Internal resistance shows up every time we decide to make change.
Our brains are awesome. They’ve kept us at the top of the food chain for over 2 million years, and that’s something I’m grateful for. They’re also great at keeping us alive through instincts like escaping burning buildings, and responses like fight or flight.
But that biological impulse which keeps us alive, can also keep us stuck. We experience this every time we alter our routines. When you try to wake up early to exercise, your body doesn’t make it easy. Our bodies want comfort. In fact, they crave it.
And I appreciate that about my body, and I’m grateful that it wants me to relax.
But it doesn’t know any better. It doesn’t know that I’m trying to accomplish big things. It doesn’t know that I’m trying to make a difference in people’s lives.
And neither does yours.
Your body wants you to be comfortable. It wants you to return to “normal,” to revert to your mean.
It can’t see the future like you can. You’ve taken the time to think about the life you want for yourself and your loved ones. You’ve made a plan and you’re executing it. Your body’s just going to have to come along for the ride.
And it will. It’s just going to take a little time for it to adjust to the fact you’ve leveled up and this is in fact, your new normal.
To expedite that process, you need to expect resistance.
As a financial advisor, I’ve been helping people overcome resistance and pursue the financial futures they desire for over 20 years. I’m honored to be named to Investopedia’s list of the top 100 financial advisors many years running.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Preparing yourself for resistance
- Bad things happen
- Arguing for our limitations
- The remedy is choice
- A practical application
Preparing yourself for resistance
The natural byproduct of change is resistance. You’ve gotten to this point in your life doing what you’ve always done. As we talked about in the previous section, change is probably required.
To help you expect and overcome resistance, write your answers to these questions:
- How have you tried to improve your financial life in the past?
- How did you go about it (be as specific as possible)?
- How long have you been feeling like you need to make a change?
- Have you tried anything that worked?
- How has a lack of financial success affected you (emotionally, psychologically, physiologically)?
- How frustrated are you right now?
That last question is important. Why will anything be different this time? Are you in a place where you feel you must make a change?
Those are really important and impactful questions to ask yourself. But I want to go deeper to root out another form of internal resistance.
Bad things happen
Buddha taught the world of Four Noble Truths. The First is that suffering is part of the world, and everyone suffers. The Second is that there is a cause for the suffering. The Third is knowing that suffering can end. The Fourth is knowing there is a way to end suffering.
Bad things happen to us.
Me dropping my ice cream when I was four was bad. My parents getting divorced when I was five was worse.
Adversity, also known as difficulty or misfortune, comes at us at different levels. The trick is what we do when it happens; how do we respond when things go wrong.
We’re constantly taking in new stimuli that lead to a response. We stop at red lights and go when the green light comes on.
In fact, everyday we’re making 35,000 decisions. If we assume eight hours of sleep, that means we’re making around 36 decisions a minute. While many of those are unconscious decisions, the bottom line is that we’re constantly taking in information and deciding.
Growing up, I was a competitive tennis player. Without realizing it, tennis taught me a lot about handling adversity. With only 20 seconds between points, it’s essential to move on from the previous point quickly and as completely as possible. There’s no value in dwelling on past failure.
Today, I view adversity and failure as a teacher. While I don’t dwell on it, I try to take as many positives from bad experiences as possible.
Arguing for our limitations
Life is easy when we live in the present moment. When we do this, we’re unencumbered by past trauma and bad feelings. We’re free to engage fully in whatever activity we’re doing.
Life is hard when we live in the past. We all have past trauma and pain, but constantly reliving it keeps us trapped. If you keep thinking what you’ve always thought, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve always got.
Have you ever found yourself explaining to someone why you’re not where you want to be? Have you ever tried to justify why things didn’t work out the way you wanted them to? When we argue for the factors that prevent us from getting what we want and use them as a justification, we give away our agency.
Victimhood is celebrated in society. Embracing victimhood can keep someone trapped in their current situation, unable to progress to a better life they truly want. It’s dangerous when society does this to an individual, and more dangerous when an individual does it to themselves.
All too often, we spend so much time talking about the things we don’t want. When we fall into that trap, it’s no surprise that’s what we end up having.
So, how do we heal from past trauma and move towards the better future we desire?
The remedy is choice
You have choice. You have the option to take ownership. Drop your old story and stop arguing for your limitations. You can write a new story.
Ask yourself, “What do I want in this situation?” Once we realize the situation is not creating the problem, that how we’re thinking about it is creating the problem, you can reframe it.
We have the choice to think about every situation how we want.
Can you stop arguing for your limitations? Will you?
A practical application
Think about someone who has a job they don’t like. The alarm goes off and they wake up in a bad mood on Monday morning. They spend their time in the shower feeling anxious about the week. Stuck in traffic, they’re frustrated and angry. When they get to work, they spend their time hating their life, counting down the hours until they can leave.
We all know someone living this nightmare. Maybe you have personal experience with it. It’s an awful situation and my heart goes out to anyone trapped in it.
What would your advice to them be (aside from “find a new job”)? You can reframe and shift your thinking. Here’s an alternative world to the one I just described.
The alarm goes off. You wake up realizing you’ll have the opportunity to spend time with or check in on family and friends. In the shower, you recognize and are grateful for the amazing feeling of hot water on your body. In the car, you cherish the time when you’re able to catch up on your favorite podcasts. At work, you embrace the challenge of bringing positivity into every interaction and to brighten the day of the person you’re communicating with.
When you feel you have choice, you’re in charge. You’re 100% in control. When you get aggravated by what’s on TV, turn it off. Don’t like what you’re seeing on Facebook, close the app.
Be a good steward of what you let into your mind. Get in the habit of choosing how you think and feel about the situations in your life, and start rewriting and reframing those stories and situations that don’t serve you. You’re in charge.
Please understand, I’m not diminishing or discounting trauma you’ve experienced. Your personal experience is yours and yours alone. I encourage and implore you to get the help you need.
And then I encourage and implore you to recognize the reality that you have the power to choose. You can let your history define your present and your future. Or, you can choose to make your present and your future whatever you want.
Once you take ownership of your ability to make that decision, you’re on the path to living the life you want. Doing so will help you get more personal responsibility in your life.
Can you let go of the love you have for your problem(s)? Can you stop arguing for your limitations? Will you?
These are the highest forms of internal resistance, and they’re self-inflicted. Mustering the courage to face and overcome them is your key to moving past them. And you can do it.
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