4 Reasons You Could Be Resisting Change

Written by on March 7, 2016 in Adaptability with 48 Comments

Why Youre Not Ready to ChangeHow big is the gap between the person you show to the world and the one you’d like to be? Do you ever wish you could change your personality, even a minor tweak here and there, to feel better about yourself?

We each have many different personality traits, for example capable, calm, decisive, compassionate, proud, quiet, etc. You might secretly wish you could be more confident about who you are and what you’re capable of achieving, or you harbor a desire to be more optimistic and outgoing. Maybe you just wish you could muster the courage to set some boundaries and ask for a little “me” time, and learn to say no without feeling wracked with guilt

Fortunately, research has shown that, with time and effort, it is possible to change elements of one’s personality, so why not choose to make those longings a reality? After all, if you can make the changes that will help you become the best possible version of yourself then you’re naturally going to live a happier, healthier life … right?

Makes sense, and sounds good, so then why don’t more people DO it? Well for one thing by the time we become aware of what we want to change we’re usually up to our eyeballs in l-i-f-e and it can be tough to set aside the time to focus on ourselves.

When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them. ~Andy Warhol

But let’s be honest, a “busy life” is more of a symptom than a cause. There will always be things in our life that we have no control over, but when someone is ready to change, nothing will stop them. So the real issue is what prevents us from taking action and making the change we long for a reality?

Why We Resist Change

We Don’t Really Want to Change

Sometimes we believe we need to change in order to fit in better, or at the very least not stand out. It could be a self-worth issue, or maybe you’ve been criticized or ridiculed in some way, and while you don’t really want to change, and may even fear the whole notion of change, you’ve convinced yourself that it’s the only way to find acceptance, or at the very least some peace of mind.

What to do about it: It’s normal to want to fit in, but not at the cost of being true to yourself. You have nothing to prove to anyone. There is a huge difference between undertaking a personal growth effort to achieve your full potential and attempting to change in an effort to “fix” yourself in the hope of receiving validation from others.

You are the only one who can decide if you truly want to change and the best way to do that is to put yourself on a “time out” and pinpoint exactly what it is you want to change and why … and believe me, the why is far more important than the what. You may discover that what you really need to work on is learning to appreciate yourself just the way you are.

Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be. ~Heath L. Buckmaster
We Don’t Believe It’s Possible to Change

Whether we realize it or not, our personalities continue to evolve through the years. A simple way to test this for yourself is to think back to some of the decisions you made when you were younger, like pursuing that guy or gal you thought you couldn’t live without, or the tattoo that seemed like such a great idea at the time and now you’re looking at it wondering what you could possibly have been thinking at the time.

When I first moved away from home and threw myself into college life I was so determined to leave my old unhappy life behind that I cut my long red hair short and dyed it black and tried to cover my freckles with heavy make-up. Oh yeah, great move on my part. I can laugh about it now, but you can be assured all photographic proof of that period in my life has been destroyed!

So the challenge isn’t whether or not you’re capable of change, it’s choosing to take responsibility for directing the course of your change.

What to do about it: Change may be difficult, but it’s not impossible – unless you believe it is. It requires careful planning, strategies to help you take focused action, and sometimes knowledge which you may have to obtain. But neither your upbringing nor personal history determines your behavior – unless you let them.

What I’d really like you to do is consider how you define “change” and I’ll give you a great example of what I mean. Several years ago I was working at a local resort and my secretary at the time was intelligent, confident and outgoing within our office, but once she walked out the door she barely said a word and seemed to fade into the background. She came to me one day and told me she’d been approached to serve on the employee council, and she really wanted to but was afraid she’d end up making a fool of herself. I won’t go into great detail, but I worked with her and in time she began to slowly emerge from her shell. Long story short, a year later she was president of the employee council.

Those who didn’t really know her well thought she’d changed pretty dramatically, but we knew that she’d simply learned how to bring out existing attributes. My point is that personal growth is seldom about creating a new version of who you are, more often than not it’s just enhancing existing qualities.

We Aren’t Committed to Change

There is a pretty wide gap between committing to something and actually being committed. It’s surprisingly easy to make a commitment, just ask anyone who has ever made a New Year’s Resolution. Being committed to actually seeing that promise through however is another thing entirely, because whether you’re striving to achieve a big goal, or working to change yourself in some way for the better, it will almost always be harder and take longer than you expect it will.

What to do about it: Regardless of what you desire to achieve in your life; there are three key elements that must be present in order for you to be truly committed – purpose, determination and the willingness to sacrifice.

