We’ve all felt Resistance: that sinking pit in the stomach, the cold stone that drags in our heart, the mental pressure to “Run Away!” It can appear in various forms to different people. It can sap our strength and even cause us to do a complete U-turn on a goal, drop the ‘ball’ or give up something for which we’d held so much excitement and enthusiasm only a few moments or days before.
“There were significant times when I made decisions based on my reaction to the resistance I felt to what life was bringing me, which meant I missed opportunities to receive and grow along the way.”
I hope this article is insightful for you. I encourage you to participate with this article too, as at the end I have left spaces for you to fill in your own experiences. I figure, the more we’re aware of our own resistance, the more we can free ourselves of it. Aannsha August 2017
I’m writing from experience. When I was younger, I often walked out of jobs when they got too boring. I left relationships when they got too hurtful. I discontinued courses when they got too hard.
That left me with a string of experiences that I saw as Failures and then translated to myself. I became a Failure in my own mind. This of course made it more difficult to commit to anything or anyone as I went through life, just in case it happened again. I became a self-fulfilling prophecy. There have been times in the past when I’ve wanted to start a project but when I considered previous failures (often in more of a feeling way than a thinking way), I immediately decided “It’s too hard” and did not even begin.
Of course, I didn’t always completely abandon myself, nor was this in every area of my life all of the time. But there were significant times when I made decisions based on my reaction to the resistance I felt to what life was bringing me, which meant I missed opportunities to receive and grow along the way.
In no small part therefore, I’m writing this article so that if you’re reading this and find it is useful to you and helps you move through Resistance to achieve your own goals, then my own ‘failures’ have served a good purpose.
So what is Big R all about? Why does it turn up? And importantly, what can I do about it?
What’s strange about it is that the Big R – as I choose to call it – often turns up when we least expect it and can appear even when we’re on a path of adventure that we’ve chosen. We’re trucking along the path of life, either towards a goal, or simply going through the regular daily grind when Bam! Big R hits us full frontal as if a craggy mountain has slammed ominous and impenetrable – seemingly out of nowhere onto our path and blocks our way. It seems to sap our strength, test our resolve and challenge our self-confidence. (Sometimes it can sneak up on us slowly too).
We’re so busy reacting to the feelings we feel about Big R, that we often don’t consider that it can be actually overcome, or that it might even be promising a breakthrough.
As I see it in this example, Big R can be split into two broad categories:
- Resistance to doing something
- Resistance to a situation/circumstance
Okay there may not seem to be too much of a difference here, but I’m going to focus on the first one for this article.
Resistance to doing something:
This is where you have chosen a goal and are taking the steps towards the outcome when all of a sudden it all gets Too Hard, Too Scary, Too Difficult, Too Boring, Too Expensive, Too Confusing. I’ll call it Too X for ease.
Once it becomes Too X, depending on our personality and past programming, we go into reactive mode which has a few, possibly instantaneously occurring stages. This may look something like this:
- Moving towards our Goal (possibly excited with the potential for new experiences)
- Big R: Mountain (the obstacle appears)
- Physical reaction to Big R (often felt as a physical sensation – Sick in stomach/Heavy heart/Sinking feeling/Lethargy)
- Mental reaction to Big R (starts as self-talk that you may not be aware of: “I can’t do this”, “It’s too hard” etc)
- Emotional Reaction to Big R – (Fed by self-talk – emotions of fear, panic, anxiety, overwhelm, feeling trapped, can occur)
- Not wanting to feel the feelings (physical or emotional) which to my mind seems to be at the root of A LOT of our issues, you go into full blown Avoidance Action. (You pull out, walk away, call it off, drop the ball).
- This action is often accompanied by all of the ‘very logical and plausible’ reasons why you shouldn’t be continuing towards your goal. You may even seek people out to tell your story to and gain their approval or confirmation that what you’re doing is the “right thing for you”. Recognise any of the following reasons. Maybe a friend’s talked to you about theirs?
“My head’s just not in the right space right now.”
“It really doesn’t feel right for me at the moment.”
“I think I’m allergic to green vegetables.”
“I know I said he was the one, but I can’t stand to be in the same room as him anymore.”
“I don’t think I’ve chosen the right course. I think I should have chosen the other one.”
It feels like if I stay with Big R, I’ll Die!
