The Power of Emotional Awareness: Overcoming Resistance to Change

by | 18 Apr 2023

Let’s talk about your feelings, shall we – said no man ever.


When you want to make a change that you know is in your best interest but you feel resistance, it is a clue that you have some emotional reaction to the change you want to make. What trips us up is that most of us can’t pinpoint exactly what it is.


So, some detective work is required.


Feeling resistance implies that we are unaware of what is stopping us. Identifying the emotion behind the resistance brings awareness to it and helps us address it, paving the way to make the change we want. Here is a simplified and practical take on how feelings and emotions relate to one another to fully understand this.


A feeling is a physical sensation in your body.


For simplicity’s sake, let’s create two categories of feelings, best explained with an example:

  1. when you stub your toe. You feel that in your toe as pain.
  2. when you react to stubbing your toe, such as anger at someone for placing an object in your way, you also feel that anger in your body.


So, whereas a feeling is a physical sensation – an emotion is the label we give to the latter description above, the reaction.


We, humans, have been able to label emotions quite accurately. If you think about ‘frustration’ – you know exactly what that feels like. Same with ‘revenge’, ‘pessimism’, ‘hope’ and ‘happiness’. These are all emotions that, when you name them, you know what they feel like.


All emotions fit onto a single scale, so I asked ChatGPT to help me come up with one from best to worst:

  1. Excitement/Freedom/Joy
  2. Passion
  3. Enthusiasm/Happiness
  4. Optimism
  5. Hopefulness
  6. Contentment
  7. Boredom
  8. Pessimism
  9. Frustration/Irritation/Impatience
  10. Overwhelm
  11. Disappointment
  12. Doubt
  13. Worry
  14. Blame
  15. Discouragement
  16. Anger
  17. Revenge
  18. Hatred/Rage/Jealousy
  19. Insecurity/Guilt/Unworthiness
  20. Fear/Grief/Despair/Powerlessness


Each one of these emotions has an associated physical sensation in our body. Anger is an easy example to locate because it’s so intense. Some are more subtle, but it is always there. I don’t consider ‘love’ an emotion. For me, love is a state of being. When you look carefully, it is an unemotional state.


So here is how it becomes practical:


  1. Think of the change you want to make that you feel resistant towards.
  2. Go through the emotional scale above and identify more or less where the resistance lands.


Determining the emotion associated with the resistance may be all that is needed to dissolve it. It gives you something to work with and address.


If awareness alone does not work, I’ll provide techniques that I have used interchangeably over the next three days that helped me dissolve the resistance.