My topic for today's musing is resistance. I'm talking about the kind of resistance we experience when we try to make a change in our lifestyle, like adopting a new diet or a new practice like physical exercise or meditation. We all know this kind of resistance. We see it in our friends and family when they try to make changes. But, more to the point, we know this kind of resistance because we do it too.
When we meet this kind of resistance to change in ourselves many of us try one of these three strategies. We either try to push harder, try to dangle a bigger carrot or wave a bigger stick, or we resort to shaming and guilt trips also known as self-criticism. But none of this really works does it? In fact, all this amounts to is meeting resistance with more resistance. This is not a recipe for change. It leaves us in some form of stalemate with ourselves.
What is this resistance? It turns out that this is the most important question to answer when we meet resistance. Here is what works - answer these questions and engage these practices.
- Where does the resistance show up in your thoughts? Identify these thoughts when they arise.
- Where does the resistance show up in your feelings? Feel these emotions as fully as you can.
- Where does the resistance show up in your body (as perhaps tension or stiffness)? Sense into these areas of your body.
- Where does the resistance show up in your actions? Observe yourself taking these actions.
- Where does the resistance show up in your dreams? Reflect and journal about these dreams.
- Where does the resistance show up in your relationships? Speak openly and honestly to these people about how your resistance is affecting your relationship.
Answering these questions and being with all the ways that your resistance is show up is meeting resistance with curiosity and openness. Answering these questions brings clarity about the nature of your particular resistance. Your clarity melts the resistance in the fire of your own attention. New and creative ideas begin to appear, fresh feelings rise up, your body wakes up, and new possibilities for action show up.
Meeting resistance with more resistance never works. Meeting resistance with curiosity and openness brings clarity, and clarity dissolves the resistance. Try it and let me know how it works for you.