For me resistance is a sign that I am standing on the edge of growth. It is like my ego, my critic, my shadow all want to keep me safe, contained, small. They throw up resistance, like a wall around my heart to prevent me from going for it, from taking that next step that would lead to transformation, to change, to growth, to evolution.
Resistance shows up in different ways. Over the years I have learned some of the signs that I am in resistance. I have learned that resistance is different for different experiences. Sometimes it shows up as anger, other times boredom, other times overwhelm, and more. It seems that my ego, my critic, my shadow creates resistance in such a way as to be most effective for that particular situation.
Resistance is different for everyone, but I’ll share some of mine so you can get in touch with yours.
During the course I just took, we did one exercise all day. I mean all day — the same exercise. The facilitators just kept saying, “do it again.” They were looking for something and it turns out they were looking for my resistance to arrive so I could learn to work through it, to not allow it to stop my creating and growth.
In this instance, resistance masked itself well at first — impatience to move on. I was like, “I’ve got this, what’s next?” Which over the next few repeats of the exercise became frustration, “Why am I having to do this over and over again when I can do it without stumbling?” Then it became self-blame/doubt, “What am I not getting? What am I doing wrong?” Over time, it became resignation, “Fine, I’ll just get through this…” I began to take numerous breaks so I had to do the exercise less often. I become extremely bored. My answers becomes rote.I felt flat inside.
Then the facilitator sat before me and said, “This is how you do life.” Well, that unleashed the final layer of resistance — rage! I know I have a temper that I keep to myself. Resistance uses my anger to shut me down when I get close to those inner truths that are hard to face; that if I work through I would shift into greater freedom.
What was my response? Resistance. “I have been doing this all day. Of course I’m bored. This is not how I do life.”
But, the truth is that these are all the ways I keep myself safe, contained, in my comfort zone. These are all the ways I sabotage myself from growth.
These resistance experiences get triggered in different ways, but when I feel them inwardly it is like I have preprogrammed to stop and walk away.
Resistance is sneaky. It speaks and communicates below our conscious awareness much of the time. It is a programming that we have created to keep ourselves safe. Then we consciously forgot it so we do not have to take responsibility for it. Now, it is holding us hostage.
With a bit more inner awareness, we can begin to identify it — “Oh, that is resistance.” Then we can make a conscious choice — is this resistance helping or inhibiting me?
For me, resistance is what echoes in the heart of the rich young man in Matthew 19. Remember the story — the young man asks Jesus what he needs to do to enter the Realm of God. Jesus answers to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor and he will have treasure in heaven. The rich young man walks away. Then the line about resistance, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…”
There it is. When we are in resistance this is very much the truth. Forcing oneself to do something that one is actively resisting is like shoving a came through the eye of a needle. It feels impossible!
Then the second part — “than for someone who is rich to enter the Realm of God.” Taking this as a metaphor for resistance, Jesus is suggesting that when we are in resistance we are not open to God’s call, to hearing and experiencing the movement of God, to participating freely in the Realm of God.
As we move forward in our work and desire to grow, we are all going to experience resistance, me included. So how do we work through it?
First and foremost, we recognize our inner resistance and acknowledge it to ourselves and to those we are working with. As a community, we offer the one in resistance compassion, love, grace, mercy, acceptance, and support.
This transformational moment offers a gentle container for exploring and releasing resistance. When one feels surrounded and supported by love, it is natural for our hearts to open. Once our hearts open, it is my experience that resistance is no longer in control. Spirit is! The one resisting can now make a conscious choice and transformation and growth are the invitation and reward (the treasure).
Let us love and support each other graciously as we move into growth and envisioning.