Have you experienced waking up one day, and then decided to start a habit that is something good for you?
At first, it was easy but later on, the motivation fades away. And then, you get back to your bad habits. The frustrating thing is that the habit seems doable but your body and mind are resisting it.
It can be very disappointing to try to improve oneself over and over again, and then nothing happens. Even though you think you’re doing your best, you just keep on coming back to your old ways.
It seems like an unending cycle of planning, getting motivated, and then pushing yourself hard, stopping, and lastly getting mad at yourself.
Now, stop getting angry at yourself. Just so you know, you’re not alone and you’re not the only one who experiences this.
This getting unmotivated and lazy on starting to better ourselves is normal. It is a normal response of our brain to changes, and this is called mental resistance.
What Is Mental Resistance.
Mental resistance is like this wall between you and the person you want to be. And this wall can be invisible if we are not mindful. When this happens, we will keep bumping on this internal wall, desperately trying to reach the other side.
To illustrate, imagine that you see something you really want. You’ve been wanting this since forever. You hurriedly run into it and then you bump on something you can’t see. It knocks you back, and makes you fall on your butt.
If you are impatient and well, stupid, you’ll keep on pushing yourself through it, even if it hurts you. Because you really want this thing, which is metaphorically the vision you have of yourself.
Not only does psychological or mental resistance stop us from improving ourselves, it can also cause us to go against our best interests. In result, we self-sabotage by lingering to negative thoughts, not committing to self-improvement, and narrowing our perceptions of ourselves.
The Faces of Mental Resistance.
Many of us don’t know that there is a resistance because it is in our subconscious. However, although this barrier to the better us may be invisible, it can manifest through our emotional and mental state.
There are different ways we can see this resistance such as:
1. Fear – Fear is the number one resistant. This change makes us anxious about something we don’t know yet. This might be the fear of not succeeding? To be laughed at or to be criticized? Or maybe we are scared to know more about ourselves? It is really scary for us but for the outsider’s perception, this fear is irrational.
2. Procrastination – Even though we really want to be better, we still keep on postponing our improvement. There will always be some reason why we can’t do it yet. Do we postpone it because we are not ready to commit yet?
3. Distraction – Do you notice that when you have to do something important, you easily get distracted by little things? Like a messy room, unorganized desktop, etc? This is because we subconsciously focus on minor details that can hinder us to see the bigger picture.
4. Defensiveness – Every time we make a mistake, we blame it on someone or something else. It is never our fault. Is this because we are afraid to be accountable? Is this our way of escaping from our responsibilities?
5. Paralysis-by-analysis – Or for short, overthinking. This happens when we overthink what we should do. What if something bad happens? What if like this like that? Etc. And this can paralyze us. There are so many things we need to think first because we want it to be perfect. Do we really just think of all the bases or are we just afraid to start?
6. Quit – Starting something new is hard, and taking that first step is the hardest. And sometimes, it is so hard that instead of pushing through it, we just quit. Is it really hard or is it that chose the flight response?
Whenever we introduce change, either bad or good, to our brain, it triggers our fight or flight response. And this makes us feel different psychological discomforts. This makes us use different coping mechanisms to avoid these discomforts which can be bad for us.
How to Overcome Mental Resistance.
Mental resistance is normal but it doesn’t mean we will just accept it and not do anything about it. It is part of the defense system of our brain but once it knows that it is for the better, it will accept the change. With proper strategies, we can overcome ourselves and our mental resistance.
1. Identify the resistance and acknowledge it.
To solve any problems, the first step always is to acknowledge that there is something wrong and to identify what it is. By knowing what the problem is, we can then make plans on how to overcome this.
In order to identify the mental resistance, be aware of yourself. When you are starting something, what do you usually do?
Do you keep on planning but never pursue it?
Or do you catch yourself doing something else?
Do you also notice that you’re tired easily?
After answering this, write your answers down. Keep a list, and acknowledge that these are mental resistance. So, the next time you notice yourself doing what’s on your list, remind yourself that these are just the mental resistance.
We can’t get rid of these obstacles but we can avoid getting stuck on them.
2. Set a goal and focus on this.
Having a goal is important to keep us on track. When we are changing, our goal should be to move forward. And moving forward does not necessarily mean moving straight. There will be lefts and rights, and this is definitely okay. The important thing is we reach our destination.
Whenever we get sidetracked or lost, let’s remember our goal.
Why are we changing a habit? To reach our goal.
Why are we making an effort to improve ourselves? To reach our goal.
With this in mind, we can push ourselves to get over the mental resistance. We just need to focus on our whys to lessen getting lost and sidetracked.
3. Plan and Prepare
Now that we know our resistance and goal, it is time to make a plan. Stretch and crack those bones because fighting your mind can be so challenging.
To reach your goals, you need a plan on how to do this. What are the steps you’ll take to reach it? What things will you need? When and where will you work on this? And once you have a plan, as much as possible stick to it but don’t forget to be flexible when needed.
Aside from planning on how to reach your goal, you also need to prepare for the obstacles. And one of the most challenging obstacles will be fighting your mental resistance. Because this is your brain, it can be easy to be defeated by it.
If you know your mental resistance, you should also know how to avoid it or how to get out of it. But, as we know, it is easier to prevent getting sucked by it so let’s avoid it as much as possible.
For example, whenever I start getting productive, my thoughts go somewhere else. This means I am easily distracted by my own thoughts. I would plan things to do for later, or daydream. So, what I do is have a paper and pen ready. Then, whenever I think of something else, I write them down and then get myself to work. Later when I am done, I can look at the things I wrote.
4. Take one step at a time.
No matter how motivated and determined we are, we will not develop a habit in an instance. We will just disappoint ourselves if we think that we can improve ourselves immediately. And we might end up worse than before we started.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. It is a continuous process.
Rushing is never a good idea in growth. It can just mentally and physically exhaust us. When we are rushing, there will be many things that we’ll miss and we won’t be able to enjoy the process. Sometimes, rushing can hurt us.
So, let’s take small steps until we learn how to run.
The good thing about our brain is that we can train it. It just needs to get used to the idea of change first, and then that change will be the new normal.
Now go, and conquer your mental resistance.
Mental resistance can be so annoying. I mean, we’re doing these changes to improve ourselves. Why does it make us ruin ourselves more? (Half joking!)
Just remember that this resistance is normal and is a defense of our brain. But, we can train it to accept the change we are doing. We just have to acknowledge that there is a mental resistance, learn how to deal with this, and take baby steps. We shouldn’t also stress ourselves with these resistance. Instead, let’s focus on our goal to be better.
Changing for the better can be so challenging. But with good strategy, we can conquer mental resistance and be the better version of ourselves! So, just start and who knows, you might fall in love with the journey.
Share your mental resistance in the comments below. And if you find the tips helpful, you may also share it to your social media accounts to help someone else.
Always rooting for you,
Meredith Blaise ♡