Resistance is Fertile

There are days when my being simmers in a stew full of resistance and I don’t want to do any of the things I’m supposed to do. Nothing feels clearly defined and my thoughts stagnate into a glop of gooey mush. Writing feels like just so many more words. Running feels like an exercise in physical torture and I don’t feel like returning emails. Nothing much seems worth accomplishing on days like that, and nothing feels urgent enough that I can’t simply let it simmer overnight. Yet, I know myself well enough to know that if by the end of the day I haven’t accomplished something, I’ll stew in a big pot of remorse all night. So I try to stir myself up. Over the decades I’ve found that there are ways that work and ways that don’t to transform my experience of resistance.

One of the ways that doesn’t work is trying to manipulate my resistance into something else. When I try to convince myself that I really want to do something when I don’t feel like doing anything it is like telling myself that the bean curd floating around in my stew is actually meat - it doesn’t taste convincing.

Other things that don’t work involve adding more sugar or salt to the stew. Trying to sweeten my stew by thinking grateful thoughts about how fortunate I am to have the time and health to do the stuff I’m supposed to do doesn’t help. Neither does adding salt by making myself feel guilty. If I don’t feel like running, reminding myself that there are legless children in Burma does nothing to inspire me.

When I try to overcome resistance in these ways, I feel like I’m fighting with myself. I waste time trying to get the perfect alchemy of chocolate, protein and fluids into my body. If I force myself to do things when in this state of consciousness, it’s like I’m not really doing them, they’re half-assed and not meaningful. My efforts devolve to checking email every minute and a half or the need to organize my files overtakes me. I spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook

There are definitely times when I must overcome resistance NOW. And knowing when to overcome resistance versus being with the resistance itself is part of knowing myself. There are times when being with the resistance has value, if only I am willing to allow myself to sink deeply in to it, and to really taste it, rather than floating on the surface of it.

Being with my resistance is not the same thing as giving in to it. Giving in means looking for something to do to distract myself from it, or for something I “feel like doing.” Giving in means turning away from the job at hand and myself. Instead, by being with my resistance, I actually sit down and eat the stew, and permit myself the experience of being resistant. To do this, I need to trust that on some level my resistance nourishes me. Perhaps there is a deeper need that I have that I don’t understand yet. That was my experience earlier today. I felt tapped out like I didn’t want to write and my goal of ‘an article a week’ felt like a glop of cold mashed potatoes on top of my creativity.

I decided to sit with the resistance. I got curious and asked myself what I actually needed. The image that came to my mind was of a cave high above a fertile valley. I wanted to sit in this cave, feeling protected and warm, and look out watching the life all around me. I had a big ah-ha moment when I realized that I didn’t want to turn my awareness inward and explore the cave itself. I didn’t want to turn toward my self and away from my life – I wanted to look out to the world, but while sitting quietly and enjoying the quiet play of light and shadow across the landscape of my life. The landscape was rich with trees and flowers and animals beneath a cloudless bowl of blue sky. I simply wanted to see all of this spread out before me, rather than do anything. I wanted to pause and see the panorama of my life rather than concentrate on painting a small scene.

By going with the resistance what I saw about my life was this: The value of my writing it is not that I can churn out an article a week. Rather, the words I write reflect the tremendous amount of love and beauty and connection I feel in my being. At times, I feel my heart cracked wide open and I sense a weightlessness that would allow me to simply lift off and fly. I want to share this consciousness with others. As a life coach, of course I want my clients to be effective and to get stuff done, but more than anything, I want to hold space with people as they take the journey in to their own stew, as they journey to the cave high among the ponderosa pines or float above their daily grind of life. For this is the journey that returns us to the joy of our essence.

This consciousness was so much more valuable than what I would have accomplished if I had forced myself to sit and work. Resistance is fertile. By letting myself eat deeply from my stew, somehow I managed to make a soufflé.

Author's Bio: 

Author of Simply Sacred, Everyday Relationship Magic and The Alphabet of Inner Demons and How to Tame Them, Jennifer Zurick-Witte is a personal coach and confidante as well as an inspired rock climber. She's brought that courage into over a decade of helping men and woman overcome daunting personal challenges, from forging more intimate and meaningful relationships to charting new paths associated with life's transitions. If you are interested in learning more about how this certified coach can help you craft creative solutions that let you climb to new heights in your life, check out her website, movebeyondit.com. While there, make sure you check out pictures of her dog who is convinced he's a kitty cat trapped in the body of a 179 pound Tibetan Mastiff.