Why Resistance Is a Gift


Like most people, I experience resistance on a daily basis. This could be resistance towards meditating, journaling, exercise, writing, going out for a walk, answering emails, or anything else—if I do it on a semi-regular basis, I have experienced resistance towards doing it at one point or another.Listen to this post here:When we experience resistance, really what we’re experiencing is a conflict within our inner dialogue. One part of us thinks we ought to be doing something, and another part of us disagrees. More often than not, this conflict arises from one part of us being focused on long-term vision (usually the part that is telling us to go exercise, etc.) and one part of us being focused on short-term comfort.Much of what we do in the interests of long-term vision doesn’t necessarily feel that nice, or even comfortable, in the short-term. Exercise is a great example of this; if we do it enough, we can get to the point where we enjoy it in the moment, but if we’re out of practice, there’s an adjustment period we need to go through in the meantime that can feel challenging.The main thing to remember about resistance is that it’s completely and 100% human. Acclaimed writer Stephen Pressfield wrote a whole book about the daily battle he faces with resistance called The War of Art (which I 100% recommend reading).The solution to resistance is not to stop feeling resistance, it’s to learn how to listen and respond to it.[Tweet "Feeling resistance isn't the issue, it's how we respond to the feeling that counts."]

Why Resistance is Actually Helpful

Resistance contains a message. At times, I've experienced resistance when I've been faced with doing something that doesn't fit my values or when I've had the feeling that something isn’t right for me. At other times, I’ve also experienced resistance when I'm facing something that is a growth opportunity and that would require me to step out of my comfort zone and maybe even shift my self-concept.In both cases, resistance is an opportunity for greater personal awareness and growth. Too often, we sense resistance coming up and either give into it by default or grit our teeth and push through it, without questioning: why am I feeling this way?Get to know your resistance: notice what it feels like physically to experience resistance, notice what thoughts go through your head when you experience resistance, and pay attention to the situations you’re in when you notice resistance coming up. Through listening out to our resistance, we can learn to tell the difference between “integrity alert” resistance and “growth opportunity” resistance.

Making friends with your resistance

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you start exploring this. If resistance is something you’ve been grappling with in your own life, I invite you to take the time to sit down and explore these questions through writing.1. Will this thing that I’m feeling resistance towards bring me closer to, or take me further away from, my values and goals?2. What influences my resistance? What patterns do I notice around when it comes up? (For example, does it mostly show up when you’re tired, hungry, or stressed?)3. What are the beliefs behind the resistance? Am I coming from a place of "not enough" or a place of self-care?4. What will my life be like three months, six months, a year from now if I start doing this thing today? 5.  What will my future self most thank me for? How do you respond to resistance in your life? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!Further reading: How to be kind to yourself when you don't do what you say you're going to do & an interview on how to create lasting change.Image: Ilham Rahmansyah