Five Red Flags of Resistance and Why Resistance Keeps You Stuck

used with permission from Marlene Chism

Your boss doesn’t listen to your ideas. Your spouse refuses to try to understand. Your employees resist your leadership, and secretly you know you keep doing things you don’t really want to do but you feel stuck and don’t know how to tip the lever to change. What we are talking about is resistance.

Until you are trained, resistance is nearly impossible to spot because often it can be subtle. Good listening is one way to uncovering resistance in yourself and others. Why should you care? If you want to shift your current circumstances you can do so more quickly if you can spot the pockets of resistance. If you lead others, knowing where there is resistance will help you to coach that person toward positive change. There are many signs that a person is in resistance. In this checklist here are five of them

1. Justification
2. Know it all
3. Need for Approval
4. Living out of the zone
5. Complaining

Justification is a fancy word for excuses. Listen for the words, “but and can’t” and you will uncover pockets of resistance. I can’t do it: it’s too difficult, or “I would but I don’t have enough money.” Until a person stops making excuses, there is no room for positive action.

Know it all
A blocked mindset or stubborn resistance shows up in strong opinions and superiority such as, “I already know that is what he will say,” or “That will never happen.” Until a person is willing to consider another possible reality you will have a lot of energy spent on resisting your ideas or your leadership.

Need for approval
Most people never truly grow out of their need for agreement and approval. The result is procrastination or endless surveying of others in the form of “what do you think I should do?” This type of resistance paralyzes people in fear because they are afraid of making the wrong decision or making someone angry. It’s good to get other insights and opinions but needing approval is another way to avoid criticism as well as a way to avoid personal responsibility.

Living out of the zone
One sure sign of resistance is living so far into the future or too far into the past. If on a number line negative ten represents the past and positive ten represents the future, the zone, or the present moment is somewhere between negative 2 and positive 2, or learning from the past and planning for the future. Anything beyond that is resistance to the only power you really have which is the now. Living for the future is a way to resist the present moment by believing that once the future arrives, relief will come. “Once I get the raise, once the economy gets better, once I lose the weight, and meet the right partner then…” The other form of resistance is living in the past, either talking about glory days or regretting past mistakes. The way out of resistance is to live in the present.

Any form of negativity is resistance and a big time waster. Instead of doing the one thing to promote positive change, time is spent focusing on what is not working, what is unacceptable, how someone done someone wrong, how things should have been, what might have been, what opportunity was missed and how unfair it all is. Until one accepts the present situation, the “leak in the boat” continues to expand and worsen the situation.

Marlene Chism is the author of Stop Workplace Drama and is the founder of the Stop Your Drama Methodology. To learn more about how to release resistance go to  



Video Resources

Are You It Resources Effective In The New Normal


Are Your IT Resources Effective in the New Normal?

Align2020 A Virtual Conference


Align 2020
Cyber Security, Compliance & Collaboration

Best Practices For Working In A Modern, Mobile, And Secure Environment


Best Practices for Working in a Modern, Mobile, and Secure Environment