It is the resistance to change, not the change itself, that is painful.
The first step is awareness, the second is acceptance.
Last week at my regular Quaker meeting I was thinking about resistance. Resistance is something I’ve realised I experience in every single area of my life in small ways and big, from exercise to decluttering, career building to creative expression, sometimes to even going out with friends. In fact, the time I think resistance is at its lowest is when I’m curled up on my sofa keeping warm under a blanket. Ultimately, this Resistance is a resistance towards change of any kind.
However it’s shown up, this resistance hasn’t been inherently bad; but my judgement of the resistance has left me feeling uneasy – irritated and angry with myself, guilty that I wasn’t doing the useful and good things that would ultimately make my life better, fraudulent – after all, my job is to help people communicate with their inner resistance and overcome it! So how could I have so obviously ignored the resistance in my own life?
Resistance has a voice
I spoke with Resistance.
“Why are you here?”
“You know why I’m here.”
“That’s true. I take that back. You always offer safety and protection. How can we move forwards when you’re around?” (it isn’t unusual for me to refer to myself as ‘we’.)
It turns out Resistance was surprisingly supportive.
“Well, we need desire, excitement and curiosity.”
“Is that it?”
“Yes. Do what you desire, what you really want to do. If you don’t like what you’re doing, try to bring excitement to what you are doing. If you don’t like what you’re doing or getting into a state of excitement is hard, if you’re fearful or anxious, then be curious. Be curious about what’s going on, about what could happen, about how you could feel…”
Desire. Excitement. Curiosity. I repeated these three words, then I added a forth: Love.
Synonymous with truth, love is your soul’s song, that which your heart is calling you to do, even when your head says otherwise.
Interestingly, since my conversation with Resistance I’ve been:
a) more aware of when Resistance is showing up.
b) more accepting of Resistance: allowing it to exist, not expecting it to be different and not expecting it to not be there. *(note: this is not the same as expecting it to be there.)
c) more accepting of myself: not judging myself for feeling resistant.
d) more motivated to do those things I’ve been putting off.
Without forcing it, I cleaned the bathroom tiles, put my summer clothes in the loft and stopped procrastinating over tidying up. I finally sent the emails I had been putting off and finally took that bag of unwanted items to the charity shop. I’ve been learning to like these things that feel like chores. Although maybe what I’ve really been learning to like is completing them or doing them in spite of Resistance. When I’ve needed some help, I’ve found a way to put myself in a more useful state, something akin to excitement or energy, often with the help of music. When actions have had more complex emotions attached, when I’ve felt afraid, I’ve allowed curiosity to step forwards.
I’m choosing not to fight Resistance now. Instead, I see it, I acknowledge it and I remind myself of the way forwards. I’m allowing myself to Be and looking at myself kindly when I feel Resistance stepping in.
It’s become apparent that there’s so much I’ve been putting off as a result of Resistance that I now have a mental list of things I COULD do if I felt so inclined…
And instead of coming from guilt and irritation, I can now do them from a new space of desire, excitement, curiosity and/or love.
Just like us, Resistance just wants is to be seen and acknowledged with love.
*Not expecting something to not be there is different from expecting something to be there. The former is accepting of what is. Eg. I’m not expecting anything to be or not be a particular way. In this case, we are accepting that resistance might be present and we are recognising that that is ok, however, we are not attached to resistance definitely being present. The latter, is based on expectation and therefore we are potentially steering only one possible outcome. Eg. “I am expecting to feel resistance” gives little space for us to feel anything else!
If anything in this post has resonated, touched you or triggered something for you in any way, please feel free to get in touch and share you experience by contacting me here.
Also published on Medium.