7 signs of Resistance and how to let go

7 signs of resistance, each with tips how to deal with it.

Have you already noticed how many people walk this earth with a lot of resistance to all sorts of things?

Of course you have, it’s in our nature. And it is also the cause of many frustrations.

How often have I heard clients tell me: “You really changed your life, didn’t you? You seem so at peace, but I could never do what you have done!” or “This is just not possible for me!”, “I don’t have your luck” or even “I have no other choice in life, there’s no escape”

One of the main presuppositions of NLP is: “If I can do it, so can anybody else.” and “If somebody else can do it, I can do it too.”

And I believe this is true! Have you ever heard of Nick Vujicic? If not, look him up on YouTube. He achieved everything he wanted to achieve, and he has NO LIMBS! That’s right, he was born without arms and legs! And yet, he is enjoying life, travelling, inspiring other people, he’s doing the best he can to have an exceptional life.

So next time I hear people moaning about their “terrible” problems, maybe I’ll go like: “hey, what are you complaining about? You’ve still got 2 arms and legs, don’t you?” Of course, I don’t reply that. I’m a professional coach, so I do my best not to judge. I don’t project my own perceptions and filters. And I support my clients with lots of compassion, love and understanding. But I can sometimes also be confronting, when I sense there’s a need for a wake-up call. And I can sometimes ask some questions in a particular kind of (cynical) way to make the person realise that they’re making a lot of fuss about something in their mind, but the reality is very different.

So many people blame their unfulfilling life to external events, such as a lack of money, a problem-marriage, other’s expectations, a bad job, a harassing manager, etc. It is the easiest thing to do, but we all have a choice, ALWAYS! And you can ALWAYS choose to change your situation, or to change the way you look at the situation! We can all take responsibility for who we are and how we live.

Still, resistance is one of the ‘feelings’ that I notice most frequently and this is why I want to elaborate on this subject. I’ll end with some tips and some links to very inspiring videos.

  1. The first sign of resistance is: “Yes, but…”Recognisable? It’s a favourite of mine. Oh yes, I have a lot of resistance in me as well! Nobody’s perfect 😉

    Someone gives you a nice piece of advice and your instant reaction is “ok, but…” or “That sounds great, but… ”

    Try practicing leaving the “but” aside now and then. Instead of but, you could also say “I’m glad you see it that way.” If, on the other hand, your answer is actually NO, then answer NO instead of Yes BUT! For example:

    A: “Last time you really helped me out on that project! What would I do without you! I’m counting on you for this project as well, it will be perfect with your help”

    B: “Ok, but I have a lot going on right now, so I’m not sure I’ll have as much time as last time to help you…”

    A: “I’m sure you’ll find time, you’re always so organised and efficient”

    B: “Yes, but I actually already have other urgent matters planned for the following two weeks and I ….”

    Sound familiar?

    Whereas you could easily change the scenario into this:

    A: “Last time you really helped me out on that project! What would I do without you! I’m counting on you for this project as well, it will be perfect with your help”

    B: “You’re on your own for this one. I’m working on my own project. It’ll do you good to experiment this without my help. I’m not helping you out this time.” (said kindly and with a smile, of course!)

    Scary? In the beginning it is scary! But this is an assertive reply and assertiveness is something you practice. It is like a muscle: in the beginning it’s weak, but the more you practice, the stronger it gets! And remember that if you said yes too quickly, it can always be corrected into a no with a respectful apology.

