Running a business forces you to step out of your comfort zone in ways a corporate job just never would.
When you’re the boss, you’re the sole person responsible for the company’s success or failure. This can be a daunting but incredibly rewarding experience. It’s up to you to create a vision and make it happen — and usually, that requires doing things that feel massively uncomfortable.
Whether it’s raising your prices, reaching out to potential new clients or sharing your message online to millions of strangers, chances are you’re going to encounter some resistance that will prevent you from doing what’s necessary to get to the next level of your business. Being able to discern when it’s a sign you should lean in and take action or when it’s your wisdom telling you to pivot away is an essential skill to have not only in business, but also in life.
What is resistance, really?
Feeling a bit of resistance isn’t necessarily a warning sign that you’re about to make a huge mistake. Rather, it can be a sign that you’re stepping into the unknown, stretching the boundaries of your identity and pushing the limits of your capabilities. In this sense, resistance is a powerful tool because it means you’re growing. It’s an indication that you’re pushing yourself to achieve something new and better. It’s an internal green light to keep moving forward toward the thing you want, regardless of any fear or hesitation you might be feeling.
The problem comes when we start to interpret resistance as a sign that we’re doing something wrong just because it’s uncomfortable or doesn’t feel great. Instead of taking a step back to evaluate what this resistance is trying to tell us, we immediately judge it as bad because it’s challenging. This can lead to self-doubt and second-guessing, which ultimately sabotage our efforts and diminish our chances of success.
We’re not communicating with the resistance. There is no dialogue or curiosity about what it is or what it can do for us. So how will we ever learn what the wisest next steps are if we run away every time it crops up?
How to leverage resistance for success.
When I’m working with clients, I always ask that we treat resistance as a well-intentioned friend who has our best interests in mind rather than a bitter opponent who’s out to make us look bad.
Feeling resistance doesn’t mean that you’re on the wrong track. Rather, it’s an opportunity to look inward and explore your fears and limiting beliefs.
The key is to learn how to use resistance to your advantage to grow your business. So instead of avoiding it or caving to its will, get curious and ask your resistance these important questions:
Why are you here?
What are you protecting me from?
Where do you come from?
Often, resistance is simply trying to tell us that we need to slow down, get clear about our intentions and make sure we’re taking actions from a place of love and service.
When you can learn to work with resistance in this way, it becomes an incredibly powerful ally — not just in your business journey, but in all aspects of your life.
For example, last year I was feeling a lot of resistance returning to Bali — where I had been living for two years — after spending a few weeks visiting family in Europe. My days in Europe trickled by, and I struggled to decide if I felt ready to return.
I consulted with my own mentor, and to my surprise, I uncovered old childhood wounds around the sadness and grief of being consistently uprooted in my childhood. I felt so comfortable to be back with family in Europe that a part of me resisted going back to the other home I’d created for myself because I didn’t want to experience the feeling of uprooting myself again.
The magical part? When we got to the bottom of what was really causing that feeling of resistance, it disappeared. I booked my ticket back home to Bali without a second thought because now I understood where the resistance had come from and what it was trying to tell me (which is that I love having a place to call “home” and don’t need to travel the way I used to).
By getting curious and exploring resistance, you’ll not only make progress with your business, but also grow as a person. You’ll develop greater self-awareness and learn to trust yourself more.
The more you can understand and work with resistance, the less power it will have over you. You’ll begin to see it as a valuable ally on your journey rather than an obstacle to be avoided.
So the next time you feel that internal resistance, don’t push through it blindly. Get curious and explore what it’s trying to tell you. It might be just the thing you need to hear in order to continue moving forward.
Originally featured on Entrepreneur.
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