Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Demand Sensitivity and Demand Resistance

Demand Resistance - Is It Hurting Your Business?

by Mitch Meyerson

Over the last twenty years, I have seen many forms of self-sabotage. The following psychological concept is one of the more common, yet least identified patterns that holds people back from success.

Simply put, demand-resistance is a chronic negative response to obligations or expectations. It is almost always unconscious.

Here are some common examples:

  • You make daily lists of things to do, which you seldom complete.
  • Your stomach tightens when an "authority figure" makes a request of you.
  • Your spouse won't take out the garbage when you ask, but will on their own terms.
  • When someone says you "should" do something, you feel tense or uncomfortable.
  • Your coach suggests an "assignment" to complete one of your goals. Even though you want to accomplish the task, you unconsciously resist because you feel controlled.

Does this sound familiar for you or someone you know? If so, this probably is because you are "reactive" to being told what to do.

Ironically, when we resist requests from others we are usually the only one to suffer. For example, if you don't follow through an assignment from your boss, you may "win the battle" (not feeling controlled) but "lose the war (your job promotion). Still, you resent doing it and often are compelled to resist.

Controlling parents and teachers foster demand-resistance: “Take out the dog, now" "Clean your room.” “Didn’t you hear me? "Don't you listen!”


Demand resistance has its positives. By withholding what another requests of you, you assert your power. Others may stop making the demands and do things for you. You can also avoid doing things you’re afraid to do on principle, and avoid coming face to face with possible failure. In addition, you avoid having to engage in more active types of conflict, such as bluntly saying, “No, I won’t do it.”

“My sister’s like that!” one client told me. “When my mother issues orders like a commandant, I argue with her. My sister just says, “Sure, Mom. Okay, Mom.” But she never does what she promises and it doesn’t bother her.”


The costs of demand-resistance can be tremendous however. You may find yourself setting goals for business development and then sabotaging them, or making demands of yourself and resisting them. You get angry at yourself, but you can’t break the pattern.

You frustrate others and often sabotage personal and business relationships. Even activities you enjoy such as playing tennis or taking a class in jewelry making must be performed outstandingly or given up completely.

There is a solution. The more sure you are of yourself, the more you work on building a strong sense of who you are, the less you’ll feel vulnerable to being overrun by others or need to resist your goals just to prove a point.

Are You Demand-Resistant?

Count the statements that apply to you.

  • When you were younger did you procrastinate or “resist” finishing homework assignments at school?
  • Did your parents constantly tell you what to do and how to do it?
  • When someone asks you to do something, do you feel tense or resentful?
  • Do you have trouble with authority figures?
  • Do you have difficulty finishing tasks that are asked of you?
  • Do you make a to-do list and then never look at it the next day?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, there is an excellent chance that you have aspects of demand resistance.

Understand that you may habitually perceive tasks as demands. It is important to realize that your resistance places you in a reactive rather than proactive position with life.


Yeah I get that

And the obligation makes it a demand that I'm resisting, but I'm doing what it says to overcome it, and I'm not overcoming it.

My pile of books to be read is too huge to add another one onto at the moment (I got a load of new ones recently! :D ) but I'll definitely add it to my Someday/Maybe list.

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Readings a great procrastination tool

I used to read ridiuclous amounts of material, mostly pretty healthy, growth-oriented stuff. Sometime over the last year or so I realized that I was reading all this great, powerful, meaningful stuff...and not doing anything about it. I was too busy taking in new information.

Now, I just keep one book around and I understand it might take me a year to read, but I'm putting this stuff to work in my life. I don't even keep a someday/maybe reading list anymore. I know that when I'm ready for another book, there's always a good recommendation around. Everyone has a reading list, so I'll just use yours. One less thing for me to keep up with. I'll never get _everything_ read anyway.

I'm about ready for a new book, pro, this one sure sounds like something I could use. Keep us informed on what you're learning.

I don't read ridiculous amounts

I love reading - I love books -, and I don't do as much as I would like. When I'm reading a 'personal development' or 'spiritual' book I take my time over it so I can process it. My supervisor always laughs at me because I read a book and try out the advice, and lo! Very often the advice works! She says most of her clients put the book on their shelves, or read it and don't do anything with what they've read. I'd think that was a waste of time.

