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How do negative emotions lead us into the trap of "change resistance" ?

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

and how Positive Intelligence ® can release us from this unhealthy trap


In the context work, when a team of people are facing Change, there can be a lot of resistance which can result in abandoning an idea from which everyone would have benefited in the long run. How might we overcome these fears and look at Change as a welcome gift for our personal growth?

What does Change mean ?

Change is about moving to a different place where you will be expected to do more or less of different things (some that you have never done before) and interact differently with different people (some of whom you have never met before). Change generates negative emotions as we feel that external forces are making us drift the unknown.

What can these emotions be like ?

These can be ANXIETY to see our performance drop, the anticipation of more work come or FEAR to be judged for the mistakes we might do. ANGER against one's self for not succeeding or against others for not complying. Even SHAME for not being "good enough" to cope while others appear to be fine (but are they really ?) or even GUILT leading to not wanting to admit the challenge and seek help from others.

As a consequence to all these negative feelings, we end up HATING IT and judging it as a very negative occurrence in our life. There is no judgement on my part here, only discernment that this is often the case.

What else is true about change?

Another truth is in what that Heraclitus wrote 500 BC: "The only constant in life is change". So this is not new. It's just the speed a which change occurs which has increased and since we hate it so much, we have created a lot a barriers around us to avoid it, one or which is to complain about it which puts Change on the top pedestal of our worst enemies. However, is that not overrating it a little ?

The amazing conundrum here is that most people who hate change also use the phrase: "I'll be happy when...." This narrative shows that deep inside there is always HOPE for something TO CHANGE.

As Change is a constant of life, let's face it, there is not destination. This is a journey that we will be walking all our life and therefore need to be fit for. To believe that "We will be happy when.... we will reach another destination!", and yet do nothing about it, is a lie which we tell ourselves and which ends up making us feel worse, leads to more anxiety, stress and even burnout.

Here is the trap

How might we convert the HOPE into the WILL to change, when we have been so negatively judging the idea of it ? Would that not be inauthentic, would it not lack integrity, what will people say ? Here it is. We are trapped in the self sabotage of our own emotions.

How to take take the helm and steer ourselves into the journey to avoid the trap.

As a good friend of mine would say: "Use what's there !"

  • The emotions: they are there to help us see that something is changing and encourage us to do something about it. That is their role: to inform us. While difficult, it is our choice if we decide to dwell into these negative emotions and remain in a hurtful place. Staying where it hurts is unproductive and does not help us to take clearheaded action. Acknowledging these emotions and begin compassionate and non judgmental towards ourselves and others is the first step to move forward. One way to step through them is to talk to other people about our emotions.

  • The people: find out how they are feeling and how they are coping so as to build meaningful connections around this journey. Once our negative emotions of shame and guilt are "managed", we can allow ourselves to seek for help from others. We must remember that they they probably need help as much we do and probably also don't admit it. Let's be creative together in working out what will be the best way to do things together in this new place.

  • The things: We will need to drop some things that we liked to do and were easy, do more things that we don't yet like or that we are not yet good at, and learn new things. Let's figure out which things contribute to the overall purpose of the team and decide how we share them and craft our jobs to provide us with the most positive energy. What might we need to learn to master these new Skills & Tasks and enjoy them ?

It seems simple and yet it is not easy. It begins with good self care. Plenty of water, regular meals with vegetables, enough sleep and exercise to have a full functioning (listen to your grandmother, she knows as change was already happening in her time !) That takes care of your body.

Then we must also take care of the mind by improving our Mental Fitness by the regular training of "mind muscles" to be fit (resilient) and ready to intercept the sabotaging thoughts which are generated by our negative emotions. This is the basis of Positive Intelligence ® (PQ®).

Learn more about the lies of your personal saboteurs (in English only)

Find out more about the Positive Intelligence® programme here.

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