There was a time when I used to believe that human beings act with their own self-interest in mind. After all, every person should want to take care of their own well-being unless you are one of the few driven by an altruistic need.
Surprisingly, I have come to realise that this is not always true.
We do not always work in our own real or perceived self-interest.
Here I am not talking about not knowing what is right for you. Rather the focus is on when we know what to do and still don’t do it. Human beings are perhaps the only species that can act against their self-interest in spite of having all understanding and knowledge of what they should be doing.
One of my clients needs to speak to his manager about his promotion but keeps putting it off every day in spite of ample opportunities to have the conversation. He also knows that if he does not speak up he may lose out on an upcoming opportunity. A clear case of not acting in his interest.
We all know of people continuing to stick to a job that they hate and not doing anything about it.
Some of us want to give up habits that we well know are harmful for us like, smoking or excessive eating. But we just never get round to doing it.
What are some areas of your life that you do not keep your own self-interest as a priority?
In most of these situations we know we should take action or change things. Conciosioucly or subconsciously we even know what to do.
Why are actions to change these situations so hard to take?
It is almost like behind each of these small and big changes that we want to make lies a force and a resistance that holds us back. Clients have described this resistance to me with different metaphors; a wall, feeling stuck, caught in a fog, feeling tied down.
What is your understanding of what stops you from making a critical change in your life?
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance. – Steven Pressfield
And if we could master this resistance we would probably all be living our perfect ideal lives.
What is this resistance that stops us from acting in our own self-interest?
The resistance to change stems from many things including the comfort of what is familiar, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of not being smart enough to handle the change, fear of spoiling relationships. Resistance is your mind and body telling you that there could be danger and tough times ahead.
The bigger the resistance you feel higher is the glory on the other side.
When we encounter this resistance to change the effect can often be crippling and it may feel easier to avoid the issue and pretend that the situation is okay and your fear doesn’t exist.
What if we looked at resistance differently?
Let me invite you to look at this resistance that you feel from a different perspective.
The sheer presence of this resistance is an indicator that you are onto bigger and better things.
So, what if instead of the situation we focus on the resistance and face it head on?
Even better, what if we treat resistance as a friend and ask it what it is that it really needs to allow us to move forward?
Sometimes that answers will hold big surprises.