How to Go From Resistance to Ease in 4 Simple Steps
As with every circumstance in our lives, what unfolds is a function of how we respond to it.
It’s not the actual events that happen, but the responses we have to these events, that determine the degree of difficulty or ease in our lives. Not uncommonly, these responses come in the form of blame, judgment, or other resistance-oriented emotional overlays which our mind reckons are easier than ‘the real thing’– ‘the real thing’ being getting in-touch with our true emotional experience that’s often been buried for years. It can be hard to find ourselves in a place other than what we want to be and blame and judgment are neither an unnatural nor uncommon response to this realization that we are in fact amidst an emotional experience that is other than how we want to feel.
I often say that we must start where we are. If where you are right now is in a state of resistance or objection like blame or judgment (as all of us are at times), then that is where you start. This resistance, despite popular misconception, is not a problem to be fixed or an issue to be solved. Once you recognize this and begin to see your resistance as a guide, showing you that you’ve encountered something personally meaningful and pointing you in the direction of where you need to turn next (rather than as an obstacle that is in your way), follow these 4 steps to skillfully integrate and move through it.
1. Move from head to heart
The first step in integrating resistance is to stop thinking about everything so much, and move from mind to experience or from head to heart. How you do that is by tuning in to the sensations and feelings in your body, which when paid attention to, contain information about the source of your reactions to the experiences that make up your life.
Go into your body. Be with whatever’s there. Whether a big heavy sensation laying over your heart, a prickly little one at the base of your head, a constantly moving, fluttering wave of depth across your chest, or a vibration that fills your entire body, it is your present-moment state of being and a reflection of your pre-rational, pre-cognitive, real-time, truthful life experience.
When you move from head to heart, you can see that what may be called “resistance” is nothing more than a protective part of you, showing up and making itself known. These protective parts– and we’ve all got ‘em– have kept us safe in the ways they know how, and they’ve usually done so for a very long time. In fact, the more pain a part of you (e.g., the part of you that feels unloved, the part of you that is mad about being treated unequally, the part of you that feels ashamed about that mistake you made a long time ago, the part of you that is afraid of being abandoned, etc) carries, the more protective parts there are around it. Thinking, in fact, tends to be one of those protective parts. There is nothing wrong with thinking, except that it too is a process by which we deny or avoid our present-moment experience by trying to rationalize it away. By focusing on the surface layer of thought, we miss the inner layer of truth.
It is not uncommon– when you observe your actions and/or look inside to your world of thoughts and feelings– to find that judgment is a substantial source of resistance and quite a prominent form of protection. Judgment, after all, helps to keep us feeling safe and protected from the ill-feeling remarks of, or comparisons to, other people and also much less vulnerable in situations where we may otherwise feel psychologically and emotionally exposed. Though many are tempted to refer to judgment or any kind of “resistance” as an obstacle or pathology, it is in fact the very thing we need to welcome and feel. And moving from head to heart is what will help you stay the course with your resistance and engage in the next three very important and personally meaningful steps.
2. Honour it
We’ve been taught that our emotional experiences of judgment, blame, etc are wrong or inferior in some way, and that we need to deny, ignore, or positive think them away, but (moment of realness) that kind of approach won’t get you any further than the next bout of resistance that’s just around the corner. Trust me– I tried it for many years (decades even), and I bet you have too. What if, instead, we stopped resisting resistance – what would happen then? What would happen if you welcomed this objecting, protective part of you?
For the purposes of our exploration, let’s use the judgmental part of you as an example (most of us have got a part that likes to judge, right?). To bring this to life a bit more, let’s anthropomorphize him/her/it. Let’s call him/her/it “Judgmental [insert your name here]”. Whether your judging part goes by Judgmental Amy, Judgmental Jack, or Judgmental Nancy, by giving it a name, know that you are already acknowledging it as a part of you that needs to be met rather than ignored, dismissed, or denied.
After claiming it by naming it, venture to respect it. Honour this resistance. Embrace this resistance. Cherish this resistance. Despite how it may look or feel on the outside, our protective parts really do want what’s best for us. Their intention is nothing but positive and they are, without a doubt, doing the best they can to defend us from danger and protect us from what they perceive to be harm. Whether safety, security, stability, or some other fundamental basic need, our protective parts are doing what they need to do to keep us afloat in the culture, family/ peer dynamics, and world that we grew up in by providing us with the strategies we needed to cope with our environment when growing up.