Begin by taking a brutally honest look at how you’ve handled change in the past. Do you stick with a goal through to completion, or are you quick to give up and move on to something else? This isn’t about dredging up guilty feelings or beating yourself up; these are behaviors you need to be aware of if you are serious about your efforts to grow. If you find that you’ve struggled with such things as willpower and self-discipline in the past, investing the time to strengthening these skills will pay off in a big way in the future.

We Can’t Imagine Ourself Any Different

Who do you think you are? You are whoever you perceive yourself to be. If you long to become a more confident person, but you honestly can’t see yourself in any way other than the shy unassuming person you believe yourself to be, then you’re unlikely to test yourself, and even if you do, you’ll be facing a pretty gritty uphill battle to manage any sort of meaningful change.

What to do about it: Ironically the best thing you can do is learn to accept yourself just as you are. Many people approach self-improvement from the perspective that to accept themselves as they are is a form of resignation that defeats their intention to grow. They believe they must actually achieve change before they are worthy of acceptance, but the reality is that when you accept who and what you are now you free yourself to grow and create meaningful change to your life in an authentic way.

If you’re looking for that one person who can change your life for the better … look in the mirror. ~Author Unknown

It’s up to you. You can tell yourself that change is too hard or listen to those who will say it’s not even possible and settle for whatever the winds of fate send your way. Or you can choose to open your mind to all of the possibilities in life and purposefully strive to achieve your full potential. Of course, this is a lifestyle choice that requires courage and much more work, and you are the only one who can answer if it will be worth the effort in order to create the life you really want for yourself.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.


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  1. Steve DiGioia

    I believe it all comes down to the lack of confidence in today’s society. I doubt our forefathers were afraid of change. If so, would we even be here?
    Steve DiGioia recently posted…Here’s How to Stop Getting Calls At Home On Your Day OffMy Profile

  2. Diane Topkis says:

    “It’s choosing to take responsibility for directing the course of your change.” That comment says it all to me. There are so many who complain, whine and blame others – all coming from a victim attitude. They may be the ones who need to change most but never will because they won’t take on the responsibility.

    • Yep, the issue of responsibility is at the root of all our efforts to grow and there’s no question it’s a tough one at times because it’s just so much easier to point the finger and someone or something else. Thanks for contributing to the conversation Diane!

  3. The first reason “We don’t really want to change” speaks volumes. I know so make people who say they want things to be different, but they never do anything different to make it happen.
    Jason Butler recently posted…What I’ve Learned in 3 Years of BloggingMy Profile

  4. Erica says:

    This is a really accurate post about change. I run into this quite a bit in helping people live healthier lifestyles. They come to me telling me they need to make a change. But the problem is that they may not WANT to make a change. And as we try to jump into things, they often become resistant. I think a lot of us sabotage our own efforts for change without fulling realizing what we’re doing.
    Erica recently posted…Your Crash Diet May Lead To Weight Gain! Do This Instead!My Profile

    • I can well imagine Erica! Having spent over a decade as a coach I’ve been there myself; but fortunately there are also those who really want to do the work and they keep you going. Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation.

  5. Kristina Rylova

    Good job. Very inspiring article. Indeed, changing is not easy and it is a hard work, but since you start, every further step becomes much easier

  6. Suzie Cheel

    Love this Marty and If you’re looking for that one person who can change your life for the better … look in the mirror. ~Author Unknown
    So true, yes we have to want to change and then take the action that will allow is to make the shifts to who we want to be , Thank you a brilliant post xxoo
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…The Challenge of Achieving Simplicity: Part TwoMy Profile

  7. Nice post, Jeanette … great approach to your post to share the “what to do about it” section. Thanx for your perspective!

  8. Could it be that some of us may be resisting change because of the fear of the unknown..
    The security blanket of “sameness” is safely for so many.
    Betty Eitner recently posted…March is Women’s History Month – Part 5 – Women in MEDICINEMy Profile

  9. Sue Kearney

    That’s an important distinction you made and until you acknowledge the difference between “making a commitment” and “being committed” — well, as they say in some 12step rooms, “nothing changes if nothing changes.”

    Could be why my reset cleanse that I’ve been saying I’ll do since the holiday season started four days ago. And part of why it took me so long to get going on the Magnolias West rebrand. I’m slow. And lazy. 🙂

    Luckily, though, I have great support and I’m in the cleanse and in the rebrand and mostly enjoying all of it. Change is embraced, yo.
    Sue Kearney recently posted…Anatomy of a rebrand — part 1My Profile

  10. William Rusho

    This is a great post, compare to the list you provided, to those who are addicts who refuse treatment, and you see similarities.
    Often, it is not wanting to change, or seeing no reason too, until there is a point you have to.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • I’m really glad you found value in the article William, and it’s a little ironic that I hadn’t picked up on the connection to those with substance abuse issues since between my family and my ex-husband that has been such a big part of my personal history. Good observation and thanks for that and sharing your thoughts.

