From Resistance to Resilience: 5 Strategies for Overcoming Resistance and Embracing Change

by Madjeen Lorthe | Wellness

Change is the one constant in life we all face. Whether it’s unexpected changes that catch us off guard or changes we actively seek, navigating through transitions can be a complex and challenging journey. But change doesn’t have to be the “dirty” word it’s usually perceived as. When we learn how to overcome resistance to change, we can thrive in the midst of it and come out on the other side with a more fulfilling life.

As a professional woman, or one in a leadership role within your organization or business, change is a constant companion on your journey. For women of color who have established themselves in their careers and professional status, change can feel like an even greater disruptor, even when it’s a change you are seeking. 

I think it goes without saying, being a professional woman and especially a woman of color also provides a unique advantage – Resilience, your ability to adapt in diverse environments. Yet, it’s human nature to resist change, and if you’re doubting your readiness to embrace change, you’re not alone. 

You have more inner power than you’re aware of. It’s time to harness it so you can flip the switch on this resistance and jump into the change you fear with confidence. As I like to say, “your future is on the other side of change”.

woman-thinking-overcoming-resistence

Young professional woman of color in front of a laptop, thinking and pondering.
Image by Brandy Kennedy from Unsplash

Understanding Resistance to Change

Before we delve into strategies for overcoming resistance to change, let’s dissect the nature of resistance, both internal and external.

External resistance, as you might guess, comes from circumstances that are outside of us. Whether it’s a specific situation or the reactions of others, it’s all about the challenges and obstacles that come from external sources. Though external can be easier to recognize and deal with, it doesn’t negate the challenges these present. 

Some examples of external resistance are: 

  • Reactions and/or opposition from others: family, friends, colleagues who don’t understand or support your decision to make a change.
  • Current resource and/or Living Circumstances: limited resources or constraints, lack of budget, time, location constraints or special living situations can be difficult obstacles when you’re implementing changes in your life. 
  • Cultural and/or societal norms: it’s no secret that cultural or societal expectations have a huge impact in our lives, especially for women trying to deviate from the “traditional” roles of a highly patriarchal society. 
  • Professional setting:  whether it is a change management initiative or trying to implement departmental changes, policies and structures can add additional resistance to changes.  

Dealing with external resistance is challenging and will require diligence and skills like effective communication to overcome them. 

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” ~ Maya Angelou

In this article, I’d like to help you pay closer attention to the other side of the coin, internal resistance. Learning how to recognize, understand, and address internal resistance will help you deal with all the external ordeal you may have to face during any time of change. 

Internal resistance stems from within ourselves. It lives inside you and often deep within your psyche. Your internal resistance to change is all about those nagging doubts, fears, insecurities, and inner judgment. 

Learning to recognize and understand this deep resistance requires you to work on developing a keen sense of self-awareness. Effectively managing it, will also demand you’re committed to personal growth. Remember, this is a springboard to your next best. 

Recognizing Internal Resistance 

This resistance is coming from somewhere for a specific reason. It may have served as protection in the past or it may be a result of prior situations or experiences. But if the change is for a better future, it’s time to let the resistance go. 

Building self-awareness and gaining a deeper understanding

  • Self-reflection: Taking time to pause and reflect. Reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and emotions of why you’re resisting this change. Where is this resistance, fear, and anxiousness coming from? Is it real and relevant to the now? 
  • Identifying the fears: Is this resistance being fueled by a specific fear? Fear of the unknown or losing what is familiar or comfortable. Is it fear of failure or success? Once you identify the fear, you can move to understanding and overcoming the resistance. 
  • Beliefs: Do you have predisposed beliefs and assumptions about this change or change in general? Are these beliefs current or even yours? Or are they limiting beliefs imposed by others that are now holding you back? 
  • The past: Your past experiences, positive and negative, will influence how you respond to change. There can be unresolved issues that may resurface during times of change. Working on the self-awareness prompts above will help you dissolve the resistance that comes from past experiences. 

