Why Do We Resist Things We Actually Want?

Do you ever resist something you know would be good for you? Maybe people tell you to exercise because you will look and feel better, but you resist. You hear people discussing how bad sugar is, but you resist, thinking that those people are missing out on life, all while knowing that you probably would feel better too if you stopped eating sugary, processed food. Maybe there is a part of you that wants to drink less alcohol, but as soon as it’s 6:00, you resist that voice and pour yourself a nice glass of wine, only to feel a little guilty and conflicted.

The question is why do we resist things we actually want to do? Why do we resist things we know would make us look and feel better? And, what information can we learn if we are willing to look at and listen to the resistance? In this week’s podcast, I take a deep dive into the biological and psychological reasons behind resistance. I work with lots of resistance in my private practice. I also recently had my own experience with some major resistance.

Here’s what I’ll discuss in this week’s Fix Yourself Podcast.

~ How inertia and homeostasis are biological reasons we resist change.

~ When resistance signals that there is ADDICTION present that needs addressing.

~ How our FEARS and BELIEFS can often create psychological resistance, even when we aren’t aware of what they are.

~ When resistance signals that we might be perfectionists or living in perpetual judgment.

A few months ago, I decided to ‘fix myself’ around sleep. I had been using medication to treat my insomnia for years. It was so easy. I’m a bad sleeper, so popping a pill at the end of the long day meant I could sleep well. What’s the problem with that?

The problem was that I knew, as all of you reading this know, that it isn’t healthy to be reliant on sleeping pills. Sleep is important and yet, natural sleep is far superior to medicated sleep. For years, people suggested I stop taking pills and I would resist in a big way. I’d say, “I’m super fit and eat well and exercise, but I’m not a great sleeper and sleep is important, so get off my back.” This was major resistance and likely indicated addiction or at the very least, psychological dependence on sleep medication.

As you will hear in the podcast, I had to get honest and committed to the goal of getting off medication before I could be successful. I researched the most effective treatment for insomnia and started with a psychologist who uses CBT-I, or cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia. Even in treatment, I could feel myself resisting some of the recommendations. She’s say, I don’t even wanting you to use medication for jet lag and I’d think, “That’s stupid and not going to happen.” It’s funny to look back at my process now that the treatment is over, but at the time it was very bizarre. Why was I fighting a treatment I was paying for? I have patients who resist my recommendations all the time and here I was, doing the same thing.

It took a willingness to examine my beliefs around sleep before I could understand my resistance and what it was telling me. I discovered an ambivalence about sleep. I was identified with the doers of the world; the people who believe that we will sleep when we die. It was only after I challenged the belief and realized that you can be very productive and still sleep well, that my resistance to the therapy went away.

In addition to my own case, I’ll also discuss a few client examples and how we handled their resistance. Finally, I’ll discuss how to overcome each of these four kinds of resistance in greater detail. If, like me, you have goals that you want to reach but keep resisting the behaviors that will get you there, please listen in.

You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places:

iTunes
Spotify
Google Play
Stitcher

Have a wonderful week!

Shannon Connery, Ph.D.

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