Self-Actualization

What To Do When Encountering Resistance To Your Growth

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If you’re in the process of growth you’ll surely encounter resistance from the people around you, even friends and family members who purport to really care about you. This is because growth implies change and a change to any part of the interconnected social system ends up impacting the whole system. In other words your growth means you change but it also means the people around you are compelled to change, to adjust to the new you in ways big and small.

Whatever those who care about you consciously want for you at the unconscious level they want you to stay as you are because right now you’re fulfilling an important role in their own psychological equilibrium. When you start thinking, feeling, and most importantly behaving differently towards them and the world their psychological equilibrium is upset, it’s like a coach counting on a player at a certain position and suddenly this player goes down with an injury. The result is increased existential anxiety. The way to mitigate this existential anxiety is to consciously or unconsciously push you back into your old role, into your old patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

So what to do when encountering resistance to your growth? First look deeply and make sure it is healthy growth and not unhealthy change, that the person you’re becoming is someone you know you are, someone you know at a deep level of your being is the authentic you. If this is the case the most important thing you can do is become consciously aware of how and why resistance is occurring. Notice it in the moment and categorize this resistance for what is, a desperate attempt to maintain the current structure of the social system. Remind yourself to stay true to your vision of yourself and where you’re headed regardless of all that external noise. The people close to you aren’t necessarily trying to hurt you, and they probably really do consciously want what’s best for you, they want to support your growth and self-actualization, but it’s a lot easier to support in theory then it is in reality when a social setup relied upon for psychological equilibrium is suddenly upset and existential anxiety skyrockets as a result.

So whether the behavior towards you is passive aggressive or active, your process of becoming is going to include the denigration of your character along with words and actions designed to make you go back to thinking, feeling, and acting like you did before. It’s okay to call this behavior out in a constructive way. You can mitigate some of the existential anxiety arising in the people around you by sitting them down and explaining to them the difference between random change and focused growth, that what’s happening to you and to them is just an intermediate stage as you move towards a higher, better, happier, more authentic, more fulfilled version of you. It’s up to them whether or not they want to be around this person. It’s up to you whether or not you want to bring this person about.

Greetings I'm Michael, the owner of Evolution Counseling and the author of all the articles on this site. I got my master's degree from Seattle University in community mental heath counseling and have committed myself to advancing my knowledge of psychology and to evolving my own philosophical system ever since. In addition to the content on this site I offer online coaching using Skype. If you'd like to learn more about it click on the online coaching tab or if you think you'd like to set up a session send me an email at evolve@evolutioncounseling.com.

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