How To Overcome Resistance on the Path to Progress

How To Overcome Resistance on the Path to Progress

Last update: 08 November, 2022

Resistance is a type of barrier or obstacle, conscious or subconscious, that impedes us from advancing. Resistance can include thoughts, and even emotions and feelings. Many people experience resistance to change due to fear, anxiety, or the pain that the change may cause. We must learn how to overcome resistance if we want to progress and change.

“The more we do, the more we can do.” 

-William Hazlitt-

What are the factors that contribute to resistance?

Fear of the unknown

Getting out of our “comfort zone and into an enormous desert we have never seen before can provoke fear, and even terror and panic.

Drawing of a woman in a red dress on a tree branch

Lack of information

This is when we don’t know what we are going to encounter. One of the biggest fears of the human being:  uncertainty

When uncertainty is present, we feel insecure, like we don’t have a grip on things, and we have to proceed blindly. But, regardless, we must proceed and conquer the uncertainty that will inevitably be there.

Fear of failure

This is another one of the biggest fears we have. What happens if something goes poorly? What if I fail? And what about the pain I will feel when I do fail? What will others say if I do something wrong? Will they laugh at me? It is one of the most paralyzing fears that exists. But it is a fear that only exists in our mind.

Fear of disappointing others

Most of us have strong tendency to try to please others, and to always hang on the words of others. This leads us to fear disappointing others. We fear that they will stop loving us if something goes wrong, or if we will let someone down, or that they will reject us if we say what we really think or if we are our true selves. It is a fear of which we should be conscious in order to be able to overcome it.

Fear of what others will say

In our culture, what is said by others  always seems to be in the back of everyone’s mind. Often, if we do something different than the rest, they point fingers at us and accuse us. But at the same time, it is a hypocritical society that encourages us to be different and to say what is on our mind. This contradiction creates within us confusion, fear, and uncertainty. 

Fear of being unable to learn or do something

This fear is processed through negative thoughts that we impose upon ourselves, like “because I can’t,” “because I’m stupid,” “because nothing every works out for me.”

Abstract drawing man balancing between day and night


Everything that takes effort tires us out. In order to avoid change, we leave things as they are, because changing requires effort and just thinking about it makes us tired. Anyway,  what is the point of changing if things aren’t that bad.

“Better a known evil than an unknown good”

This classic Castilian refrain refers to the “comfort zone.” Why would we leave our “comfort zone” if we like it that way? Although the change may be positive and improve our life, we don’t want to risk the chance of it being a negative change.

It is clear that fear is the main factor that activates our resistance to something and much of that resistance is mental barriers that we put up of ourselves. In addition, the unknown and “laziness”, in some cases, help us resist taking the step towards change.

Structural resistance

This type of resistance is what is referred to as external changes, or environmental changes. For example, the changing of a college course or major, a change in a relationship, a new home, etc.

This resistance scares us, makes us feel insecure, causes us to suffer failures and negative feelings that we see as obligated upon us by society.

Personal Resistance

Personal resistance refers to the three basic pillars of change: to want, to be able to, and to know. We can say “no” to the change, and we have every right to. But, we have to be conscious of it and make sure it is our own decision.

What we cannot do is want something, be able to obtain it, know how to do it, and then find it impossible to achieve. If there is an obstacle, we have to fight it.

As human beings, we usually impose upon ourselves mental barriers, many times allowing them to impede us in achieving that which we long for and what we know will make us happy. There is an easy solution in overcoming these barriers.

In addition to putting all of our willpower into being able to overcome this, we should keep  the following steps in mind: 

  • We should define our objective and desired result. 
  • We will outline all the possible choices so that we can choose just one.
  • We will develop a list of things that need to be done.
  • We will establish the steps we will take.
  • We must also keep in mind how we will evaluate our advances.
  • Persevere; this is very important. If we want something, we cannot be easily defeated.
  • Stay ahead of what could possibly happen. We should establish what we will do if something goes wrong. 

And now… Are you read for change?

Keep in mind that if uneasiness and discomfort are not present, there is no problem, and where there is no problem, there is no action for change. If you have many people around you, willing to help you and support you, then you are not alone.

If there is something that you are ignorant of, educate yourself, learn, read and ask questions, before jumping into the unknown. It will be much easier that way. And, finally, if you love yourself, you believe in your achievements, and you are self-motivated, you will easily conquer any resistance! 

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.