07 May

Understanding Your Own Resistance-Getting at what is uncomfortable

Why is it so hard to do something sometimes? Like start something new? Or end something? As human beings, even though our minds and bodies are in a constant state of change on so many levels- cellular, psychologically, physically and spiritually. For better or worse, we naturally fight against it.

So what happens when what you are doing is not working? You’re taking all the right steps, but it just doesn’t feel right? Or you just can’t get to that task? What is that about?

[This post is one of a three-part series about resistance.]

I’ve been shifting roles from therapist to Life Coach in my career house over the past few years. It’s been a difficult transition because a divorce happened in the middle of it, throwing us as a family into a serious transition, and then a death followed, which impacted us even more. The result is that now I a single full-time mom, and sole provider, so my lifestyle is busy. There are frequently many balls in the air for me to juggle.

I don’t think a lot about my job title. I’m still a healer and teacher regardless of what my business card says. That’s my calling and my soul’s work. I’m comfortable with that. It’s also where my values sit, so it works. But pragmatism in our real world, along with the instinctive way many human beings interact is forcing me to become more specific about my work identity. I have to be clear how I present myself to the world – right down to the language I use on a website. Who am I really? What am I offering exactly?

“Get specific,” they say. “Be clear on the services you offer . . .” I read things that say: “The industry trend is . . .” And off I go, lost in things about verbiage and standards to “grow and develop your business”.

Honestly, I have zero interest in that. So I naturally resist that part of developing my business (I think I’d rather play golf!) And while we are on topic, creating business cards is about as boring to me as taking out the garbage. Where did the administrator in me go? Can’t I just pay someone to do this stuff? I just want to coach. Can we move on please to something interesting?

I notice as I attend to these various tasks, my enthusiasm and passion starts to wane. Procrastination kicks in. Suddenly I take on new interests (anything but this right?) But I love coaching, what happened? Why can’t I get those stupid business cards made?

The advice I’m getting is actually good advice. It’s solid. It turns out that that’s just not how I want to spend my time. . . My passion is in the creating, it’s in the relationship between coach and client. It’s in the sitting with the clients in their process. That is where I thrive. It’s in writing, exploring, learning and understanding, not creating documents or good marketing techniques. I enjoy the relationship human beings have with life, in hearing other’s stories, learning about their struggles, celebrating their successes; supporting them on their path towards growth and self discovery.

So how do I overcome this resistance and actually get this stuff done?

Some ways to work with resistance

Clearly I can speak from personal experience. So this blog is about my own process around this. With a background in psychology and having had years of my own therapy, I am naturally introspective so it’s easy for me to identify the resistance. But that’s not true for everyone. Below are a couple examples of how I work with resistance.

QUIET TIME: Sometimes sitting quietly can help. My resistance comes into my awareness in the early morning hours, when things inside and outside are at their quietest. When do you find yourself thinking about your resistance to something? Struggling with it? Is there a time when you can find some quiet contemplation around this?

INVITE AWARENESS: It’s ok to invite the resistance into your awareness. It’s already there anyways, just waiting to be explored. This is your opportunity. I like visualizing it. I find an image that encapsulates how it looks and feels to me. It might be a free flow of thought while journaling, a meditation exercise, and a quiet walk alone. How can you invite it into your awareness?

ACCEPT IT: I can be the first to criticize myself. I get it. We are a culture that celebrates action and achievement. Resistance is not part of the formula. But acknowledging and accepting that you have resistance to something is important. And it’s ok to be in that space. You’re where you are for a reason. It’s important in your process of self-discovery. So don’t push it away, judge it or bury it. Be with it. What would it feel like if you just accepted it?

OPEN A DIALOGUE UP AROUND IT: This can be done with yourself, with another person, with a coach, a therapist, a pastor, a manger, anyone that can listen and support you in an honest and positive way. That’s means with no judgment. Observations and feedback are ok, but someone poking holes in your identity when you’re sharing a personal struggle is not ok. Who can you talk to? What do you have to say about this resistance stuff?

WRITE ABOUT IT: Writing is a great tool, especially as an exercise for exploration. They say writing is a great way to bring the unconscious and conscious together. Why not give yourself a leg up in the process? Start a journal, write a blog (hey!) read about it, start to get a better understanding of what resistance means to you personally. How does it show up in your life? in relationships? In your work? What insight can you keep in this exercise of self-discovery? And what can you let go of?

Read the full series on Understanding Your Own Resistance:
Understanding Your Own Resistance, Part 1
Understanding Your Own Resistance, Part 2
Understanding Your Own Resistance, Part 3

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