Once you recognize and understand your internal resistance and its sources, you can start taking steps to address them. Addressing your internal resistance requires a level of acceptance and self-compassion on your part. This self-acceptance will help you change negative thoughts, visualize your future, break the change down into steps and seek support as needed. 

A WOMAN’S SECRET WEAPON TO OVERCOMING RESISTANCE TO CHANGE 

Earlier, I mentioned one advantage you and I have (as women) when it comes to change. Our ability to adapt and get back up stronger as life requires. You’ve been through a lot to get where you are today. You know you have that muscle you’ve strengthened over time through experiences and personal growth. And this is your superpower secret weapon ~ RESILIENCE! 

While resilience is a trait any and all individuals can have regardless or sex, race, age, research suggests women tend to display higher levels of resilience. There are many reasons for this like stronger social networks, emotional intelligence, the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities and roles and above all survival mechanisms. Historically women have faced adversities that helped shape our resilience. 

This “not-so-secret weapon” can serve as the strongest of anchors during times of change and uncertainty. Your resilience will provide you with emotional stability and strength, adaptability and resourcefulness, confidence and a sense of empowerment. 

“We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward.” ~ Isabel Allende

We’ve covered the difference between external and internal resistance. You understand resistance to change is normal. You’ve got some understanding of how to recognize and dissect the origins of these types of resistance. And you know you have everything you need inside you to move forward with the changes that will propel your success. How do you overcome and get past the resistance to change?

5 Strategies for Overcoming Resistance to Change

Simple powerful practices and tips to sail through resistance with more confidence and ease. 

Mindfulness and Journaling

Use mindfulness practices like self-reflection, quiet time and journaling to your advantage. Journaling your thoughts, feelings, and emotions about the change can be a powerful ally in recognizing resistance and fears as well as providing clarity around it all. Journaling can serve as your personal workbook for navigating transitions.

Gaining Clarity

Getting crystal clear on what you want and why is key to setting the right aligned goals for your desires and aspirations. Setting clear goals with actionable steps and having a clear vision of where you want to go will help you stay focused and motivated during the challenging times of change.

Leveraging Your Strengths

Recognize, know and embrace your unique strengths and talents. Use them as pillars to boost your confidence during changes and big transitions. 

Embracing Your Resilience as Your Anchor 

Why not? You’ve worked for it, you have it. Embrace it. This is your proven ability to adapt to the external, overcome adversity, bounce back from challenges and even gifted you with strengths and talents. It’s time to lean on it and use it as the superpower it is. 

Enlist Your Support Network

Who in your network has experienced similar times of change or big transitions? Seek support from that friend, family member, colleague or mentor who understands change is good and is the way to your next chapter. Seek the guidance of a life coach who can help you navigate through all the stages of change that come with big life transitions. A strong support network will provide you with emotional support, encouragement, and guidance when you need it most. 


When you learn to accept and embrace change as your gateway to “NEXTS” – a better future, a better you, more fulfillment – you get to approach transitions with newfound confidence and empowerment. Change is a process, not an event. Employing these strategies will help you through the other side but remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself space and time to adapt. 


Thank you for reading:

From Resistance to Resilience: 5 Strategies for Overcoming Resistence and Embracing Change by Madjeen Lorthe, M.Ed, ACC. www.transitionswelldone.com

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Madjeen Lorthe
Founder & Principal at Transitions Well Done

Madjeen Lorthe is a certified life and transition coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is the founder and owner of Transitions Well Done, a private coaching practice where she helps women transform the way they live, work, and play. She is passionate about helping women navigate through life transitions with ease and confidence, using a holistic and trauma-informed care approach. With two decades of experience in nonprofit and mental health counseling, Madjeen is equipped to guide individuals through various life challenges. As a first-generation Black Caribbean immigrant woman and a parent to a teenage daughter, Madjeen understands the unique challenges and opportunities that arise during times of change. She believes that every woman has the power to create the life she desires and provides a safe and supportive space for clients to explore their goals while celebrating their achievements along the way.

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