Dealing with personal resistance is a key part of rewriting the script. A feeling of resistance is an internal source of guidance for us. We all have an internal guidance system, and most of the time it gives us good advice, but in the case of resistance, it can often go either way.
Positive forms of resistance are when we get that feeling of dread in our stomach or when we hear a voice in our head telling us “No, don’t do that.” Resistance can then protect us from situations we are better left not experiencing. For example, we might feel resistance about loaning money to someone we don’t really know well and whom we suspect will not pay us back.
But sometimes, we find that we resist things we would do better just to let go of rather than allowing them to cause us anxiety and pain. In the above example, we might resist giving the money, but we also might resist saying “No.” We come up with excuses, and we dance around the subject. We are afraid of being seen as “not a nice person” if we say, “No,” so we resist saying it. Just saying it will be a relief. Better to cut to the chase.
Other times, we feel resistance about something where it would just be better if we quit resisting and gave in. For example, a friend of mine suffers from acid reflux. His doctor told him he would have to take a prescription medication for the rest of his life. He was not happy with that response. At the time, he had insurance so he started to take the medication but continued to look for alternatives. When he left his job, he no longer had insurance to cover the prescription costs, and he was astounded at the astronomical cost of the pills, but he realized when he didn’t take them, he suffered. He resisted paying for them without insurance. In this case, he did some research and found he could buy a generic brand that worked just as well and cost only about 5% of what he paid for the prescription brand. He made the switch to the generic brand, but he still resisted having to take pills. He explored natural remedies for acid reflux, and while he found that some of them helped a little, none helped as much as the pills. Over time, he found that taking just one rather than two pills a day, and changes in his diet and using some natural remedies balanced out so that he felt much better. Then he tried to go off the pills completely, but after a couple of weeks, he was suffering again. Finally, he realized he was resisting taking the pills, and considering how little they cost and how much better they made him feel, it was no longer worth the struggle to resist. Now he takes them and doesn’t give them another thought. His resistance is gone and no longer saps energy he can use in other areas.
Relationships are a big place where we have resistance. We resist giving up our time. We resist spending time with family members we don’t enjoy. Sometimes, we find if we do spend an afternoon with family, it wasn’t as bad as we expected. Once we let go of the resistance, we can enjoy ourselves and feel better.
Think of resistance as like a dam along a river. The dam is there to stop the water from flowing. Too much water is a bad thing—it can cause flooding—so some resistance, to what isn’t healthy, is good. But if the dam holds back too much water, if we resist too much, the river dries up. If we quit resisting, it’s much easier to float down the river. Finding the balance so we can float downriver on an inner tube, rather than pushing a canoe through shallow waters, or taking a wild rapids raft ride, is the key to dealing with resistance. With balance, resistance is a great guide down the river.
Irene Watson, MA, is author of The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference, and co-editor of The Story that Must Be Told: True Tales of Transformation, and Authors Access: 30 Success Secrets for Authors and Publishers. She is a workshop leader, managing editor of Reader Views, and president of a non-profit Higher Power Foundation. Irene lives next to Barton Creek in Austin, TX, with her husband Robert.