This is the seventh in a series of articles about self-care.

Resistance is real. Maybe we resist new foods, ideas, or anything that feels like change. In today’s article, we’ll discuss what resistance is, how to recognize it within ourself, and ways to use it as a stepping stone to self-care.

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What is resistance?

Resistance is real. Oxford dictionaries define resistance as, “the refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument. Resistance can be as simple as the feeling when we refuse to taste a new food, consider a new idea, or do anything that feels like change—even before we know anything about it. Or, just because it’s presented by someone we think we don’t like.”

My experience of resistance has felt like a nearly instant push-back to any idea, out of fear and control. It is a physical feeling of being threatened, attacked, emotionally rigid—like my entire body is saying the word NO from the inside out, but for no good reason. Rather, it’s saying no for the sake of sameness, fear of the unknown, rejection, being wrong, etc.

My story of resistance

Or one of them, I should say. Once upon a time, I resisted downtime that wasn’t sleep. I avoided or ignored invitations to “just chill.” As soon as I anticipated an invitation, I felt my whole body tense up. I felt guilty for not being willing to go, and guilty for turning people down. And I was repelled by both feelings, so I blocked them by protesting in one way or another. Have you ever heard of the line from the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare spoken by Queen Gertrude in response to the insincere overacting of a character in the play, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” I was that lady—resisting and protesting downtime. The fact was, that underneath my feelings of resistance, I wanted and needed more downtime. However, since I judged downtime as bad, I worked and finished to-do lists and made more lists and worked on them instead of taking downtime. And I accomplished business success, which seemed to be a reward for “hard work.” However, as time marched on, my body broke down. My adrenals were shot, my stress hormones were out of balance, and I finally got the downtime that my body needed. That downtime came in the form of severe illness. Through that experience of learning the hard way, I realized that if I had taken cues from my resistance when I felt it, I could have learned what I needed, and pro-actively taken better care of myself.

Taking cues from resistance.

Resistance can be an easy, personal red-flag, to let us know that a powerful emotion, lesson and need are present. Rather than seeing resistance and refusing, running, judging, seeing it as impossible to overcome, or waiting until our body breaks down, there is an easier way.

Resistance is not something to be afraid of.

It’s part of life. Resistance can be a great way-show-er and a stepping stone to learning and taking better care of ourself.

The path of least resistance.

The easiest way to lessen resistance is be willing. This means we can be open to the possibility that there is an easier way. I helped myself to be open, by acknowledging that what I had been doing wasn’t working. I also letting go of the tension in my body with breathing techniques, awareness and saying internally and aloud,

  • “I willingly release the need to hold tension in this body.”
  • “I willingly allow myself to see new and better ways to live.”
  • “I am open to the idea of letting go of resistance.”

Kindness provides safety.

To grow and learn about ourself and life, we need to feel safe. One of the best ways to show ourself that we are safe, is to be kind to ourself. For me, that means observing and listening respectfully and caringly to what I think, feel, need and want—unconditionally and without criticism. We can be open to showering ourself with kindness and getting curious about the resistance.

Curiosity can lead to learning.

When we’re curious about something, we want to know more about it. By becoming curious about what we resist, and simply asking ourself one question (which I will share next) and then listening for our inner answers with kindness, we can unlock our truth, feelings and needs. Before asking this question, consider getting a journal to write out thoughts, feelings, needs and discoveries. Journaling can help us see our words on paper, validate our truths and help us remember what we uncover.

The question is, “Why do I feel this way (resistant)?

10 steps to turn resistance into a tool.

Starting today, we can begin implementing the following 10 steps, to turn our inner resistance into a highly-effective tool for our own self-care. Here we go:

  1. Don’t judge ourself or our resistance. That means no criticism, meanness, blame, shame or condemning ourself or our resistance as wrong or bad. Because as Oprah says, “If we knew better we’d do better!”
  2. Allow ourself to experience what comes up, including resistance. By allowing resistance, it automatically lessens.
  3. Accept the resistance, as part of our truth. By accepting it, that doesn’t mean that it will never change. Acceptance means we include it now, as it is, and as it shifts … because it will.
  4. Get kindly-curious to learn. That means be gentle, easy and interested in learning about ourself.
  5. Ask, “Why do I feel resistant?” And listen with kindness, openness, interest, patience. We may want to journal to take notes.
  6. Ask, “Is there a deeper reason?” Again, listen easily, curiously, patiently, kindly.
  7. Ask, “Is there anything else?” Again with the compassionate care to learn our truth.
  8. Ask, “What do I need?” And let the stillness of waiting for the answer be easy like a pond without a ripple. Not searching or thinking to find an answer, simply allowing the answer to arise from the depths of the pond like a submerged bobber.
  9. Ask, “Is there a deeper need?” And listen some more …
  10. Give ourself what we need, immediately. Bingo. This may seem like a struggle at first, to give ourself what we need, but it becomes exceedingly rewarding and fulfilling over time. Ps. When we fulfill our deepest needs, our unhealthy cravings lessen and eventually dissipate. When we do not fulfill our needs, we are prone to addictions.

The benefits of resistance.

When we’re kindly-curious about our resistance, the inner learning can be deeply validating and healing. Although the idea of learning without resistance may seem easier, resistance is a fact of life. And we can learn to see our resistance as a tool.

If we feel unworthy to be free of resistance …

Remember and repeat our three affirmations from the last six weeks:

  • I do matter.
  • I am worth knowing.
  • I am important.

Rather than fighting, fleeing, stuffing or drowning our resistance …

We can create a safe, inner-place to know, care for and learn from our resistance. By doing so, we neither look to others, nor lean on them, to care for us. This allows us to feel noticed, appreciated, respected and cared about, by ourself. And, by caring for ourself rather than looking for others to care for us, we can simply share life with others, rather than needing something from them.

Will You?

I encourage you, to be kindly-curious and learn from your resistance. By doing so, you will always know that somebody cares. Let us know how applying today’s concepts works for you! We enjoy hearing from you 🙂

Join us in Knoxville, Tennessee, any Sunday in April for the Will You Grow, Love and Adventure Brunch Series at Knoxville’s Fantasy Resort—Ancient Lore Village! Check out the event video to get all the delicious details, book your tickets and come have fun with us in April!

Always with love,