Change: break through inner and external resistance
In the movie, Wild, which is based on a true story, Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) hike’s along the West Pacific Trail in the US. There is a scene where she is talking to a gentleman about making life changes:
He tells her ………
“I didn’t have a choice, I just couldn’t do it no-more. There’s never been a time when there’s a fork in my road.”
She replies ……
“Yeah that’s about the size of it”.
I’ve heard about people who have been inspired to make massive changes in their lives. Unfortunately, I am with Cheryl Strayed and the man above, often waiting until there is no option but to change.
This article is for those of you who are experiencing change in your life. Hopefully you can break through inner and external resistance before you’re forced to do so.
Why do you resist?
Change and growth involve suffering.
Your thoughts and feelings are communicating to you all the time. If you are not listening, these thoughts and feelings can become more intense.
Carl Rogers, one of the most influential psychologists who founded the humanistic approach, describes this as the self-actualising tendency. The actualising tendency is a person’s ability to incorporate their experiences into their concept of themselves. Kids who are fortunate to be brought up in genuinely loving environments will learn to trust their thoughts and feelings and make decisions accordingly. These kids will change and grow, feeling good about making decisions as they develop and experience life.
For those kids who are not raised in loving environments, their self-concept will be based on the values of others, particularly with parents, as they desire a greater need for love and approval. In order to feel safe and not be scolded, a self-concept is created. The self-concept can become quite rigid. Experiences that do not fit with this can be rejected or dismissed, these kids don’t grow up listening to their inner voice See Change: prevent the downward spiral
How you resist
Here are some key emotions and activities that are commonly used to avoid listening to your voice:
Anger, blame and resentment – all hostile and negative emotions hold you back and not the person that you feel hostility towards. Often, the people you resent are not even aware of how you feel. When you feel this way towards others, you lose your self-control and individual power.
Fixing other people – it might be more tempting to fix other people than fix things in your own life. You might easily be able to see the fault in others rather than in yourself. But beware, this is resistance at work. Other people are just fine and will work on themselves if and when they are ready to do so. If someone asks for your help, then fine, give it. If not, keep your mouth zipped and focus on yourself. People who feel good about themselves are too busy concentrating on their own lives to interfere with others. If you find yourself doing this, it should act as a neon light warning you to hold up the mirror.
Overindulgence in food, drink or drugs – think about it like this. People who are more aware/conscious/evolved (and happier) do what it takes to make themselves lighter so that they are more sensitive to their own thoughts and feelings. When you overeat or indulge more than you should with alcohol and drugs, you become heavier and are less sensitive to these inner signals. When these inner signals become too much to handle, you will deliberately block your feelings with excessive food, drink or drugs. It could easily become an addiction.
Diversion/distraction – if you keep your mind busy enough, you don’t have to deal with your thoughts and feelings. It is the ultimate denial technique. You don’t stop long enough to listen to yourself. The picture comes to mind when you were a child and you put your fingers in your ears and say “I am not listening, la la la.” You may have various ways of keeping your mind busy, you may undertake a new project or projects, socialise excessively so you don’t need to be alone with yourself, plan holidays or you may spend your life on Facebook watching how others are living their lives. All of these can be ways of diverting your mind from yourself.
Surrounding yourself with people who don’t support you – this is a form of self-sabotage. It is hard enough to overcome our inner resistance. A sure way to guarantee that we don’t listen to our voice and use it, is to surround ourselves with people who reflect our own fears and limitations. The good news is you are in control of the people who you spend time with, who you associate with and give your time to.
What are you resisting?
Steven Pressfield identifies the following as the greatest hits of resistance in his book The War of Art.
1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
2) The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
3) Any diet or health regimen.
4) Any programme of spiritual advancement.
5) Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.
6) Any course or programme designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.
7) Education of every kind.
8) Any act of political, moral or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.
9) The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavour whose aim is to help others.
10) Any act that entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship.
11) The taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity.
Basically, anything that will be good for you ……
Maybe you won’t have to walk 1100 miles in extreme conditions, battling inner demons and wild animals like Cheryl Strayed.
Perhaps you are going through your own version of the west pacific way, your own journey.
Is it worth it? Look back at that list that Steven Pressfield created, only you can decide if you want it enough.
You will have to work through your inner resistance and navigate the external resistance you will meet on the trail. Do you want to wait until you are forced to change or are you ready now?