No matter what you are trying to accomplish in your life, there will always be resistance. There was a very long stretch when I couldn’t seem to do anything. I was stuck in resistance.
Resistance can look different to different people.
Sometimes it will show up as not wanting to do something, or not feeling like doing something. It can also show up as procrastination, or it can show up as perfectionism. It can also show up as doing something else instead of what you are supposed to be doing. Resistance can also show up as disdain for something. It can also show up as resisting what is to the point of not accepting that it is happening.
Resistance shows up in so many ways. I’ve often heard the phrase “what we resist, persists.” The thing we resist about ourselves or our life is the thing that keeps coming back over and over again. It’s a big red flag that there is a lack of acceptance. When resistance shows up, we are holding on to the self that we are familiar with and that identity of who we think we are.
Resistance to changing the food that we eat is one great example. For years, I said, “I just can’t give up cheese. I need it to balance my blood sugar.” I had an identity as someone who ate and loved cheese.
When it came down to the health of my children though (both were allergic to cows milk), I was able to kick that resistance and the image of who I was to the curb. It was easy to suddenly not eat cheese – because it wasn’t about me any longer. It was something bigger than me. Suddenly, I felt WAY better than ever did. Years later, I found out I had an allergy to dairy. It took my boys needing my help for me to give help to myself.
I see this with my clients often. The resistance to the way “I am” or “where i come from” or “It’s just how I am” is subtle.
Resistance can also be to the way we move our bodies. ” don’t feel like it.” “I don’t feel like exercising today.” “I just don’t want to.” So often, we listen to that little voice of “I don’t want to” and we don’t realize that it isn’t ours. This is the voice that wants you to stay small, and who wants you to be unhealthy.
It sounds funny to say there is a part of you that wants to hold you back, but this is absolutely my experience. It is safe in the familiar, even if that safety means dealing with not feeling well and being stuck.
This happens at work, or in business, or in applying for jobs. There is a desire to, and then there is resistance. Resistance to filling out the application, to asking for the raise, to leaving the position, resistance to writing the book, or asking for the sale. It goes back to resisting the person we want to become; or resisting something underneath: fear that if I take that position it will mean I am not the type of mother I want to be.
Resistance is everywhere.
And it’s so sneaky! We want to believe that we need to listen to that voice as the voice of reason. It can look like skipping or canceling the therapy appointment, or forgetting to schedule the appointment with the trainer. Resistance can even feel comfortable, because sometimes trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone feels uncomfortable. When we resist something new, sometimes it’s just the resistance of stretching and growing our comfort zone.
Often people think by resisting something it will make it go away. Or, at the very least, we are supposed to resist it if we don’t like it. If I just resist this hard enough it will disappear! Or move far away from me!
When I talk to my students they often think that accepting something somehow means giving up, or worse, that they LIKE it.
So what’s the antidote to this pervasive resistance that we all have in our lives?
Acceptance and self-compassion. Then “I don’t want to” can be viewed with compassion. For example, “oh there is a part of me that is resisting this right now. Accept her in. Feel it in the body. What color is it? What shape? How does it feel when you just sit right down with it and put your arm around that resistance? Yep, I’m resisting it.”
Then notice: What’s the conversation? Why is the resistance there? Is there fear of becoming what I’ve always wanted? Is it the critical voice in my head telling me that I can’t? What’s the story around it? Sit with it and welcome it in with pure acceptance. Accept resistance. Accept what is in the world. Yes, these things are happening around me. Yes, I don’t like them and yet they are still happening.
And then bring compassion to the part of you that wants to change. The part of you that decided that exercising was a good idea, or that part of you that wants to feel better and wants to eat differently. “Yes honey, I know you don’t feel like it and I love you so much we are going to do it together.” “Or oh sweetie, I know this is hard, what will make it better? A little music while you clean the house?”
And yes, there are absolutely times when you can let go of the need to be perfectionistic. Perhaps you are someone that always pushes through no matter what, and you resist rest and stillness. Your work might be in letting go of the resistance to keep moving. What if you allowed yourself the opportunity to accept that you deserve rest too?
There is no right or wrong when it comes to how to deal with situations, It all comes down to: how can i accept what is with as much compassion and kindness as possible? “I love you exactly as you are, and I’ll help you be whoever you want to be” is the perfect phrase for this.
I encourage you to notice where there is resistance in your life. Notice where it shows up, notice how it feels in your body, and see if you can bring even just a tiny bit of acceptance to yourself or another situation today.