I had to take my geriatric cat to the vet. He doesn’t like being there and surprised me by being unusually docile when the assistant weighed him and took his temperature. He remained reasonably good-natured during the long wait for the Vet. When she got into the room, though, everything changed.
This 15 year old feline, who has lost all but one of his teeth and about a third of his body weight, escaped the clutches of the assistant and made it to the door. There, he fought all attempts to catch him and get him back on the exam table. He hissed. He spat. He swatted. He howled. They could hear him down the block! It took two strong people, one in elbow-length protective gloves and the other with a big towel, to catch this sick old man and get him on the table. The assistant had to use her whole body to pin him down long enough for the Vet to draw blood.
Then, it took the two of them four minutes to wrestle him into his carrier so that I could take him home. No one was going to tell him what to do!
So what does this have to do with personal change in humans? I was speaking to a fellow coach in one of a series of conversations about people resisting moving forward. As we spoke about clients and resistance the image of that cat, huddled in the corner, willing to kill anyone who tried to move him, came to mind. I thought about clients who fought kicking and screaming and what it took to get a little motion.
How fiercely we can fight to maintain the status quo. Even when resistance become futile and the effort is exhausting, we continue to fight change. And how exhausting for anyone trying to help!
Next time a wonderful opportunity comes your way, try a technique from anger management. Stop and breathe. Before you begin spitting and hissing and lunging at the opportunity, stop and wait for your heart and head to get in sync. Reach out – however tentatively. Explore a bit. You still have time to recoil or regroup or do whatever you need, but consider that sometimes it’s better to come out of your corner fighting to move forward than to fight to remain in place.