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Health & Wellness; Attitudes of Reaction or Perspectives of Response..... You Choose how to meet Changes in your Life.....
“A process in which the ego opposes the conscious recall of anxiety-producing experiences”.
“The act of accommodating or the state of being accommodated; inclusion,adjustment/ adaptation”.
“To reduce in quality, value, or degree; weaken or lower”.
“A disposition or tendency to yield to the will of others”.
(co-written by Dan Johnson / Michael Vasquez)
When change comes we often do not like it and it may not feel good. We resist change. Our resistance can block change unless we can learn from it. Resistance provides information which can help change move forward in a positive direction. For this to happen you must learn to engage resistance and be energized by it. Resistance is that sense of, "I don’t like it."
Resistance to change is normal and natural and always happens. In the field of electronics the concept of resistance is well understood. A definition from a dictionary would say that, "Resistance is the opposition of a body or substance to current passing through it, resulting in a change of electrical energy into heat or another form of energy." The heat and the energy are desired and useful but can also create problems. Modifying this definition to apply to change and people it would read, "Resistance is the opposition of people to change passing through them, resulting in energy which can transform or stop progress." Resistance brings energy and that energy is valuable because it can be capitalized upon to aid the change process. In order to utilize resistance we must lean to embrace it and not avoid it. We must understand resistance is information.
Resistance is normal and natural. As human beings we are all naturally resistant to change. This is in essence dictated by evolutionary history. Survival of the species depended upon being able to quickly scan any change for potential danger so it could be avoided if possible. As a result we are naturally danger-wary people and when anything new pops into the environment we look to see how it might be a threat. If we perceive a threat then we can avoid (resist) it.
Learning to see the opportunity in a threatening or crisis situation is difficult. You may have learned to be more opportunity oriented but at a fundamental level remain a danger-wary person. This is good and is a part of our common-sensing because when we encounter change we need to always appreciate the possible danger while we still seeking to find the opportunity. Literally, we feel our way through our senses.
In case you doubt that you are naturally resistant, let’s consider how you actually resist yourself. You have most likely worked hard to bring about a change in your life that you immediately resisted. Can you think of such a change? How have you resisted yourself?
Most people say that they never do this but consider, "Have you ever planned a diet or an exercise program?" If so, you may recall that you resisted yourself.
On the first day of your diet what did you do? Either you broke the diet right away or you decided to start "next week." This is resistance to change. In regard to need for exercise you might decide to awaken each morning at 5:30 am and go to run for 30 minutes. What do you think happens the next morning when the alarm starts to sound? That’s right you hit the snooze alarm and go back to sleep.
A key point to recognize about resistance is that it is trying to tell you something. Resistance is information. We must actively seek the message. What do you think that turning off the alarm is trying to tell you? It is not that you should not exercise. Your resistance to getting out of bed so early may be simply saying that this is a bad plan for you. You may not be a morning exercise person. Your resistance is saying to change the plan. Switching to 5:30 p.m. after work may be fine. You are an afternoon exercise person. This is an example of accommodation or finding a workable solution and requires honesty, self-respect and perseverance. Being good to your word starts with keeping promises to ourselves.
It is the same with dieting. Your resistance to dieting does not mean you should not lose weight. It may likely mean that the diet you are trying is not for you or that you are not quite in full agreement with yourself. It may be too stringent or inappropriate in some other way. Be honest and flexible and seek solutions that adapt and show work in progress, even if you have to change the way you do it many times.Change the type of diet and things may go fine. Resistance is information. Learning to listen to the resistance may help you make the changes in life that you need.
If you resist your own planned changes, what do you think happens when someone else comes and gives you a change? Resistance arises and may be more intense. We may often resist because we did not know that change was coming. Often someone has given us the solution to a problem we did not know we had. We are resistant because we do not know why the change is needed or simply are habitually/initially oppositional to change itself. What has occurred is that the change leader is at the implementation stage and we do not even have any idea that, "Something’s Up?" We need to be brought up to speed and we need to have the freedom to ask for necessary information. The leader of the change must be open to such a challenge. Once we understand the reasons for change then we may be more cooperative and supportive.
Resistance may arise even when you understand the reasons for change. What happens is that when the change is presented you immediately see several good reasons why it will not work as planned, this a initial/habit mind-set. The fundamental problem is that you were not included in the planning of the change process and those who did plan it do not see it from your unique perspective. Those who are initiating the change may have created the plan with limited input from those being effected. As a person effected by the change, who is intimately familiar with the daily environment, you spot major obstacles to be overcome. You resist the change because you know that it will not work over the long run. For the change to work you must be able to voice your concerns so that adjustments can be made and the change process improved.
The risk of voicing your concerns will only take place if your "resistance" is valued. Traditionally resistance was seen as negative and resistors were seen as "bad." Resistance was to be squelched so that progress could go on. What happened is that resistance went underground where it grew out of control. We now understand that most resistance is good in that it is trying to tell us something we need to know....it is seeking accommodation. Resistance always brings energy which it may be possible to mobilize to support the change. This will only happen, however, if the leaders of change are able to engage resistance. To engage resistance you must first be able to recognize it and then to acknowledge and engage it and perhaps...make a shift.
