One way to define resistance is: “the refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument.” Oxford English Dictionary (emphasis added).
As a visual and physically-felt example of resistance, I think of the thick, colored rubbery resistance bands used in fitness classes. When wrapped around your upper thighs or arms, they force your muscles – especially your internal and external stabilizers – to work harder to maintain or expand your stance. A simpler example is the plain rubber band in your office or kitchen.
These types of resistance aid us. The workout bands help us strengthen and stabilize; our office rubber bands hold objects together or closed.
But the psychological resistance we experience hinders and may even prevent our ability to accept and change our minds, habits, and lives.
The more you resist change you know you need to make, the more difficult everything becomes.
What you resist persists.
- Carl Jung
The psychological resistance opposing acceptance typically manifests as internal (emotional and mental) and/or physical discomfort. Symptoms and signs could include physical exhaustion, mental fogginess, or chest or abdominal tension. Even though we sense or even know change is necessary, for example – that we must accept that something is not right for us – we refuse to accept that truth. We may actively oppose, ignore, or avoid accepting reality.
While teaching yoga recently, I guided the class through an intuition-connecting exercise. I shared that following our own internal wisdom can lead us to becoming our best selves. However, connecting with and then obeying our intuition is often uncomfortable because it inevitably requires moving through our natural resistance to change!
For more than a decade, I suffered the physical, mental, and emotional consequences of resisting change.
Not only did I resist, I repeatedly rejected and battled against making critical changes in many facets of my life, including my career, relationships, and health.
I was miserable. Resisting reality was exhausting.
Decreasing resistance helps...
While I would occasionally take a hiatus from my then-full-time legal career, I resisted fully embracing my truest calling: helping others improve their well-being. I’d feel relief, peace, and joy for a while working in my coaching capacity, but my reprieve would end when I succumbed to the insidious fear that repeatedly drove me back to another law firm, only to endure – once again – the all-too-familiar physical tension, internal turmoil, dread, and listlessness.
If my story sounds extreme to you, I’m glad you haven’t experienced that state, although I’d wager you’re resisting something – at least a little, so keep reading!
If you can relate, take comfort that you are not alone and that things can improve if you are willing to decrease your resistance and evaluate your situation.
Truly accepting and taking action required.
I finally began surrendering on my 40th birthday. I clearly remember asking myself: How will I feel if, a year from now, I’m still doing the same thing?
The answer: Hopeless.
Shortly thereafter, I began creating My Internal Weather.✨
Since then, I’ve learned, created, and employed numerous tools to clarify my own journey, help others along their own, recognize when I’m encountering resistance, and move towards acceptance.
I know today that my own internal resistance leads nowhere positive, and I need to face it head-on before the clouds get too dark.
Do I still resist change? Yes, and resistance is a natural part of the improvement cycle. The trick is not struggling in the quicksand of resistance.
Practical application: Becoming aware of resistance in your life
Bring awareness to your physical body throughout your day. Note your resting state, which hopefully carries peaceful energy, similar to your resting heart rate.
Throughout your day, note when you shift out of your resting physical state; these could be interactions with certain people, situations, locations, activities, or events where you feel less comfortable.
Get curious about your change in comfort level. What prompted the shift? This may be a point of resistance in your life.
Once you are aware of resistance, you have the opportunity to move towards acceptance.
Awareness is truly the first step towards change.
Let me know how it goes!
Questions, requests, or comments? I welcome them all! Contact me directly or schedule your Complimentary Clarity Call!