If you grew up in a family, for instance, that didn’t honour emotion as a normal and valuable experience, you may have developed a protective part that acts stoic, tough, and emotionless when you are slowly breaking inside. If you grew up in a family structure that suggested that being close to people meant getting hurt, then you may have developed an overly independent protective part as a psychological shield to keep people away. Just like any parts of us that exist to protect us from would-be danger and harm, Judgmental Amy and Judgmental Jack deserve to be honoured and respected. To be acknowledged. To be welcomed and embraced just like any other part.
3. Get curious about it
I don’t know about you, but some of my closest friends are those that listen well and genuinely care about what is happening with me, my mind, and my heart as a function of my day-to-day life expression. When it comes to your protective, resistant parts, the next step in integrating them is no different: Listen, listen, listen. Get curious. Ask questions. And learn everything you can about it. Hear everything it wants to tell you about itself. Take it in. Get curious. Rinse. Repeat.
Protective parts, as you now know, exist for a reason. Well, how long have Judgmental Jack or Judgmental Amy been around, and why? Learn about your protective part’s history. Find out the kinds of things it is used to doing to protect you. What exactly is it trying to protect you from? And… what is it afraid would happen if it wasn’t there to do its job (i.e., to protect you via judgmental thoughts and attitudes)? What is it afraid will happen if you tap into the emotional experience beneath it that it has been protecting you from? Is it afraid, for example, that you’ll feel all alone? Or that you’ll feel worthless? That you won’t be able to handle the experience? Whatever it is, let it speak and invite yourself to simply listen.
Be interested. Grow more curious. Ask Judgmental Amy, Judgmental Jack, or Judgmental [whatever your part’s name is] what it needs. What does it want you to know about it? What does it wish could happen that hasn’t happened for it yet? Continue listening. Very closely. Listen more. Keep listening… Just like a small child tantruming, the first and most important step in welcoming our judging, protective, or other resistance-oriented part is to hear it.
Then, couple this thoughtful listening and curiosity with more of the honour, respect and appreciation that you showed when you first welcomed this part into your awareness in the last step. Let it know that you see it. You hear it. You feel it. You “get” it. You know how hard it’s been working to keep you safe, and you acknowledge all that it’s done. Empathize, open your heart a little wider, and let it know that you are grateful for all it’s done for you until this very day.
4. Offer hope
Oftentimes, we’ve been in protective mode for so long that our parts have forgotten that any other state of being is possible. So, in this last and most crucial step, remind it that it can, in fact, be so! That it’s possible that healing can happen… That your emotions can be felt… That safety and love can be felt as the adult that you are even if they never were when you were just a kid.
In the mind and heart of Judgmental Amy or Judgmental Jack, judgment is the only way to protect you from the wrath that you may experience via the situations and people in your world. That’s why our judging and other resistance-oriented parts resorted to judging in the first place. They don’t realize that there is another way for us to achieve our goals of feeling valued, worthy, safe, and secure. So, upon acknowledging its history and its reasons for existing, it’s also important to lightly invite your judgmental part to see that it doesn’t have to do what it’s gotten so used to doing all this time… that it doesn’t have to be like ‘that’. Not because it’s bad to be like it is- but because there are other ways (to feel safe, to feel secure, to feel loved, etc)!
As you offer hope to your protective part, you may begin to notice a sense of ease come over you. What was once rigid may begin to feel more receptive. What was once devoted to protection may soften to vulnerability and surrender. You may even notice that getting in touch with other ways of achieving the same goals of safety, security, and love and offering hope almost naturally becomes a much easier endeavour as this protective part of you has the experience of being heard, witnessed, and accepted just as it is. As my friend Wes Angelozzi says, “Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.” And that is exactly what you’ve whole-heartedly done by moving from head to heart, by honoring your resistance, and by getting deeply curious about it all.
What can you welcome, honor, and get curious about today, knowing that it’s exactly what you may need in order to heal and reveal more of your truest essence?