Anything to keep you from facing that mountain right? Feeling those feelings. After all, they spell out D.E.A.T.H. don’t they? Think about your self-talk, or thoughts around the issue. Do they sometimes go along the lines of:
“Oh my god, if I see that person one more time, I’ll die.”
“If I have to sit through another lesson, I’ll just die.”
“If I do another day in that boring job, I will die of boredom.”
Or it may be less dramatic, as we explored in point 7 above.
“But let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. Supposing those feelings DO spell out death. What death? My death? NO! What about death of a part of you that is limiting, outworn, restrictive, unreal?”
Supposing that resistance you’ve been feeling has LESS to do with the MOUNTAIN, and MORE to do with YOU?
Supposing the Big R is FREEDOM in disguise?
Maybe this isn’t about freedom from the obstacle. Maybe what you’re experiencing is the EDGE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. The comfort zone is the place that you haven’t gone beyond yet. It keeps you safe. It’s cozy. It’s known.
But it’s BORING!
Of course it’s boring, otherwise you wouldn’t be heading out for that goal would you? That goal is beyond you. You’re reaching towards it. Studying for it. Working for it. Relating with someone for it. Whether it’s an accolade, a certificate, a wage increase, love from that special someone, IN ENERGETIC TERMS IT IS ALL THE SAME.
When you’re making your way to your freedom, love, prosperity, or health – whatever you’re drawn to, there will be a point in your journey beyond which you have never been. It is unknown to you, yet it is where your goal lies. Yet it wouldn’t be a worthy goal if it wasn’t beyond your current boundaries would it?
However, as we move through life towards our goals – large or modest – our mind has the expectation that it will be all fun, easy, simple, comfortable, safe, and any effort will be effortless. (What are your expectations? Complete point 8 below if you’d like). Basically, our mind likes to imagine that our journey is going to be calm sailing, the road will be smooth and everything will be easy. Yet, the reality doesn’t always pan out like that does it? I know, that sucks. But as I said above, if we were aiming at something that was easy, it wouldn’t be worthwhile. If you want to be a chef but only want to learn how to boil eggs, you won’t get many patrons in your restaurant will you? Boiling eggs is easy. Learning to make a soufflé takes an increase in knowledge, and practice. Realistically, you’re probably going to get some flat soufflés before you make the perfect one. You may burn yourself. You may drop your eggs. Your teacher may not have a personality you get on with. You may find that while you can actually beat the eggs, learning about the history of soufflé making is a bit difficult.
We are all made differently and what one finds challenging will be a breeze for someone else. Just because Jo Blow can conjure up a multi-million dollar business deal, doesn’t mean he can articulate his feelings to his loved ones. But that doesn’t make him a failure. It doesn’t mean he needs to quit when things get tough. It may be showing him he would benefit from learning to feel safe expressing his feelings.
Just because everyone else in class seems to be sailing through the theory doesn’t mean you’re a failure because you’re struggling. You may be more suited to practical and run rings around everyone else. You may just need to take more time at home reading the theory.
“Thing is, if you don’t stick around long enough to take the rough with the smooth, you’ll never know.”
And coming back to my point of the Big R being FREEDOM in disguise. What is it that you want to feel from your goal? (See point 9). Success, achievement, love, abundance, a sense of freedom?
“When you get close to your goal, you’re going to be right on the edge of your comfort zone. The zone between what’s known by YOU NOW and the you that you CAN BE.”
So what’s the DEATH that leads to FREEDOM?
If you keep going towards your goal, one step at a time, one day at a time, one breath at a time, you will arrive at the boundary between WHO YOU ARE NOW and WHO YOU WANT TO BE.
The boundary is the place that, once you step beyond it you have GROWN.
The boundary contains all that you are now. Everything you know and love and maybe, if you’re honest with yourself, are a little bit bored by.
The boundary is also scary. Why?
Because it is where all of your fears that keep you within it, show up. All of your self-talk, your fears, your what-ifs and maybes. Everything that has ever kept you in place, everything that has ever caused you to ‘Fail’, everything that has ever made you throw it in, walk away or quit is held within that boundary.
“This is what will die. Something that has been keeping you small.”
So what are you going to do?
Yes you can turn back. Yes you can quit (again). Yes you can fall in a quivering heap. OR…
“You can stay present with yourself, focus on your breathing, and take one step, one day, one lesson, one conversation, one fragile, beautifully VULNERABLE action at a time and make your way through the Boundary.
