Why We Resist Things that are Good for Us

We’ve all been there….

We want to start that new healthy diet, or that new exercise routine, or that meditation habit.

And yet, we don’t.

“Life gets in the way” or “we don’t have time for it” or “we will do it when things settle down.”

All convenient excuses 😉

On some level, we know the changes that we need to make to our lives that would result in more happiness, more peace, more health.

And at the same time, we desperately cling to the things we do now, and need to dragged crying and screaming toward health.

Ah to be human.

So what is really going on beneath the surface that leads to this?

Here’s a few things going on:

1.You are doing things that just bring about temporary relief

We think we are doing just fine.  We got our coping skills of:  Watching netflix, judging ourselves to motivate ourselves, emotional eating, focusing on other people’s problems, thinking of external fixes.

We have become masters of avoiding, and distracting ourselves from our inner pain.

And it works (sorta).

It works in the short term.  The anxiety doesn’t feel so bad – for a moment.  

Unfortunately, the anxiety hasn’t actually gone away, just pushed away for a time.

We can only avoid our problems for so long.  Sooner or later, they show up again.  And then the avoidance happens again.

And it works (kinda) so why not just stick with that?

2. We are afraid of change, afraid of the unfamiliar, afraid of the unknown

We don’t really like change.  We don’t really like things that are unfamiliar.  We especially don’t want to face the unknown – even if it is something that is healthy, that we know would be good for our wellbeing.

In other words:

“It is better to be miserable with the familiar than be healthy with the unfamiliar.”

What I have been doing so far is OK, so why change it?

Sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better.  The pain has to get so bad until we are willing to admit, and willing to take action on change.

And that’s OK.

And, we can make changes without the motivation of pain.

But until then, why not just stay as long as we can in our comfort zones?

3. We are afraid of leaving others behind

This is a subtle but powerful fear as we approach doing something that would be good for us.

If we grew up in a family, or have a group of friends, that indulges in an unhealthy habit, what happens when you try to quit?

They resist and try to bring you back in.

They know that if you start doing that healthy habit, you are going to “leave them behind.”

It’s an understandable fear of losing those connections.

And it is something that could happen if you do start that new healthy habit.

They may not want to talk to you again.  They may be angry and resist and tell you you are crazy for meditating.

Or maybe they will join you.  Maybe not.

Either way, you may lose some of the connections in your life.

Why risk losing these connections?

These three ways of resisting what is healthy for you are important to be aware of within yourself.

You can notice how they show up, the stories they have, and accept these resistances as normal.

Then you can step into the part of you that is wise, sees the bigger picture, and knows what is healthy for you in the long-term.

From this part, speak kindly to these resistances, and fears.  Hold them with compassion.  Tell them everything is OK.

And then take the first step.  Step into the unknown.  Take your fears with you.  And trust in your inherent intuition of how you need to grow.

You CAN take action toward what is healthy for you.  And you CAN feel uncomfortable at the same time.

And you can be compassionate to yourself along the way.

So, the choice is yours.

Stay in the familiar, or, take a step toward the healthy and unknown?

Until next time,

Ellis Edmunds, Psy.D.

P.S.  My collegue and I just created our first self-guided online mindfulness e-course!  Check it out below:

Everyday Mindfulness for Stress and Anxiety 6 Week Self-Guided E-Course