Jan 232016


Whether it’s friends and family or the bully that lives in your brain, not everyone supports your desire to change.  Sometimes people get comfortable with us and our bad habits or predictable roles… sometimes the whole challenge of change takes place inside of our heads.

Remember, habits are “stored” in the bigger, less conscious part of our brains. And that part is much bigger and stronger than the part that houses goals, ideas and intentions.

[Tweet “The bully in your brain doesn’t want you to change.”]

Your stated intention to change is often met with fear.  A pushback of sorts. Sometimes that fear takes the form of procrastination. Other times our brains serve up all kinds of seemingly reasonable excuses.

My favorite personal example? Starting an exercise program to recover from a back injury. When I first started, I had more excuses than a kid who hadn’t done her homework. And, although it showed up in a variety of different words, the one at the top of this list was simple: I didn’t want to do anything that would cause more pain. (Makes sense, right? Kind of like any personal challenge. We don’t want to fail again, to make things worse.)

The good news? There are clues in the resistance.

[Tweet “There are clues in the resistance.”]

Once I recognized and acknowledged my fear, it became easier to move forward. Instead of “using the treadmill hurts too much”  I took a deep breath and asked, “is there any kind of movement that won’t be painful?” I started by walking back and forth in waist-deep water and eventually progressed to swimming laps. It took some time but taking a baby step was enough to start a positive spiral. It was enough to begin to develop the habit that eventually led to swimming a 1/2 mile every day.)

If you’re struggling with reaching one of your goals it might be time to ask: do you want it enough to push back against the pushback?


Got a goal? And some fear?

The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head by Andrea Patten is now available on Amazon.



  24 Responses to “Challenge of Change”

  1. I too have always been a believer in there is a solution. And yet, there are times I don’t see my own resistance. We are such complicated humans, but it makes us & life interesting. Enjoyed the post. Thought provoking and good tips.

  2. “There are clues in the resistance” I love this observation, Andrea. I used to push pretty hard against resistance and turn any attempts at change into a battleground. Over the last few years I’ve softened my approach and have become more willing to sit with my resistance, to hear what it might have to teach me. That seems a much gentler and hopeful way of moving forward. Really enjoyed your story of creating a positive habit of swimming regularly. What a beautiful process.

    • Fighting any part of ourselves really doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it. And I agree… once we’ve learned what our resistance is trying to teach us it becomes much more willing to yield. Apparently it’s really committed to doing its’ job! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. The Nike slogan “Just Do It!” comes to mind for me here. Instead of letting our brains convince us we can’t, or we don’t know how, or it’s to difficult, we just need to do it. Trying is half the battle. I keep telling myself that as I am learning all sorts of new things outside of my comfort zone! Thanks for encouraging me!

    • I like to think of the fear as more of a checklist than a stopper these days. Have I taken care of the things I have control of? Then maybe I’m ready to act.

  4. While reading this I couldn’t help but think of Steven Pressfield’s brilliant book, “The War of Art”. “Resistance” plays a prominent role throughout. Often we have unconscious resistance to change, and being a fixed air sign, I know all about resistance to change. Unless of course I am the initiator of it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your own experiences with resistance and change, Andrea! Onward…

  5. We are creatures of habit! Thankfully there are strategies to create new ones as we let go of old ones! Thank you for this important reminder!

  6. Love that you asked yourself a different question: “is there any kind of movement that wouldn’t be painful?” A creative way to overcome the protests of those strong habits.

  7. You’ve nailed it, Andrea! If I’m working on changing a habit and start to fall off the wagon, its time to sit down and have a self talk and ask, what am I really afraid of or why am I doing things that will make sure I don’t succeed. Understanding what’s making me hold back takes the sting out of the resistance and then I work out a way to get to my goal which the subconscious mind won’t block.

    PS. I love the phrase ‘the bully that lives in your brain’.

    • Thanks, Vatsala. Those “fear sensors” live in us for a reason… they’re part of our survival mechanisms… but there are many times we can reassure them about our plans not being life-threatening. I appreciate your kind words.

  8. I like the idea of looking for solution a lot – rather than getting stuck on the pain or what we don’t want to do. I also really appreciate replacing the idea of being afraid with the idea of being excited. These are really helpful tips in moving forward in the face of whatever resistance may come up. Thanks, Andrea! xo, Reba

    • I’m either blessed or cursed with the core belief that there’s always a solution. May not be ideal… but forward motion is forward motion. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  9. I love your suggestion of finding something you can do and focusing on that instead of giving into your excuses. Hope your back injury is fully recovered now.

  10. Andrea love this and I really get that bully, I have had it visit this week and yes I found the clues in the resitance xxoo

  11. Thank you so much for this. Really good Tweetables. “Bully in your Brain” is brilliant.

  12. There are clues in the resistance. YES. I realized with me its F.E.A.R. False. Evidence. Appearing. Real. That bully really tries to fool me!! But NO MORE!!! Thank you for this GREAT blog post Andrea. Lovingly shared :-))))

    • Thanks, Nadia. Recently found one I like even better — FEAR = feeling excited and ready!

      • I like how Joe Vitale says in the documentary film ‘The Secret’ ….paraphrasing here : ‘The things that call you will excite you a lot and scare you a little.’ 🙂

        • Exactly. I read a post earlier this week about how “excitement” and “fear” feel so much alike. It’s one of the places the power of choosing our response can come in VERY handy. Thanks for commenting, Nadia. I appreciate you.

  13. Love the idea of casting out the bully in the brain! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Such a timely post Andrea! Thanks for sharing your experience and lessons re change.

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