  11. Mark

    My oh my M!
    But have you ever nailed it! And I love the quote by the ” Author unknown” source.

    Your incredibly powerful opening paragraph made reference to, the gap between the person we show the world and the person we’d like to become.

    Thanks, now I feel so much better, because I was always convinced, by personal gap between the two, wasn’t a gap, it was more like a gully!LOL!

    And I can certainly relate to the the, attempting to fix yourself, merely to fit in better, as opposed to attempting to fix yourself, for self improvement reasons!

    Your four reasons for resisting change are so well articulated M! And I totally agree with, both your assessment and advice on constructively dealing with attempting to change!

    We must learn to accept ourselves more, for who we currently are!Because doing so, makes continually striving for future change, a less formidable opponent!
    Mark recently posted…Best Leads Magnets: How And Why They Will Definitely Give You instant Credibility!My Profile

    • Your comments and insights always make me smile Mark! I’m glad you “get it” because I really wanted to get across how self-acceptance and personal growth are not mutually exclusive. Most people have all the smarts they need to succeed if only they will believe and invest in themselves. 🙂

  12. Hi, another beautifully written and informative post. change is the only thing constant in this world and to start change it really should comes from within us. Thanks for sharing.
    leadership skills recently posted…#AskNoahStJohn Show EpisodeMy Profile

  13. Ben

    Hi Marquita. My beliefs have changed a lot over the past ten years when I started learning about personal development. For me, the biggest thing I had to learn to get my new beliefs stick is to not talk about them with people who aren’t on a similar path to me, the people who that life sucks and that we’re here to suffer.
    I agree with your points about making lasting changes. There were two more things that I thought of. One, we have to get rid of the idea that change is hard, because it isn’t if we go about it right. The other thing is that you have to set milestones that mean something to you. For example, some people count their calories when they are trying to lose weight, or they count their steps when walking or monitor their heart rate to reach a target level. None of those numbers mean anything to me and would discourage me from taking any action. For me it’s about how I’ll feel when I’ve reached my goal. When I keep my mind on that, it’s easy to make the changes that I want to make.
    Ben recently posted…Are People Judgmental or Just Have Low Self-EsteemMy Profile

    • You bring up some great points Ben and this is why I’m such a believer in the power of self-motivation. It’s nice to have the support of others to cheer us on, but that’s not always going to happen. Different things motivate different people and a great example of that is how two people can attend the same personal development lecture and while one walks away thinking it was a total waste, the finds the experience a life-changing turning point. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and contribute to the conversation!

  14. Jeri

    We really do only change when we are ready to, and not a moment before. I spent a ton of time thinking about change and nursing the idea for some comfort, but push had to come to shove for me to fully commit to making big changes in my life.
    Jeri recently posted…#Marketing: Professional Writing and Editing OrganizationsMy Profile

    • So very true Jeri! I saw this firsthand with my ex-husband and his substance abuse issues. Nothing anyone could say, no amount of threatening or pleading did any good until he was ready to save himself. It’s a hard lesson to learn sometimes but that’s life. Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation!

  15. Ken Dowell

    I found the discussion about changing your personality vs. being true to yourself interesting. Maybe the answer is that you may want to change some of your personality traits but not to the extent that you change the person you are. Not sure I know anyone who I could definitely say changed their personality. Enjoyed the Warhol quote.
    Ken Dowell recently posted…Wide Boys and V-Girls: A Glossary of Historical Teen PersonasMy Profile

    • I think the key is in the way you define personality Ken. It may help to consider a few common personality traits – confident, adaptable, calm, compassionate, decisive. These are only a few of many personality traits, but each of them can be changed. Anyone can become more adaptable, confident or compassionate if they choose to, and many do which is pretty much the basis of the tons of self-help resources available these days.

  16. Lea Bullen

    Marquita you said it! Life ends up being the obstacle to getting where you want to be. You have to live it for a while before you realize how you really want to live it and by then it’s basically swallowed you whole.

    I learned that whatever comes up I have to continue on with what ever I’m trying to do. There’s always going to be distractions and things that come up, you just have to maneuver around it.

