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Creating Positive Change is Hard. Here’s How to Make it Easier

Today’s post is a guest blog by Trishna Patnaik, a self-taught artist, art therapist, and healer. She writes about how changing our lives for the better isn’t easy, but that there are many strategies for overcoming the obstacles in our way. At Play for Peace, we use cooperative play to create peaceful change in communities around the world—encouraging compassion, connection, and community across even the deepest divides. However, fostering this change isn’t always easy—it takes time, patience, and the belief that change is possible. Below, Trishna offers ways to overcome the resistance to change, so we can create the best versions of ourselves—and for Play for Peace, more compassionate and peaceful communities.

“Change is never painful, only the resistance to change is painful.” —Gautam Buddha

As you navigate the journey to change your life, you have probably noticed that things are not always easy. It can feel as though you are fighting yourself every step of the way. This can cause your transformation to feel draining and impossible to accomplish, which ultimately creates resistance to change. If you have felt this way and are ready to change your life for the better, you are going to need to overcome your resistance to change. 

Here are a few ways to bolster yourself against the inevitable backlash leading toward the resistance to your change:

1. Be very clear on your own values and motivations for this change.

If you feel confident about it, you’ll be less susceptible to others’ opinions.

2. Prepare a comeback

It could be matter of fact, humorous, or whatever fits best for you. Anticipate the common reaction (i.e.: “In this economy, you’re lucky to have a job!”), and prepare a response that will shut the conversation down and make it clear you’re not open to negotiating your intention (“I know! I am so lucky to have a job. How’s your job going?”).

3. Seek out supporters.

Find people, websites, groups, and resources that say you can make the change you intend. Read success stories, solicit pep talks, share your short-term goals—create a change-based community of like-minded people.

4. Filter your updates.

You know that old saying, “You can’t get bread at the hardware store?” Some people may never support your progress. Consider saving your progress updates for people who are more supportive. If you give detractors less opportunity to offer their feedback, it’s less you’ll have to contend with.

5. Be a resource.

When people begin to notice that extra pep in your step, they’ll want a little of this “change” thing for themselves! If you sense someone is flirting with their own change, offer your story and share what has worked for you. Don’t push, and do accept their resistance. Change is a slow process, but if someone is ready to take the first step, you could very well serve as their catalyst.

6. Adopt a learning mindset. 

Everything changes. That's one of the few truths we can count on to stay true. Resisting change is resisting reality. Instead of working so hard to keep things the same, how can you befriend this fact of life? When a surfer gets tense riding a wave, they fall. When a leader gets tense adapting to change, they fail. Declare your vision. Adopt a learning mindset in every situation. Adapt. Enjoy.  

6. Push through it.

There may be times when it feels impossible. When so many forces are stacked up against you, and you can’t possibly forge a new path in life. This is exactly when you keep going. This is the stress point beyond which true lasting change occurs. Do reconsider your goals and make sure they’re still in line with your core beliefs. And if so, keep going.

8. Consult a mentor or coach. 

It seems nobody likes change. As creatures of habit, we run from change and often don't embrace its reality. A coach offers outside intervention to ensure accountability and provides the reality check you need to embrace reality with productive action and behaviors. Hanging onto the past and denying change doesn't stop it. Top leaders hire mentors and coaches. So, must you!  

9. Find the strength within your resistance. 

Some people naturally meet change with resistance, and that's okay. Some people have innate strengths to stabilize, reduce risks, and protect what is working, and others have instincts to drive change, experiment, and explore options. If you are resisting change because you are risk averse, you might start by assessing risk, researching, or planning. Then, enlist help to drive the change.  

10. Ask yourself what you're resisting. 

Resistance is a normal reaction, so acknowledge that it's ok. Then, begin to overcome it by exploring, "What am I resisting?". Be specific and honest with yourself. Often, what we resist is categorized into what we can and cannot control. Focus on what you can control—including your gradual acceptance of the change and finding others who can help—and try to let go of what you can't control.  

11. Realize you don't fear change, you fear loss. 

Change is a situational event, like losing one's job or gaining a new boss. Resistance occurs during the transition, a psychological process of acknowledging what is ending, navigating the uncertainty, then embracing what is possible in the new beginning. Strengthening support networks, anchoring one's purpose, increasing self-compassion, and actualizing strengths can all minimize resistance.  

12. Consider the upsides of change. 

Resistance stems from fear, and for many, fear is caused by change. For some, it may be fear of the unknown or repeating a negative experience. We use resistance as a way to protect ourselves, but it limits us and our experiences. Instead of looking at the limitations and risks that come with change, try looking at change as the very thing that opens the door to your next opportunity.

13. Choose to believe change serves you. 

All beliefs are choices and thoughts we have created. For example, if you think change is scary or difficult, it will be. Start choosing to believe change is something that serves you. For example, you can choose to believe that "change is easy," "change is fun" or "change brings me amazing opportunities." When you choose your perspective, you can easily rewire your internal system around change.  

14. Accept your resistance to change. 

It's normal human behavior to resist change. First, we need to accept and appreciate that fact. This will help us to be open to working on the thoughts and beliefs that we have about change. These limiting beliefs must be changed in order to rewire ourselves to stop meeting change with resistance. Your emotions can help you identify what thoughts you have, and then address the resistance you feel.

Dealing with resistance to change starts in the mind. If you want to change your life for the better, you must believe it is possible and in your best interest to do so. Otherwise, you will find yourself giving in to your resistant mind’s call to maintain the status quo.

About the Author

Trishna Patnaik, a B.Sc. (in life sciences) and M.B.A. (in marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice, is a self-taught artist based in Mumbai who has been practising art for over 14 years. After a professional stint in the corporate world, she realized that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion for painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, "It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to every day." Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai and other metropolitan cities of India.

Trishna is  also an art therapist and healer. She works with clients on a one on one basis in Mumbai.

She fancies the art of creative writing and is dabbling in that as well, to soak in the experience and engage with readers, wanderers, and thinkers.