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Outwit Your Resistance!

by bevbarnes on May 11, 2011

It took me 15 years to become a Life Coach.

 I think I was one of the first people in Canada to know what a Life Coach was.

 If I had taken the leap then, maybe I’d have been one of the founders of the profession, like Cheryl Richardson or even Martha Beck.

 Okay, maybe not.

Why didn’t I just jump in and start doing this work 15 years ago?  I knew that I was born to do this work.  I was passionate.  I was inspired.  I’d heard of Life Coaching.

 I was afraid.

Here was my list of utterly rational normal fears:

This isn’t a known profession.  I’ll have to sell people on why they need it and I hate selling.

I’ll have to be self-employed and I’m not the self-employment type.

I won’t be able to make a living.  I’ll end up living in my parent’s garage.

People are going to think I’m a woo-woo nut case.

This is not a legitimate profession.  What the hell is a Life Coach?

I’ll be alone. 

I told myself that I was a big chicken and risk averse. 

I wished I could be like those fearless people that lived life with gusto.  I admired those people that lept…..empty handed into the void.  I admired those people that weren’t afraid to fail.

I didn’t know that the tension I felt rising up inside me when I considered quitting my job and becoming a Life Coach was resistance, a completely normal feeling that everybody feels.  Resistance is a survival mechanism of our species.  Its whole objective is to keep us safe and help us to survive.  If we don’t make any changes, then our species isn’t in danger (it thinks).   Clearly my ancestors were survivors.. 

 My biggest desire was to run not walk away from that feeling and so it took me 15 years to do something that I always knew I was meant to do.

But I eventually did it.

 I want to help you do what you were born to do more quickly than I did.  You can’t wait for your resistance to go away because it won’t.  You have to outwit your resistance; fool it into thinking that you aren’t making any changes.  Here is what worked for me.

 1.  Follow what you love…no matter what.  What you love is what you were meant to do.  Remember that.  It is not just a selfish wish – even though others may not understand it.  It is who you are and what you need to express.  Loving something is a signal from your soul that points you in the direction you need to go.

2. Don’t give up.   Keep on being inspired.  Keep immersing yourself in that thing you love even if you aren’t doing it for a living.  Find people that love what you love and spend time with them. I created a business card as inspiration while I was still working as a Corporate Manager.  It’s in the picture below.  This card inspired me to believe that my dream could come true. (Notice that I couldn’t call myself a Life Coach).


 3.  Take baby steps.  Do the smallest possible thing that feels safe and moves you in the direction of your desire.  I became a career transition consultant.   I got a Masters degree.  Okay, maybe that’s not so small, but it helped.  I started working on a freelance basis.   My title on the business card became real.  I was actually being a stealth Life Coach.  Doing everything that a coach does without calling myself a coach.  I had managed to outwit my resistance by doing the essence of my desire without calling it that.  I also got comfortable not having a full-time job and working on contract. 

 Baby steps outwit your resistance.  Your resistance doesn’t realize that you’ve made a huge change in your life until it would be a bigger change to go back.

 4.  Don’t believe all the awful things your resistance tells you about yourself.  The whole point of your resistance is to keep you safe which means shut you down so you do nothing.  Your resistance wants you to prowl Facebook all day.  That helps you to do nothing.  I don’t know anybody who gets inspired by reading Facebook posts all day.  I personally get discouraged.  Okay that’s a whole other subject for another post.  When you tell yourself that you are unorganized, a procrastinator, a big chicken, not good enough and all those horrible things you’ve told yourself just so you won’t move any closer to the thing you were born to do….it’s all a lie.  Yes you might need more training, more support but there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with you.

5.  Understand your Feelings.  Your feelings give you messages.  They are like the dashboard in a car.  They light up and tell you to check the engine, that your oil is low or that you need gas.  Resistance is replete with feelings, most of them that you probably try to avoid.  I avoided fear for years, but once I realized that I could feel fear and still survive, I started moving toward my life’s work.  My fear was just telling me that I was moving out of my comfort zone and not that I was being chased by an axe murderer….even if it felt similar.

5.  Get support.  This is the biggie.  Support means creating a structure that will move you forward even when you don’t feel like doing it yourself.  Athletes understand this but why don’t the rest of us?  Why do we think that we are supposed to do it alone?

 Linda, a client of mine who runs marathons described the support she has as follows:

 I have coaches that support all aspects of my running: one who sets my speed work training, helps me prepare for races, helps me set my pace and can help trouble shoot with injuries and one who organizes all aspects of weekend long runs, helps set plans, and is the best cheerleader.  She helps me through any anxiety and has run me in at races. 

I belong to 2 running groups; one I’ve been with for 10 years.  They are now family.  This running group makes the most difficult part of training, incredibly easy.  They help me to work on speed work and pursue my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. 

When Linda told me this it was mind-boggling.  You mean people that run marathons don’t just use their own grit and determination?  They need cheerleaders? Organizers?  Anxiety reducers?  Partners?

The people in Linda’s groups have fallen in love with her dream.  They are invested in her dream even when she is tired, discouraged and doesn’t feel she can.  They remind her of how great her dream to run the Boston Marathon is.  They help her achieve her dreams even when she believes she can’t. 

We all need a supportive team…..especially when we are trying to do what we were born to do.

So resistance’s big trick is this:  It tells you that you have to consistently believe you can, in order to achieve something.  You spend all your time trying to believe and none of your time actually doing. 

The truth is you don’t have to consistently believe you can.  You can rely on other people believing in you and supporting you. 

How many times have you heard someone saying how proud they are of achieving something because they really believed that they couldn’t do it?  It happens all the time.  Those people probably had support because that is how you overcome resistance.

If you want to read more about resistance and how to overcome it, try Barbara Sher who has written about resistance in all her books.   You can check out Live the Life you Love.   Steven Pressfield, a prolific writer has a new book which is currently a FREE download on Kindle from, called Do the WorkMartha Beck also discusses resistance which she affectionately refers to as the “lizard brain”, the part of you that is focused on escaping danger and avoiding scarcity.  Check out her book, Steering By Starlight

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Janelle May 11, 2011 at 9:12 am

Love this Bev! I just shared it with all of my life coach classmates. Thanks for the rest of the story. I am so glad you overcame your resistance. You are a brilliant coach.


admin May 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I’m so glad I overcame my resistance Janelle. I hope it helps your classmates. Bev


Koren Motekaitis May 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm


This is beautiful. You have shared your journey and your own doubts and now others know that this does not mean they are on the wrong path. It is part of the process.


admin May 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Absolutely Karen….just part of the process.


Gail Kenny May 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Bev – Just what I needed today. I just quit my day job to pursue life coaching full-time. Your encouragement, validation and support will help keep me on track and believing in myself and what I have to offer.


admin May 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I’m glad it helped Gail. “God winks” as Oprah calls them. The message you need at the time you need it, telling you that you are on the right track.


Manal May 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm

This is a great reminder!

I, too, have trouble calling myself a life coach.
Except fpr me, right now, I can’t tell if it’s resistance or if
I’m in the wrong field. (I’m starting to guess it may be the second)

Any tips to figure out which is which?



admin May 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm

What can you NOT not do? That is a big hint about what you love. Try forgetting about the title and describe what you love to do. You actually don’t need to call it anything….just find a way to do whatever it is that calls you.


Daggi May 13, 2011 at 7:38 am

THANKS for that post…just what I needed and the facebook thing is soooo true (for me at least)


admin May 13, 2011 at 8:53 am

You are welcome Daggi!


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