How to Overcome Resistance

Why it is normal to encounter resistance when working with affirmations and offers many suggestions for overcoming it.

Entrenched thinking does not give way easily. We're creatures of habit, and our minds are no exception. The familiar—even when it's negative and painful—often feels safer than change. So it's not unusual to encounter resistance while doing affirmation work.

We often encounter resistance early in the process. That little negative voice that whispers "I can't" packs a powerful punch. It can stop you from developing goals suited to your true purpose by whispering 'How dare you even think about achieving such a thing?" It can break your focus with questions like "Who are you kidding?". It can dilute the emotional intensity of the work by interrupting with messages like "Don't be ridiculous;" "Don't waste your time"; and "You're not worthy."

Here are some suggestions for working with resistance:

Identify the message

Nothing stalls progress on affirmation work faster than the negative voice of resistance. What can you do when it appears? The first step is to recognize it and allow it to have its say. It can even be useful to write down what it says. It helps to know who the enemy is, even when it's in your own mind! Once you see the message in black and white, you can step back and decide what to do about it.

Check your affirmation

The first thing you should do is to check your affirmation to make sure it's really what you want. Is it authentic? Does it reflect your preferences, desires, true purpose, and higher self? If the answer is no, think about how you can rewrite your affirmation to make it more authentic. To learn how to write authentic affirmations, click here. If the answer is yes, it's time to begin working with the resistance.

Chase away the illusion

Sometimes just seeing it is enough to make you realize that the negative message is only an illusion-an old belief established long ago that no longer has validity. If this is the case, you should be able to simply let it go. Tear up the written message or burn the paper it's written on and move on.


Sometimes you may have to do more. You may have to argue. One way of doing this is to look for exceptions. Is the negative message always true? Are there situations where it isn't? Do you fail at everything you try to do, or are there some situations where you succeed? What makes the difference? Questions like these can help you identify the problem behind the resistance. They can also help you understand that the message isn't always true.

Acknowledge, thank, dismiss

Sometimes it's better not to argue. Instead you can simply acknowledge the negative message, thank it, and dismiss it. Try saying something like this in response: "Thanks for pointing out how stupid...or incompetent...or lacking I am. I know you're trying to protect me by helping me avoid future disappointment. I know you're afraid I'm going to fail. But I've decided to try doing things differently. I'm working on a new way of looking at things. Step aside and let me get on with my work."

If the message continues to interrupt your work, try drawing a picture of the negative words in your mind; then imagine them fading away into the distance. Or try hearing the message in your mind and letting the sound fade away.

Identify the source

If this doesn't work, there are still other possibilities. One is to try to remember where you first heard these negative messages. Sometimes releasing repressed memories of childhood mistakes, embarrassments, or misunderstandings is enough to chase negative messages away. By discovering their source, we dilute their power.

Drop back

An alternative approach is to give in to the resistance temporarily and rewrite your affirmation so that it is less threatening to the negative inner voice that's trying to protect you. Instead of "I have all the money I need," change the affirmation to "I find ways to increase my income." Drop back. Start with a smaller goal. You can bump it up later.

Do it anyway

You may also encounter other kinds of resistance. You may wake up one morning and think "I don't feel like doing this now." If you give in to this feeling, you may continue to push the work aside through the day ("I don't have time") and into the evening ("I'm too tired."). The next day you may think, "There's no point in doing this anymore. I blew it yesterday. It's too late now."

What can you do about this kind of resistance? Some people are able to counter it when it begins by simply saying to themselves, "I don't feel like it, but I going to do it anyway," or "I blew it yesterday, but I'm going to start over today."  Other people may have more difficulty ignoring their feelings. If this is true for you, you may find it useful to ask yourself some questions.

Ask yourself questions

If you tend to let your feelings stop your work, you may find it useful to work through questions like, "Why don't I feel like doing this today?"; "What fear of success or failure possible lurks behind this feeling?"; "Am I going to let my feelings interfere with what I really want?"; or "Do I dare to want what I am affirming?" Questions like these can make you more aware of unconscious thoughts or beliefs that sabotage the work.


Resistance may also arise in the action phase of affirmation work. You may take a small step forward—sending a resume to a prospective employer, for example, or inviting someone out. That step may fail—you may get no reply from the employer or a negative response to your invitation. "What's the use?" the negative voice taunts. "You'll never find a better job," or 'No one worthwhile will ever want to go out with you."

What do you do now? Step back, take a deep breath, and try again. If you have difficulty doing this, pull something else out of your bag of resistance tools:

  • Identify the message
  • Check your affirmation
  • Chase away the illusion
  • Argue
  • Acknowledge, thank, dismiss
  • Identify the source
  • Drop back
  • Do it anyway
  • Ask yourself questions

Get help

Sometimes outside assistance is necessary. You may wish to work with a friend or counselor who can help you counter your negative beliefs, keep things in perspective, and get back on the track.

Continue to Persist

But above all, persist! As anyone who reads fairy tales knows, the road from desire to winning the prize isn't always easy. But the prize doesn't always go to the most talented, the smartest, or the best looking among us. Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare? Who won the race? It wasn't the rabbit. Persistence is the key to changing your thinking and achieving your dreams.