The unexpected secret to self-sabotage – and how to stop it (Part 4)

Last week, in Part 3, I described in detail how I made emotional experiences from potentially fleeting positive facts and the significant health and emotional benefits that this approach brings.

As obvious as these ideas may sound, there’s a huge obstacle to overcome

Resistance to change!

I bet you’re expecting me to say that you have to wrestle with it, overcome it one way or another!

If that’s what you believe then you’d be wrong.  You can’t wrestle resistance with an act of will.  Besides, resistance is necessary for change to succeed!  Let me explain.

If every time you read one of my suggestions about what you might like to do differently, you thought, “Great! Thank you, Sue! I’ll do it!” – the change wouldn’t be yours, not really.

Resistance makes you argue with me – in your head, of course.

Change is an extremely emotional experience and resistance is like a knee-jerk reaction ranging from, “I don’t think I want to do this” to “not a snowball’s chance in hell I will EVER do this!”

You may be surprised when I tell you how often I’ve gone through the second kind!

According to Dr. John Berardi, a nutrition specialist, there are 4 kinds of resistances with a different approach to dealing with each of them.

Resistance 1 – The Reluctant

If this is you, you might tell yourself, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” or even “from the frying pan into the fire”.

You prefer to stay inside your comfort zone.  It feels familiar.  Besides, even if you did want to change – which you don’t – you wouldn’t know where to start and, anyway, your life is working just fine, thank you very much.

If you recognise this description then remember this:

You are the one in control of fast to change, assuming you want to change at all.  You decide what to change, if anything and, assuming you even did consider changing, you get to explore all the options first, if any.

To start, you might like to ask yourself these 2 questions.

  1. What would I like to be a little better?
  2. If I could wave a magic wand and change ‘this’ situation immediately, what would it look and feel like?

Resistance 2 – The Rebel

This type of resistance is difference from the first one.

You know something isn’t working for you but you’ve invested too much time and effort into this relationship or job and it’s too late now – or is it?

Still, taking smoking as an example, you don’t want to be told what to do – you may be coughing your guts out, you may know the risks of smoking but, by golly, you’re not going to be told to stop.  Besides, your Dad smoked all his life and he lived to be 100.

I wish I could joke about this but this is what happened to a Eamonn, a very dear friend of mine.  He made the choice and made it clear he knew what he was doing – and he was wrong.

I’m a ‘rebel’ too.  I resisted becoming a life coach for over two years however often other coaches and trainers told me I’d be a good coach.  I argued not only with them making it clear why they were wrong; I also argued with myself, coming up with all sorts of reasons why everybody was wrong and I was right.

The idea that I could be a life coach was such a stretch, I couldn’t imagine myself becoming one and the status quo worked well enough, even when deep inside me I knew it didn’t. And the fear of failure was always there, stopping me in my tracks.

If you recognise this one, you can approach it in one of two ways:

  1. Jump right in. I decided to enrol in a coaching programme while keeping my job.
  2. Or start by taking baby steps and repeat the same steps over and over until you feel confident before taking the next baby step.

Baby steps reduce the possibility of failure and, even if you experience setbacks, they will be small enough that can be easily rectified – and learned from.  The one step forward, two steps back experience is an important part of growing and learning.

Ask yourself the following 2 questions:

  1. What is it about your current relationship or situation you don’t really like?
  2. How important is it to you?

Resistance 3 – The Resigned

The key quality this resistance embodies is feeling overwhelmed.

The characteristics are the belief that it’s too late, that it’s too much to handle, that your habit is far too engrained, that you tried all kinds of things before, been on lots of courses, read lots of books but nothing made any difference.

You always start out with such high expectations only to have them dashed.  Now you feel hopeless and believe change is impossible for you.  After all, the proof is there for all to see.

If you recognise yourself in this style of resistance then here’s a thought.

Learning or changing anything is never straight-forward.  You go backwards and forwards then you stop and stay there for what feels like forever.  There’s even a word for it!  Plateau.

Just like resistance is part of the process, so is going backwards, forwards and plateau’ing.

The danger is that you believe you’re doing something wrong, get discouraged or, worse, give up.

At the risk of sounding off the wall, those things are evidence of progress!

Here are some ideas:

  • When you start the process of changing something, keep track of how many times you picked yourself up instead of how many times you fell down, or the fact that you persisted when you could easily have said, “Sod it! This isn’t working!”
  • Stick with it, especially when you feel frustrated or hopeless. It takes time and practice to master a new skill or developing a new habit.
  • Keep practising even when you appear to make no progress.
  • Make friends with feeling uncomfortable – this may take a while.
  • See change as making small progress and all setbacks as temporary.

Resistance 4 – The Rationaliser

This is where the Gremlin or your negative inner chatterbox comes in.

In this situation, when you’re trying to make improvements to the quality of your life, the Gremlin is always ready to pounce.

It tells why staying as you are is better for you.  After all, better the devil you know blablabla.  Besides, yours is a unique situation so trying to change it is definitely not a good idea.  Just think of the risk!  (You might be happier!  Don’t do it!!!)

Not sure if you’re a rationaliser?  Here are a couple of clues:

Do you catch yourself saying, “Yes, but…” or, “I know!  I know, but…”

If you recognise yourself, here are 2 ideas.

  1. List all the reasons you can think of for staying as you are.
  2. Write down what is helpful and useful.

I’m not being perverse; there’s always a reason behind everything we do.

Review your current behaviours and ask yourself these 2 questions:

  1. What would happen if I changed nothing and stayed as I am?
  2. Could I take something that is already working and make it even better?

Remember, whichever type of resistance you fall into, taking baby steps will maximise your chances of succeeding in your efforts.

With love and gratitude,



P.S.  If you believe I can support you, please contact me on or text me on my mobile – 07903 795027 for a free, no obligation Obstacle Smashing Exploratory Session.

You will walk away with at least 3 options to get you started on a happier path – whether or not you choose to work with me.

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