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Resistance Is Natural - but Not Helpful - in Times of Change
Here are five feelings we all experience in changing times. Check these out for yourself by thinking about times when you were experiencing significant life change, either personal or professional.
1. We feel that our personal security is being threatened;
2. Our conventional expectations are disrupted;
3. Strong "out-of-control" feelings want to take over;
4. Awkwardness and embarrassment occur; and
5. We feel fear that we look foolish - that we're "flailing around." Resistance is normal any time change is occurring, because none of us like these feelings, and yet we all feel them. And the feelings are usually directly proportional to the degree and rapidity of the change that's being asked of us.
In a way, change is a kind of death, because it involves a loss of what has been familiar -- often for a long time. This is true whether or not the change is positive or negative. A terrific new job, for instance, means that an old, familiar job will be lost. A divorce may involve many losses simultaneously - spouse, children, a life style, standing in the community, a home, and so forth.
Don't discount the significance of these losses.
A very important way of looking at resistance is that it isn't something to avoid...it's something to recognize, to pay attention to, to take responsibility for, and to talk about with another person. Unfortunately, many people squash their feelings and thoughts, pretending that things are just going along as usual.
It's far more productive to fully admit the importance of the circumstances, to recognize the losses involved. And if you can find someone else to talk with who's already gone through it, you'll find yourself being supported, because that person has been there, knows what it feels like, and has come out the other side.
Taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, and doing the things that honor the underlying emotions that spring from change, will serve you well. The good news is that after a time, your feelings will change and you will begin to move from resistance to the exploration of alternatives. It may be helpful to give you a shot at whatever's going on with you right now. In fact, what's coming up right now may be a reflection of exactly what brought you to the decision to read this article.
On a plain piece of paper jot down these items, then write your answers.
· Item #1: Think about a change (or possible change) in your life. List some of the reasons you feel resistant to this change.
· Item #2: Now list whatever specific ways you can think of to overcome your resistance.
· Item #3: What other thoughts, ideas and feelings are you experiencing right now?
Now, here's what I want you to do with this work. Put aside the paper you've been writing on. Forget it...until tomorrow. Then, look at it again. Ask yourself a couple of questions:
- "Have my reasons changed?"
- "Can I think of any new ways to overcome both old and new feelings?"
Write down your answers, and go do the rest of your day. Do this each day for a week and see what happens!
Copyright 2002, 2005 Optimum Performance Associates/Paul McNeese. Paul McNeese is CEO of Optimum Performance Associates, a consulting firm specializing in transitional and transformational change for individuals and institutions through publication. His publishing company, OPA Publishing, is an advocacy for self-publishing authors of informational, instructional, inspirational and insightful nonfiction. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Websites: http://www.opapublishing.com and http://www.opapresents.com
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