Resistance – It’s Futile to Resist It

Procrastinator's Meeting PostponedYou’re all set. You have what you need. Your computer, your iPod, your crayons…all the supplies you could want. You’re ready to create something new for your coaching business (or just create, in general). You’re ready to settle in and practice a mind-body skill. You’re ready to feel an emotion. Whatever it is you have planned, now is the moment to do it.

All right. Ready to go. Planning to start any minute now.

Or, maybe in a few minutes, after you check Facebook. Or read one more email. Or finish one more housekeeping task.

Oh my gosh! You just remembered that closet in your basement you were going to re-organize. Better get that done first.

You have just run smack into Resistance, a good friend of mine.

Resistance shows up frequently in my life. In the past, I used to berate myself anytime resistance stopped by. I’d say things to myself like this:

  • But if you would just do this, it would be over.
  • Why can’t you just hurry up and do it?
  • You suck.
  • You should not be resisting this! It’s good for you/fun/something you should do!

I used to battle resistance. It was a futile battle, I might add. I read self-help articles that talked about “overcoming resistance” and “getting rid of resistance.” Yet, whatever I did, resistance still showed up. I thought I was just procrastinating out of laziness, silly fear, or other such ridiculousness.

Then, as I developed my mind-body skills, I began to see resistance differently. Because, if you believe, as I do, that everything shows up to give you a message, then resistance must be here for the very same reason.

Instead of fighting with resistance, I started asking it how it was here to help me.

Here is what resistance said:

  • You’re trying to do too much at once.
  • This is overwhelming. Planning a whole afternoon of creating feels hard.
  • Tone it down – how about just 10 minutes of mind-body practice?
  • There’s no need to hurry or do so much at once.
  • Please put less pressure on yourself about this goal/activity/idea.

Wow. Resistance is actually pretty smart. And friendly.

It turns out resistance was here to save me from myself – or at least the part of me that always pushes too hard, pressures herself, and sets impossible standards.

I started talking to my clients’ resistance, too. Often, it had very similar messages for them. The details were different, but the general message was pretty much the same. I’ve distilled it into two easy-to-remember sentences. Resistance shows up to tell us:

Slow it down. Gentle it up.

In other words, where can you take smaller steps, be in less of a hurry, and do less right now, while still gently moving forward? How can you take the self-pressure off and be kind to yourself while engaging in your goal or activity? (Note – sometimes, you actually have to stop moving at all toward the end goal and just be. That’s okay!)

If you’re trying to create something today such as trying to do something new and uncomfortable, like fully feel an emotion, put yourself out there in some fashion, or any such terrifying prospect, you might be feeling resistance.

I’d like to suggest that you don’t try to push through the resistance, get rid of it, or argue with it. Instead, you might try befriending it. Then, ask it how it’s here to help. See how you can slow it down and gentle it up with whatever you’re doing.

I’d love to hear how this works for you! Hop on over to the anamsong facebook page for a conversation!



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4 Responses to Resistance – It’s Futile to Resist It

  1. Beth Herman March 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Nicely said, Abigail. These same forces (pun intended) are at work in our relationship with horses. Pushing a young horse too hard and fast to learn a new thing only increases his resistance and saps joy for you both. Finding and rewarding that one little thing he’s doing right–and then pleasantly surprising him by ending the lesson there–works wonders for horse and human learner alike. Now I’m off to do laundry and a few more things before I finish my tax organizer. XXOO

  2. Jennifer March 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    This was very helpful. I have not ever thought to ask the resistance “why” it was there. I knew overwhelm was one of the answers – but you’ve brought up some ideas that maybe myself does know better and I’m forcing something for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way.

    Like you I just berated myself, zoned out and kept putting the task or project, off. I’m working with someone right now whom has told me close to the same thing -to just “be” and let go of all the doing”. Of course I want to disagree because I feel that’s what I’m already doing and it’s getting me into trouble. This was a much more “gentler” approach. I wonder if my answers will be so “gentle, kind and nurturing”? I usually get that I’m avoiding, ignoring, procrastinating, denying or being lazy, irressponsible, depressed, too tired, too many things not right yet, but nothing very kind usually. This was a new perspective and I appreciate you sharing.

    • Abigail March 8, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

      You’ll learn to tell the difference between a true message and an inner critic bomb. 🙂 Hint – inner critic bombs feel awful! A true message comes from inner wisdom and feels uplifting or kind.

  3. Ali March 9, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    Oh sweet relief! Thanks for this, Abigail. I have noticed lately I describe myself as a “terrible procrastinator” and berate myself for that. I love the idea that resistance is my friend and may have messages for me. What a delightfully creative and liberating approach this is.

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