As shown we all resist change and we all have our favorite ways of resisting change. Do you know what your favorite techniques of resistance are?
Suppose you are at the dinner table and you spouse or significant other says. "We need to talk." What do you do? Are you pleased and say, "It’s about time. I thought you would never get to it." Most likely anxiety arises as you can feel your stomach knotting up and you begin thinking, "How can I get out of it?" You might try one of several strategies of resistance. You could use avoidance. You start clearing dinner dishes, leave the table, and do not return. Or, diversion might work, so you change the subject. Suspecting that a fight is coming, you could try a counter offensive move and start an argument about a topic on which you are sure you could win. What ever you do in an effort at avoidance will be one of your ways of resisting. You may discover your favorite ways of resistance as you consider this situation.
Resistance usually appears in typical but not well recognized ways. When change is announced you may see signs of anger, irritation, and frustration. People may appear confused and not able to understand what is being asked. Quick criticism ranging from mild to intense will appear. There may be sabotage of the process. People may too easily agree with what they do not fully comprehend. There may be wholesale denial of any change. Malicious compliance may kill the process. Absenteeism may indicate resistance. All of these reactions may signal resistance.
One of the most common types of resistance occurs when a change is announced to a group and there is a call for questions. As the change leader you might ask, "What do you think?" Usually you hear a long, "loud" silence. No one has any thing to say. If you are the naïve change agent then you think to yourself. "This is great. It is going to be easier that I thought." Silence often means strong resistance in a situation where no one feels safe enough to voice it. Unspoken resistance goes underground where it grows and becomes stronger.
How do you respond to resistance?
As the change agent there is a risk that you might collude with resistance by not seeking it out. Besides our typical ways of resisting, we also have typical response to resistance which is often to control it. If your typical reaction is not to seek out resistance and bring it to the light of day then you work against the change which you champion.
One typical controlling response to resistance is to ignore it. For example you might not explore the silence hoping that whatever it represents will go away. Other responses to resistance are:
- Use power: Try to make people go along.
- Use reason: Explain it once again in more detail.
- Manipulate: Play one person against another and maybe it will work.
- Use Relationships: Call in favors that you are owed.
- Make Deals: Compromise (see definition) and dilute the change.
- Give up too soon: Lose motivation and quit.
These typical reactions view resistance as negative and something to be avoided or controlled. To give up such typical reactions you must see resistance in a different light. You must see resistance as bringing needed information and energy. Just as your resistance to personal change (weight loss and exercise) brought information so too does the resistance encountered in families and organizations.
In order to find out what information resistance brings you must be able to move towards and embrace resistance. Knowing that resistance is always present you seek it out. This is done in the context of strong working relationships which can sustain some give-and -take. If such relationship do not exist then they must be built. With strong relationships and a clear focus on the goals of the change and the need for discussion then resistance is embraced by trying to bring it out. In this context it is critical to maintain respect for those who resist. The working assumption is that they know something valuable that you do not. They view the change from a different perspective and see problematic issues. People who resist and are willing to confront you are valuable assets. Their energy alone is valuable. If their objections can be brought into the change while adding to it then their energy adds support to the process.
When there is resistance to change there is division into several camps all asking, "What is in it for me?" Embracing resistance is an attempt to change the question so that all parties are asking. "What is in it for us?" It is this question that will bring people together while mobilizing energy for change. When the reasons for change are broadly understood and the issue can be stated with clarity then the plan for action can be jointly created by all parties and together they can move into the implementation process.
Resistance can impact each of the six steps of the Cycle of Change.
At the step of "Something's up?" you simply do not look ahead or ask any question about what is going on. At step two you refuse to name or even give the slightest acknowledgement to any problem. Don't make any plans for action will stall you at step three as will never acting on plans you did make when you reach step four. You can resist at step five by never making any adjustments to plans that are implemented. At step six complacency will lull you into false security and you will not proactively look ahead to what is coming.
We could benefit from understanding and re-visiting the definitions of resistance, compliance, accommodation and compromise. This helps us be clear and willing to question in the moment, what qualities we want when facing life’s changes/challenges. A more neutral or open perspective helps us shed undermining currents and past “silent agreements” that weaken us. The term ‘moral individualism’ is defined as an attitude or flimsy moral structure that changes with the wind, typically arising when an individual has conflict with change and a limited skill set. Another inner-reaction that is common is “silent agreements”, the predecessor to acting out in passive-aggressive ways. While we may recognize these as “‘common”, changing them is less so....Understanding how important clarity is to Health and Wellness is really a subject that deserves more air time and the core to many imbalances and social dysfunctions. And of course, as you might guess, I reccomend the Internal practices of Tai Chi/Qigong/Yoga and “frontline basics” for unraveling these types of inner confusions...clarity is as natural as our willingness to learn from our experiences. Internal practices are the crux of experiential learning......and the keys to understanding cause & effect.