Who or what are you resisting in your life right now?

Who or what are you resisting in your life right now?

I try to focus on my breath and these words as I meditate. Today seems trickier than yesterday, but not as hard as the first day so I suppose that’s progress. It would probably be easier to list the things that I don’t resist on a daily basis.


Food (except dessert, of course)

Complaining (I was, for a time, called Moaning Myrtle by my friends)

Yeah, I think that’s it. I resist pretty much everything else to some extent. So this includes not only the things that I don’t like, but the things I like and even love. I resist studying for my oral exam, getting out of bed, knitting, calling my friends, going out, doing the dishes, switching off my laptop, going home, eating a doughnut, buying new trousers, fixing the car……I could go on forever. So why the resistance? Where does it come from? Life is short and happiness can be fleeting so why do we spend so much time resisting everything?

As someone with anxiety, I believe that the resistance I subject myself to during every waking hour is both fueled by and has an impact on my mental wellbeing. The more anxious I feel, the more I tell myself no and the more I feel suffocated by my thoughts and feelings. Being a PhD student compounds this further; living in a world that demands 24/7 attention to your work and even that isn’t enough. Learning to enjoy taking breaks and not feeling guilty about it has taken me 3 years and some never manage it. I could even go as far as to say that taking days off over the weekend and not working after 6pm is a form of resistance to my work, but that’s probably not a very helpful way to go. Feeling entirely trapped in a web of resistance and shame is understandable given the above description, and whichever way you go you get more and more caught up in it. So I suppose the only real way out is to let go of it. Easier said than done, right?

Here’s a funny thing. If you search for the dictionary definition of resistance, you get two completely opposite descriptions.

  1. the refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument.
  2. the ability not to be affected by something, especially adversely

Resistance is both the refusal and the ability to accept something. Talk about ambiguity. But this is a good thing – imagine what we could achieve if we turned our resistance upside down and began to resist our resistance? Instead of saying no to the doughnut, we could say no to our resistance of the doughnut. Okay, so maybe it’s good to say no to the doughnut sometimes, but you get my meaning. Also I like doughnuts. Perhaps resistance is our ally after all, we just need to harness it for the powers of good.

Don’t get me wrong, some resistance is definitely a Good Thing. It’s healthy to resist things that are detrimental to our wellbeing, but some things that we spend so much time resisting are things we have no control over and would be better let go of. Resistance can also point us to some important  things that we think about ourselves. If we feel resistance towards someone, it could be because some behaviour in them reflects something that we dislike about our own behaviour. Turning this around and thinking on that behaviour we denigrate in ourselves may end up dissolving the resistance towards that person and although we may still continue to turn away from them, we can accept our feelings and let go of them.

Negative resistance is typically underlined by fear. We resist things we are fearful of. I really love Emmanuelle Lambert‘s meditation on fear and resistance:

When resistance shows up, first acknowledge it, invite it to come in, and identify the fear behind it….Let him or her become your best friend and your fuel.

Her piece speaks about how the fear in your resistance is just another version of yourself that needs coaxing out of the corner and can be reasoned with. To me this shows that although resistance is an inherent and necessary trait in all of us, it’s something that we can always negotiate with and that it should be more of a guide than something that rules our lives.

I think I’m starting to like resistance.

This post was published on the Committed Project blog