Resistance. We all know it.
We’ve all experienced it.
Something happens that just isn’t the way we want it to be. Personally, I became very acquainted with its many flavors by going through the process of getting divorced. Despite the decision being amicable, mutual, and respectful, I was rocked by the loss.
The experience taught me that resistance was not an end point in time. Rather, I found myself moving back and forth along the continuum from internal resistance to acceptance.
At the lowest level, resistance may look like wishing things were different. We tell ourselves we’re having the wrong experience, or that this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. The resistance may escalate to different modes of distraction. We might try to ignore the issue, skip over the associated emotions, or employ avoidance strategies like over scheduling.
As resistance continues, we might feel ourselves armoring up to defend against the issue, digging in our heels, going into self-protection mode or doing anything to increase the distance between ourselves and the thing we’re resisting. The full-out expression of resistance is to completely check out, going into denial or using other unconscious behavior such as drugs, alcohol, or food to numb our awareness.
The thing is, each of these moves further entrenches us, taking up massive amounts of energy to keep at bay something that has already occurred. This doesn’t seem apparent to us when we are caught in the grip of fear.
How do we catch ourselves in the act of resisting so we can move back into flowing with life? How do we liberate our energy so we can spend our time creating what we want? Here are six steps to reducing resistance.
1. Get aware of the body sensations that accompany resistance.
Energetically, resistance is a contracted state, so start to cultivate an awareness of accompanying body sensations. We can begin to notice signs such as tensing our muscles, feeling our breath get shallow, or tightening our stomach. Use our breath to help loosen the contraction, and get our bodies moving. Nothing says “peace out resistance” like a five-minute dance party.
2. Get curious.
Life happens. When we meet change with curiosity, we set the stage for new ways of seeing the issue we were resisting. Ask yourself: what door is closing and which one is opening? How might this event be helpful for me in the larger scheme of things? Am I willing to see this differently? Follow our inner Albert Einstein and get passionately curious.
3. Be with the issue.
Let’s say there’s a change in our role at work, and we’ll have less time to do something we really enjoy. Just let ourselves be with that. Don’t push away the feelings. Disappointment could be our soul’s call for expressing something deeper. Perhaps it’s an invitation to acknowledge that aspect of ourselves and to find other ways to engage in that experience.
4. Turn toward what’s happening.
This is where we cultivate our ability to face the issue without shrinking. Look deeply at what’s happening and ask ourselves how we can make it work for us. If our partner’s job relocates and we are moving to a place we never thought we’d live, turning toward the experience might be asking how this is an opportunity. Is there anything about this change that excites us?
5. Accept it.
This is a huge move to neutralize resistance. Everything changes when we have the courage to love what is, exactly as it is. This is my personal favorite. I have experienced the life-altering power of this move and have seen how a huge wave of energy was released—previously tied up in fighting against reality—and able to go toward creating a new positive experience.
6. Show willingness to learn.
What are we learning—about ourselves, our loved ones, about life—as a result of this experience? Are we willing to see the issue as a teacher? This is an opportunity to explore how the issue may be of service to our growth and highest good.
Change is inevitable. The sooner we make friends with and use tools to dissolve resistance, the easier it will be to experience life with more joy, more energy, and more love.
The beautiful thing about being human is that we always have a choice. Moving from resistance to flow is a series of choices along a continuum. To achieve mastery of anything takes practice.
The more we practice, the less we identify with the changeable and the more we live in our essence, that innate ability to flow with the current of life.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Flickr / Frédéric BISSON