  2. The second sign: someone says A, you say B. 
    • A common one in couple life or family life: you want something one way, and your partner sees it another way. You have a plan in mind on how to raise the children, your partner sees it in an entirely different (contradicting!) way. Your parents want you to make decision A, so you decide to do B (even if it’s just to upset them).
    • Someone forbids you to do something, so you’ll do it anyway, just to find out what’s so “forbidden” about it.
    • A kind person on the streets gives you a tip on where to find the best “…” in town, and you decide not to trust that “weirdo”, so you end up somewhere else and it was a terrible experience. Ha!
    • Why do we do this? Why do we unnecessarily torture ourselves with this resistance? I’ll always remember Stephen Covey’s quote: “if two people have the same opinion, one is unnecessary”.
    • So instead of resisting the other option, try to create synergy. Find a win-win, a compromise that makes both parties happy. This way the resistance dissolves and makes room for co-creation. So instead of resisting “A” and trying to convince of “B”, try this: “Good, you see it differently! Help me understand your point of view, and then I’ll help you understand mine.”
  3. Your gut tells you to go one way, and yet you decide to doubt and go the other way
    • If you’re experiencing these kind of situations, where our gut tells you to do one thing and you start rationalising and go for the other option, then it means your EGO is in control.
    • Your EGO wants what’s best for you, but your EGO only exists in the past or in the future! And it bases its judgement on past experiences. So if you ever got scared doing something new, it will always be triggered by this fear and prevent you from doing it, because you might get hurt, like in the past. So, in fact, your EGO is trying to protect you of what could happen, but it is rooted in fear! Therefore, it is not stimulating! Rather more often, it is sabotaging you.
    • The EGO cannot exist in the present moment, so if you want to know what you gut (instinct or intuition) is telling you, take a deep breath and only focus on your breath. Come to the present moment. Be here and now and let the answers come to you without any resistance or rational thoughts.
    • Visualise what your heart is telling you.
    • Calm your EGO, talk to it, reassure it! You could say to that little voice in your head: “Thanks for being there for me, but I’ve got this one! You can let me make my own new experiences”
  4. You want to be under control and when you feel like you’re out of control, you’ll do anything to get back the feeling of control
    • Control is also the EGO talking or being in command. Most people are being controlled and manipulated by their own ego. It can be a very convincing part of you! Yet, since it’s operating out of “fear”, it is most often making the wrong decisions!
    • Let go of your expectations! That is a powerful tip! Give without expecting anything in return. Act without a specific outcome expectation. A good example here, would be when you have children (or pets -> it works with them too!): imagine you would like your kids to help out more in the daily household… When you expect them to listen to you instantly and to obey like robots, for sure that they’ll do just the opposite. When you are resisting the now, you are getting mad, forcing them to behave. You are actually putting a lot of effort and energy into getting the outcome you had in mind. You are exhausting yourself trying to control their behaviour or changing them.
    • Whereas, if you would just let go of all expectations, it would be less tiring and more grateful. Expect nothing, yet ask what you want. Explain why you want it and then continue doing what you were doing without checking upon them, or controlling them. They’ll often help you out with pleasure and without any resistance. Because the second you create a resistance, children pick it up (adults and pets too!) and join you in the resistance emotion. So by resisting and controlling, you actually create more resistance!
    • Be thankful for the experience! Even for bad experiences, because you learn so much from them! They help you grow, become stronger and a better version of yourself. Being thankful (and expressing it) is so liberating! It gives you a really good and happy feeling and it builds up your self-esteem and trust of life.
  5. Something doesn’t work out for you, yet you continue and you keep trying even though it’s not for you
    • Let me quote Deepak Chopra here (great author and speaker, very wise man!): Choose the path of least resistance (in his books series: the 7 Spiritual laws of Success)
    • If you keep bumping into obstacles… if what you’re doing doesn’t bring you satisfaction and you have one bad experience after the other… LET IT GO. Choose the path of least resistance and find something else that DOES work for you.
    • In spiritual laws it is said that when you are on the right path of life, all flows freely to you. If you feel like it’s the opposite, then it’s probably not the right path for you! And something much better is awaiting you
  6. You have this irritating idea/song/situation in your head and you get really annoyed by it. You try everything to get rid of it.
    • Instead of getting all annoyed or irritated, try to laugh about it.
    • Most importantly ACCEPT it. You can only let go and release the resistance when you first learn to just accept that it’s there!
    • An interesting exercise to do, is observing yourself from the outside. As if you were another person observing you. Observing yourself from a distance helps to relativise or seeing it from different angles.
    • Or when something keeps popping inside your mind, then practice mindfulness. Come back to the present moment and just focus on your breath and on the sounds around you. Then focus on the silence between the sounds!
    • Another trick when practicing mindfulness, is to challenge your mind and ask yourself: “Hmm, I’m curious to find out what my next thought will be…” This creates a sort of blank in your mind, as if it goes like: “Oh oh, she’s expecting another thought! Quick! Send another thought! Oh no, black out! I can’t work under pressure!! aaaah!” And then I go: “Ha ha ha, this is nice!”
  7. A great opportunity is presented to you, but you are afraid it’s too good to be true, so you try to resist it. 
    • Probably because there’s an underlying cause: you feel you’re not worth it (often unconsciuosly), there must be a catch, too good to be true, etc.
    • When great opportunities present themselves to you, don’t resist! Be curious about it. Look into it. Check in with your feelings! How does this make you feel? Does it give you butterflies in your stomach? Then go for it! See what this opportunity will bring. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as planned, that’s OK! It gave you another experience in life, it made you grow!
    • Never be afraid of great opportunities, they come your way for a good reason! The universe is always providing us with what we exactly need (even if something it’s awful to us, it’s happening for a reason). I don’t believe in coincidences. Things come your way because you (often unconsciously) asked for it, because you deserve it or because you still have some lessons to learn. And whatever the outcome, it will probably bring you a bit closer to your life’s purpose.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and that you’ll find them useful. I would like to end with these two inspirational videos, one about FEAR from Will Smith (really, let go of the fear, it is not REAL, it is just very annoying!) and another about control.




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