Change is needed for survival. It’s part of normal growth. It’s part of our cycles and systems and even part of our routines. It’s necessary for innovation and even survival.
Creativity is change.
Change is unavoidable. Change often leads us to something better, fresher, more rewarding.
Ultimately, even if change is painful, it’s usually necessary.
Change is unavoidable, usually necessary, and often rewarding. But we still avoid it. We resist.
The self-protection. The moments of curling inward. The denial. The shortness of breath. The glazed eyes. The “that’s not the way we do things” speech. The look of terror. The hardening of the facial expression, the raising eyebrows, the smirking mouth.
Resistance has its functions.
“Depending on the nature of the change, the surrounding environment and the conditions in which the change occurs,” says Antonio Giangreco of the Ieseg School of Management in Lille, France, “resistance is not always and necessarily a negative event” (Source: Conceptualisation and Operationalisation of Resistance to Change).
Benefits of Resistance
First: Resistance Teaches Us How to Change
Change, while necessary, requires that we adjust. A new shock wave of change comes along and we have to respond. There are many options for dealing with the change.
Lots of ideas.
Not all of the ideas are good ones.
Resistance helps us stay one step back and sort through the ideas critically, finding one that is realistic and helpful. According to Giangreco, “If resistance is managed properly, it could provide constructive feedback to the change process.”
Second: Resistance Teaches Us What to Value
Internal resistance shows us what we really value by revealing what we really fear.
“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North – meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing,” says Steven Pressfield in his book Do the Work.
We resist what we most fear, and we fear what we most value, because we fear failing in it. Our subversive little brains form this self-protective circle of resistance; to keep ourselves from failing, we keep ourselves from attempting. Somehow we think it’s easier to live with not trying at all.
Third: Resistance Forces Us to Define the Goal
External resistance (that which comes from other people/forces) helps us to clarify what we mean.
We have to dig down, define, defend our pet project or idea. We have to bring it out into the glaring light of day. We get critiques, which are painful, and misunderstanding, which is even more painful. But we also get interest, encouragement, accountability. And we get the chance to see if we can defend what we value. If not, we need to go back, do some more work, and then try it again.