Updated: Aug 27, 2021
What is all the resistance about?
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance. Resistance by definition is self-sabotage.” ― Steven Pressfield
“I write these words to bear witness to the primacy of resistance struggle in any situation of domination (even within family life); to the strength and power that emerges from sustained resistance and the profound conviction that these forces can be healing, can protect us from dehumanization and despair.”
― bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black
Resistance can be a powerful force for change in the world. It can just as easily be a force against change in your life. Any conversation about resistance must first address the distinction. Where conscious, intentional resistance is empowering and energy giving, the unconscious resistance that arises for many of us day to day is just the opposite. It drains our energy and our focus, and can stop us from fulfilling our dreams.
Why does resistance arise? Is it because of fear of success? Because of being over-worked and a neglect of self-care? Is it because of a gut feeling? The answer is personal and individual. Your experience of resistance is unique to you and driven by personal programming and history.
The answer to what to do about resistance is also personal. The inquiry about what drives your resistance will inform the answer.
Just this morning, we set out on a walk with Beatrice, our now 12-year old lab mix. After going just one block, she dug her heels in, letting us know she had no interest in going any further. And though I don’t know this for sure, I suspect Beatrice is tired from yesterday’s walk and knows her body well enough to not push past her limits. Luckily, she has parents who respect her resistance. In her case, her resistance served her well. What if you had parents that didn’t respect appropriate resistance? Parents who forced you to eat foods that make you sick? How would that inform your adult relationship with resistance?
While I can’t offer many answers, I can suggest a personal journey or inquiry into resistance. If, and only if, you don’t want resistance sabotaging your life you could try the following:
Set an intention to notice how much resistance arises daily- study it- does it arise more at home? At work? With kids? When you are beginning a project? Trying to complete a project? This step is just taking inventory.
Ask yourself- Why would I resist this? (and as best you can, don’t try and figure it out, let the answer arise when its ready)
Notice how resistance feels in your body- is it energy giving or draining?
Imagine no resistance- how would that feel in the body?
To overcome resistance (once you’ve decided it’s not serving you) try chunking down the task into 5 minute options (or 5 items, etc.)
Enjoy your journey into resistance. And if there’s too much resistance to resistance, just notice that!