Because it is just a veil. It isn’t real.”
I’ll say that again because it’s important: You can stay present with yourself, focus on your breathing, and take one step, one day, one lesson, one conversation, one fragile, beautifully VULNERABLE action at a time and make your way through the Boundary.
Because it is just a veil. It isn’t real. The boundary is made up of smoke and mirrors laid down by your past through things you heard, decisions you made, beliefs you formed and fears you trapped in your body.
If you are still reading this, you are ready to go beyond your boundary.
You are ready to look at BIG R in the face and say “BRING IT ON! I CAN DO THIS!”
So what can you do to support yourself next time Big R shows up?
There are several things you can do to ensure that when Big R shows up again (and it will!) that you are prepared. (See point 10 to make a support plan). Instead of going into avoidance you can actually choose to support yourself by learning to become present with what’s going on within. Becoming aware of your thoughts and choosing to replace them is one thing, but the biggest challenge is often staying present when you’re feeling those difficult, strong, emotions. I’m suggesting that you could choose to begin to feel kindly to yourself, for that self that is suffering, or feeling guilty, or wanting to run away, is often like a small child who doesn’t know how to cope. So, answer this question.
- Would you beat a child for feeling scared, or would you nurture them?
You would be kind wouldn’t you? So how are you treating your inner child? If you find you’re harsher with your inner self than you would be with another person, then perhaps you could take some action to nurture yourself.
You can choose to change your self-talk from something that sabotages your efforts, to one that supports you. Instead of “I can’t do this”, I chose to say, “It’s okay, you can do this.” (Point 10.a)
Instead of pushing myself harshly into situations without acknowledging how I really felt about it, I learned to gently pat my chest with my hand in a “there, there” gesture. (Point 10.b) I would do this as I said to myself, “It’s okay; you can do this.” I physically stayed present with my fear.
Another way of supporting yourself is to find a buddy who will be both supportive and also accountable. A mother bear type figure. You know, the one who will love you while taking you warmly by the hand and gently leading you along your path. Someone who can see the strength in you when all you can feel is sapping cold blue fear. Someone who can act as a loving pillar of strength when you feel wobbly-knees weak. I’ve learned to use my words and tell my partner if I’m feeling scared. He gives me a hug and asks me how I’m going to move forward (which for him is going beyond his own boundary). (Point 10.c)
I have found that this understanding and these simple steps have been invaluable for me in moving towards my goals. Yes there are times I fall down and I am learning not to beat myself up, feel guilty, and quit because “I’m a failure”, as that’s just a more subtle way of Big R doing a number on me!
So if you find you relate to what you’ve read, you may like to support yourself from now on, perhaps by completing the following work sheet. Do let me know if you’ve found this useful.
WORK OUT YOUR RESISTANCE FOR YOURSELF and REALLY SET YOURSELF FREE!
- Moving towards Goal
- Big R: Mountain (the obstacle appears) What does your obstacle look like? ________________________________________________________________
- Physical reaction to Big R (Often felt as a physical sensation – Sick in stomach/Heavy heart/Sinking feeling/Lethargy) What are your sensations: ___________________________________________________________________
- Mental reaction to Big R (Starts as self-talk you may not be aware of: “I can’t do this”, “It’s too hard”. What is your self-talk? “___________________________________________________________________”
- Emotional Reaction to Big R – (Fed by self-talk – emotions of fear, panic, anxiety, overwhelm, feeling trapped, can occur.) What are your emotions? ____________________________________________________________________
- Not wanting to feel the feelings (physical or emotional) you pull out, walk away, call it off, drop the ball, over eat, over shop, over drink, too much Facebook etc. What do you do? _____________________________________________________________________
- This action is often accompanied by all of the ‘very logical and plausible’ reasons why you shouldn’t be continuing towards your goal. What do you say? “ _____________________________________________________________________”
- What are your expectations of how your journey to your goal should be? _____________________________________________________________________
- What do you want to feel when you get your goal? _____________________________________________________________________
- What can you do to support yourself when Big R shows up?
- Self-talk: ______________________________________________________
- Action: _______________________________________________________
- Support/accountable buddy: _____________________________________
Other thoughts/ideas/love-notes to yourself: