Since we’re all busy, let’s sum it up quickly in one catch all word.
Resistance to “what is.”
Let me explain.
Resistance is when we’re pushing back mentally, emotionally or spiritually to some aspect of life. Or many aspects of life, right? There can be so much to resist in our personal lives — how we feel, self-judgment, our bank accounts, chaos, clutter, relationships, whining, exhaustion, poor health, disease, responsibilities, and choices (too many or not enough). And, that’s before we start evaluating the outside world with horrific mass shootings, suffering and divisive politics. The lists are endless. Argh!
But stay with me, there is hope.
Let’s explore further.
What is resistance?
Resistance often shows up as a thought or judgment about what “should or shouldn’t be” or how someone “should or shouldn’t” behave. Resistance can show up as an icky emotion, like self-doubt, fear or overwhelm. Resistance can show up as the “something is off” when you aren’t fully connected to your best self.
Having lead lots of one day and multi-day events, and countless group coaching programs, I know talking about “resistance” often bring up resistance. Oy! It’s more helpful if we can objectively look at the many faces resistance, so we can see it for what it is and isn’t, and then gently learn to relax resistance.
So before we go any further, stop and take a deep breath. INHALE 1, 2, 3, 4 and H-O-L-D 1, 2, 3 and 4………and EXHALE (as you drop those shoulders). Let’s do that again….
Take a DEEP breath IN and
H-O-L-D 1, 2, 3 and 4………
and EXHALE (as you drop those shoulders).
Resistance shows up in many shapes and disguises. My clients have found it helpful to get super curious about the different flavors of resistance, especially when we’re “in it!”
* Worry is resisting a future that hasn’t happened (and may not happen).
* Overwhelm shows up when we’re resisting a single focus (letting go of competing demands momentarily).
* Control is also a form of resistance. When we fixate on control, we’re resisting uncertainty.
* Procrastination is resisting action or flow.
* Victimhood arises when we resist our power or resist taking full responsibility.
* Regret is resisting the past.
* Anxiety is resisting our ability to handle something.
* Anger is a strong resistance to what is.
* Depression often arises when we resist feeling our feeling fully.
* Attachment is resisting the potential of loss or alternative solutions.
* Minimizing self is resisting who we are, our strengths, accomplishments, gifts and abilities.
This is by no means a complete list. We could dive deeper into any one of these patterns of resistance, and explore other forms of resistance layered into these sticky emotions. I just want to get you thinking about resistance in a new way.
We can also resist the natural flow, self care, rest, good habits, great choices, asking for help, self-reflection, unmet expectations, deciding, slowing down, or seeing reality for what it is or isn’t. And, of course, we can resist all the same aspects in others.
Self Compassion is Key
Chances are, you relate to many, if not all of the forms of resistance named above. That’s what people share privately with me. That could feel deflating.
But, we’re all human. We all resist. In similar and different ways.
Instead of chastising yourself, be generous with self-compassion.
Is all resistance bad?
No. Resisting that chocolate cake, starting one more Netflix episode, or resisting screaming at a beloved…. are all more likely healthy choices supporting our overall inner peace, and others too!
Also, if we use resistance as a guiding nudge to keep us on track, determining the best “yes” or “no, or set clear boundaries, then it’s helpful resistance. It’s momentary. We get the guidance and respond.
However, when we dwell in resistance, the one thing we know for sure is we’re squashing the flow of inner peace, while feeding harmful emotions inside of ourselves.
Inner peace can’t thrive in resistance.
Tell me about a moment when inner peace is absence, and you and I will be able to find resistance lurking is some shape or form.
We might say that it’s impossible to not resist the awful things that have happened in our world lately, like the recent mass shootings in Parkland, FL and Las Vegas, NV and, and, and. Certainly in the moment, it always breaks my heart, often to tears, for the innocent lives lost and families forever affected.
But, let’s step back for a minute.
No matter how justified the resistance, if I dwell in resistance, it costs me dearly. If I remain sad or angry, replaying horrific scenes in my mind again and again, I cut off access to inner peace. My health is compromised. I’m less productive and focused. I feel awful. And, I notice, it doesn’t bring back lives.
This is true for everyone who is living in resistance, including you.
How can we relax resistance?
I promised you hope. We don’t have to live in a constant state of resistance. And when resistance arises, and it will, we can learn to relax it.
First we have to become aware of the resistance.
We can notice contraction of some kind — unpleasant feelings, annoying thoughts, tightness in the body.
Invite more breathing.
Invite more presence.
Invite intention to relax resistance.
Awareness itself connects us to the part of us that is inherently at peace. It allows us to loosen the grip. Awareness is your gateway to inner peace. So is compassion.
Relaxing resistance takes practice.
Yoga is an excellent place to practice relaxing resistance, physically, mentally and emotionally. Since it offers a physical metaphor, let’s start here.
I’m always surprised by how much resistance is stored within my body, even when I feel relatively balanced. And I’m always surprised at how the body relaxes to the invitation to relax resistance. But, with intention, the body, mind and spirit respond.
I notice the tightness. I breathe. The body relaxes into the uncomfortable stretch. I notice the fear of letting go. I breathe. The scary feelings diminish, the muscles let go a bit more. I surrender. I breathe. I keep fueling the intention to relax resistance. And miraculously, more spaciousness arises.
And as you relax and surrender,
you experience what rests behind the resistance.
We can bring these principles to any moment we’ve habitually resisted.
Think of a moment that instinctively invites resistance, perhaps a partner’s heavy sigh indicating disapproval, a child’s whining, another person’s rudeness, criticism from a loved one, traffic, being on hold with customer service, sitting in the dentist’s chair, disappointment, big emotions, a button pushing social media post, or the judgmental moment looking in the mirror.
The resistance may be subtle or ginormous, but it’s easier to start with smaller triggers.
Find ONE point of resistance.
Practice consciously relaxing resistance.
You’ll likely surprise yourself with how much resistance you can calm by simply inviting awareness, curiosity, compassion and the intention to relax. And, in many cases, it’ll take longer to genuine diffuse a trigger.
I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts about resistance below.
Additional resources to relax resistance…
Relaxing resistance is a huge conversation. But remember, just becoming aware of resistance, turning on self-compassion and having the intention to relax it, is powerful! It may be all you need.
When resistance is stifling and thick, there are likely many things you’re resisting simultaneously. I can relate.
After spending 6 days with my Mom in hospice 2 weeks ago, knowing she’s nearing the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease, having lots of emotions to process and/or repress, and lots of “catch up” work in managing my business and household, my nervous system was frazzled.
What worked to relax resistance? I used the 6 questions in my Inner Peace Reality Check process to address this emotional traffic jam. These questions helped me identify the competing facets of resistance, and miraculously allowed me to reconnect with my flow.
These questions can help you find calm in minutes too.
I talk about these life changing questions in a recent interview I did with the fabulous Michele PW. Follow the links in her podcast, and download my free gifts, which include a PDF of the Inner Peace Reality Check questions.
Align Your Life with Inner Peace.
In this episode, Michele interviews Mary Allen, life and business coach, and widely known as “America’s Inner Peace Coach.” Mary works with individuals to breathe easier and live happier, all while accelerating the process of achieving their most desired goals. Here, she shares her evolution from a “Type-A” personality to working 60 hours a week while constantly operating from a “1,000 miles per hour” mindset to a calm, centered entrepreneur who has perfected the balance between peace and success.
In this episode, you learn:
- How to identify areas of resistance in your life, and tackle them with inner peace (yes, it’s possible!).
- How to energetically create space for that which you wish to receive (no matter how impossible it seems).
- Ways to get clear on your life and/or business vision, be at peace with that vision, and align your life with it.
- How to live in the moment with five proven, essential keys to staying present.
- And so much more.
Mary also talks about the mindset so many people have around money—that earning a lot of money and having inner peace are two completely unrelated things, when really, they can be one in the same. In fact, Mary did the work it took to balance her home and business life, and now she teaches clients to do the same … to find their “sweet spot,” and live in alignment with it.