnecessary challenges while effectively navigating change?
Well, to answer this question, I’ve developed the “The 6 Stages of (resisting) Change!” Through this comprehensive guide, you’re about to learn how to:
- Identify your current “stage of change.”
- Understand the cost of resistance (what happens when you resist change?).
- Recognize and avoid unnecessary challenges.
- Embrace change by making conscious life choices (before challenges force you to…).
Keep in mind that by embracing change at any stage, we can avoid the unnecessary challenges associated with the next!
Stage 1 – The Stage of Complacent Discomfort
Unfortunately, our most important adult choices are often based on the limiting beliefs we inherited in childhood, and because our true dreams and desires are often overshadowed as a result, we may find ourselves chained to unfulfilling jobs or committed to ill-suited partners, or quite possibly, both!
Whether a job, relationship or situation was not right from the start and we’ve been lying to ourselves for years or it was once a good fit but we’ve since outgrown it, the first stage of change is usually marked by a state of “complacent discomfort.”
Although a job or relationship might appear good at face value, and maybe nothing is really “wrong,” during Stage One, we begin to experience a sense of growing discomfort.
As a way to overlook this discomfort, we rationalize our circumstances and we find compelling reasons to “settle,” such as financial security, convenience, comfort and/or emotional stability. Not to mention, if we’ve already invested time and energy into our current job, partner or situation, we might be afraid to lose that investment or the promise of future rewards. Or, maybe, we just don’t want to hurt someone we care about.
Moreover, if leaving a job or relationship results in the loss of one’s perceived worth, it’s common to deny the truth so that we can resist change at all costs.
We might also convince ourselves that we’re not good enough, young enough or smart enough to start over, and if we believe that “we can’t do any better,” we naturally settle for less than we desire.
So, not only do we “settle,” we find ways to rationalize why we should!
As long as circumstances are tolerable and the rewards seem to outweigh the costs, we might be able to make peace with mediocrity during Stage One, and even though we know we’re settling, we grow accustomed to living this way.
Nonetheless, when the reasons to stay overshadow the desire for change, “complacent discomfort” might appear to be the path of least resistance. However, appearances can be deceptive….because in order to remain in less than ideal circumstances, we must “mindlessly go through the motions” day after day, and while we pretend that everything’s okay, we must deny our true feelings and desires.
As a result of ongoing denial and resistance to change, Stage One is often the longest stage, and not surprisingly, by the end of this stage, it’s common to experience some level of lethargy, hopelessness and even depression.
During Stage One, the Universe provides a gentle nudge in the direction of change, but if that nudge isn’t enough to propel us towards change, we enter Stage Two….and this is when that nudge becomes a noticeable shove.