When I'm in a bum mood and can't think of anything I enjoy or anything I want to do, sometimes I browse my reading list, read the reviews on Amazon etc, and it lightens up my mood. It is one of my goals in life ~always~ to have something around I haven't read (I set this goal pre-internet BTW!). I once ran out of anything to read (when I was in the bedsit I talked about in another post), libraries were shut, and I was driving myself crazy. Despite the fact I was very poor, I used half my weekly wages on buying the Encyclopaedia Britannica on the never never so I'd never run out again.

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more on "Too Perfect"

I posted details on Demand Resistance at the top of this thread. I also posted a summary of "Too Perfect" in the Books section.

forum thread on demand resistance

confidence key

This is an excerpt from an article about the "six keys to creating the life you desire" by Mitch Meyerson and Laurie Ashner:

Competence -the Fourth Key

If you want a place in the sun, you must leave the shade of the family tree.
--Osage saying

Although there may be no direct cause and effect, there are two types of situations that appear to sap motivation early on. These are (1) overparenting, or having controlling parents who see their children as extensions of themselves, and (2) underparenting, or having neglectful or abusive parents.

If you find you can't move forward toward your goals, you may suffer from demand resistance and a subconscious sense of entitlement, caused from overparenting. For example, if you make daily lists of things to do, which you seldom complete, you are being demand resistant. You may be the only one who will suffer if you don't take your car in to be serviced, but you still resent doing it and never quite find time for it. These kinds of things occur because you hate being told what to do, even when you're the one giving the orders. Sometimes you avoid having to engage in active types of conflict, promising to do something but never following through on the promise. Withholding what another requests of you allows you to assert your power.

Some people who had neglectful or abusive parents are filled with panic because of the necessity of asserting themselves. The reason is that those people may have never had any support for taking such stands; consequently, they struggle with a lack of faith in their own beliefs.

It is important to understand that you may habitually perceive all tasks as demands, either on your time or your confidence. To create the success you want in life, it is essential that you disarm your demand resistance, so you can move freely toward achieving the goals you set for yourself.

more on demand resistance

There is a book called "Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control" that has a whole chapter on demand resistance.


Obsessives tend to be especially sensitive to demands, either real or imagined. This is called “’demand-resistance,’ a chronic and automatic negative inner response to the perception of pressure, expectations, or demands (from within or without.

passive resistance and demand resistance

Demand resistance is a form of passive resistance. Here's some more information I found:


If you notice the thread started here by the moderator ddee "ocpd definition, self help" she quotes from the excellent series of articles on the different personalities by Sharon Ekleberry to be found here:

In the ddee thread mentioned above, about OCPD she quotes:

"The essential conflict is between obedience and defiance. Behaviorally they are compliant; inwardly, they posses a strong desire to assert themselves and defy the regulations imposed upon them. Basically, individuals with OCPD consciously behave like the dependent personality disorder; unconsciously they feel like the antisocial personality disorder. As with the dependent personality disorder, people with OCPD incorporate the values of others and submerge their own individuality. However, inwardly, they are defiant, and the more they adapt the more they feel anger and resentment."

To sum up then, those with OCPD are "outwardly compliant, inwardly defiant", which is also a good summing up of PAPD. On my OCPD forum there have been a number of posts comparing OCPD to PAPD behavior and spouses characterizing the behavior of their OCPD husband/wife as "passive aggressive". Another common comparison they make is that both those with OCPD and PAPD suffer from "demand resistance", that is, they will passively resist demands by others or anything they perceive as a demand by others.

From near the top of the Ekleberry article on PAPD:

she writes that there is "one essential passive-aggressive trait [in PAPD] of resistance to external demands". In "Too Perfect", one of the best books out there on OCPD, Mallinger explains in chapter 5 "Demand-Sensitivity and Demand-Resistance" that as a hallmark of the disorder those with OCPD experience a "special sensitivity to perceived demands or expectations, and a negative inner response to these demands".


There's a lot of useful stuff here both for me and DSO to learn from. Hopefully, understanding it a bit more will help me to be less frustrated by it.

OCPD info:

PAPD info:

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