    Lea Bullen recently posted…9 Things You Can Do Anytime to Relieve Stress QuicklyMy Profile

    • I love your point about having to live life for awhile before knowing what you want. That is so true, and I think it’s the primary reason it’s so much easier to focus on priorities as we mature because we have a better sense of who we are and what matters most. Thanks for contributing to the conversation Lea!

  17. Dave

    The only constant in life is change. We are all different from what we were last year at this point. To that end, It seems less about whether we decide to change or not and more about in which direction we funnel that change.

    I think you bring up some amazing insight and reasons why we do resist going down the path that is most beneficial to us an our future.

    For me, one of the things that has helped me personally is balancing the act between holding on and letting go – of control. There are certain aspects of change we can control, and others that we have no influence over. When I have been able to direct my focus on those areas where I actually have some say in what happens, the change I exhibit is usually positive, or at least viewed in a much more positive light 🙂

    Thanks, as always, for sharing Marty!
    Dave recently posted…Poisoned LoveMy Profile

    • Oh yes, the control issue. That’s a big one for most people – it certainly is for me – and lack of it is a prime cause of resistance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and perspective Dave, always appreciated!

  18. Sabrina Quairoli

    I love this. As usually, you are making me think. I know I have changed over time. But, what I also noticed is that I don’t remember who I was before I changed. I am now at a point where I am figuring out where I want to be and what I want to do. Life is a neverending process. Thanks for sharing and reminding me to look at this more closely.

  19. Love this statement: You may discover that what you really need to work on is learning to appreciate yourself just the way you are.

    And I love that you and Lenie both had the courage to dye your hair, even if the results weren’t what you dreamt of. It took me forever to reconcile myself to being the only redhead in my entire family–the whole clan.
    Change, I think we change all the time. Sometimes on purpose and with intent and other times by…osmosis, I guess.

    What you said about the “why” behind our wanting to change something is sure a critical question to ask. Is the change for us or for someone? Hm, why indeed?
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…Seeing the Varied Hearts of CouplesMy Profile

  20. Donna Janke

    I like the Buckmaster quote about it often becoming the person we were meant to be or already are. I do believe we can change, but I also think it is important to accept who we are.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Carnaval in PedasiMy Profile

  21. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    Change can be difficult, but it is something we need to work on and not expect it to happen instantly. If we look at it as a journey, I think it makes it easier. I like when you wrote that it is a commitment, because that to me is the only way we can change something in our lives. Also, when you mentioned to look back and see how we dealt with change is a great idea!

    You always brighten my day.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…Drive Traffic To Your Blog For FreeMy Profile

    • So glad you found value in the post Donna! I know the common theme is to put our past behind us, and I agree to a certain extent, but there is also a lot we can learn that can help us to create a stronger future. Thanks so much for contributing to the conversation!

  22. lenie

    Marquita, couple of things – wish you could post one of those destroyed pictures, I can just imagine. I was blond with very pale complexion and decided to colour my hair black . like you, not a good thing.
    I like the statement, you have to accept yourself as you are. You can always polish it up a bit but you do need to start with liking yourself. I think that is crucial.
    As to the changes I’ve made in the past – well, do you have a year to listen? I think we constantly change depending on life’s challenges and how we meet them. If we see them as a barrier to overcome, it makes us stronger and more confident. If we see them as obstacles that we can’t get around, it works opposite and definitely impacts the personality.
    lenie recently posted…MARCH into Spring – MARCH out with Savings.My Profile

    • Hehhe, well I’ll tell you Lenie I can still remember – vividly – what I looked like with short black hair and that’s bad enough. 🙁 You make great point Lenie about how life challenges us regularly and our mindset toward change can make all the difference between a period of growth and new horizons or one of decline and sorrow. It really is up to us. Thanks so much for sharing, always value your thoughtful comments, my friend. 🙂

  23. Phoenicia

    If we want something badly enough, we will do what is required. I believe many would like change but are not willing to put in the time. I am far more optimistic compared to even five years ago. It has an impact on our perception.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Does a tidy house really equal a tidy mind?My Profile

    • You are so right Phoenicia! The “instant gratification” thing really trips people up – they’d rather do without than wait to create something sustainable. I will never fully understand that mindset, but then I write for the people who are willing to at least make the effort. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  24. Marquita, I do think it’s possible to change. I also think that you have to first acknowledge to yourself that you’re not happy with the way things are now. You need to take the first steps and if you don’t succeed at first learn to forgive yourself and get in the saddle again. Life isn’t perfect so it’s important to celebrate small victories and not get discouraged if change is slow in coming.

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