Updated: Aug 11, 2022
Are you resisting your own growth, or change in general, even when you know that it is good for you? This is your fast thinking, OS (Operating Self), fixed mindset, hard at work trying to keep you safe. (See my blog "Two Modes of Thinking: OS vs ES" for a deeper dive into thinking patterns.) To your OS stability (the devil you know) is equal to safety no matter how bad that devil may be. Your OS likes familiarity, and sees change as a threat and something to guard against. This is why we resist change and growth, even when we know it's good for us. This kind of thinking, resistance thinking, is instinctual and unconscious. It may even be so strong and produce so much fear that it starts to distort our critical thinking (the ES - your Empowered Self) which will then come up with "reasons" that serve as excuses not to change.
Making change, especially lasting change, requires that we consciously observe our thinking and challenge our excuses. We also need to recognize the fear that is behind excuses and feel that fear without denying it. Then we can take positive action that is in line with personal growth.
The problem with excuses is that they can sound a lot like valid reasons. This is why we need to really examine the excuses that make up resistance. There is a saying that no one ever argues with their own data. That's exactly what excuses are: our own data. Keep in mind that when excuses come from us - our own data - they sound like valid reasons. So, when I say challenge your excuses, what I really mean is take a look at your reasons from an objective point of view. How? Follow these steps:
Make a list of the reasons you have for not making the change, or why it will fail.
Before you review the list, clear your mind in some way. Here are a few ideas: Spend a few minutes deep breathing, take a walk in nature and find five things of beauty, if available spend some time with horses. Whatever you do consciously relax, let go of tension and clear your head.
As you review the list, put yourself in the shoes of someone who really wants to make the change.
Take a look at each reason as if it were someone else's excuse and determine how it can be overcome.
Make peace with fear
One reason for resistance and excuses is fear. We are all afraid of the unknown. Try to recognize the fear that lies behind your resistance. Give it a name. Feel it. Then let it be OK. Accept that this fear is a part of you. Accepting fear, and accepting the way things are (rather than the way we wish they were) gives us the freedom to start to move forward. Acceptance is the difference between pain and suffering. Pain is the temporary thing we feel from something that happened to us, suffering is completely optional. Suffering comes from non-acceptance of the way things are. Recognizing the things that are not in our control, and accepting them - letting them be OK - or at least understanding that this is “what is” - is the key to ending suffering.
Take positive action
Positive action does not necessarily mean big action. Actually, it may work better for you in the long run if it is little action. What one small action can you take to move in the direction of change? Complete that action, and ask the same question again. Small positive steps, taken in sequence start to develop a pattern of positive behavior. Patterns are easier for our brains to follow. When we've been there before things look a little less scary. Keep in mind, your Operating Self (fixed mindset) loves a pattern of behavior. Use your Empowered Self (growth mindset) to help establish a good one!