Resistance is something I encounter every day. I experience resistance to writing, to picking up my house, to following through on intentions and resolutions, to doing things that nourish me… The list goes on and on.
The topic of resistance (to various things unique to each person) is also something that often comes up in healing sessions with clients.
Today we are going to explore one specific way to work with resistance.
To that end, I’m sharing with you an excerpt from an interview where I speak about resistance to doing self-care with Jennifer Hofmann of JenniferHofmann.com.
While in this interview, we are speaking about resistance to self-care in particular, simply substitute ‘self-care’ for whatever it is that you currently find yourself resisting as you read. 🙂
How ‘should’ creates resistance.
Larisa: A big part of my journey into what I call Sacred Self-Care has been approaching self-care from a standpoint of being tuned into my body, of listening, and of noticing what causes a sense of expansion and ease in my body.
For a very long time, however, I approached self-care more from a mental place of ‘this is what I need to be doing’ or ‘what I should be doing’ and then imposing that on my body. While this worked in the short-term, eventually I encountered all sorts of resistance.
Jennifer: I want to say that, for me personally, anytime i think there is a should, I don’t do it.
Larisa: Oh, absolutely not. And, I am absolutely the queen of not doing anything that I think I should do and then beating myself up for it… which leads to this huge cycle of awfulness!
One way to work with resistance.
Larisa: I’d like to speak briefly to that whole resistance piece. When you start noticing there are shoulds involved in your self-care or you start noticing resistance coming up in you, one thing you can do is to make meeting that resistance your self-care practice.
Actually being with that resistance and noticing where you are feeling it in your body and spending time with it can be an incredibly valuable self-care practice in and of itself.
It might be even more important than actually doing that thing you think you should be doing (that you are then resisting).
Jennifer: What?! Wait! So the practice would be sitting with the resistance. Is that what you are saying?
Jennifer: Wow. Can you say more about that because I could get on board with that!
Where is resistance in your body? What sensations are present there?
Larisa: That’s a self-care practice in itself and it’s a really good starting point. In fact, it’s a place where, for myself at least, I often need to start.
A big part of the way that I approach self-care is through helping people learn how to center in their bodies and tune into the sensations in their bodies in relation to whatever it is that they are experiencing.
So, if you are experiencing resistance, take a moment and notice where you feel that resistance in your body. For me, it is usually a sense of hardness, or contraction, in my solar plexus or chest.
Once I’ve identified where it is in my body and the sensations associated with it, I can then hang out with that sense of hardness or contraction in my body and just watch it. I can let it be there without trying to shift it or change it in any way.
Jennifer: Wow. Wow! I don’t know what to say. This is really blowing my mind. I really love this idea.
How listening to resistance can lead to transformation and healing.
Jennifer: The thing that strikes me about this idea of being with the resistance to self-care is that some people would be critical and say ‘well, that’s a waste of time. Just get doing it. Force yourself.’
But what occurs to me is how little space or bandwidth I have for that little tender place inside that doesn’t get a voice or doesn’t get heard very often.
And, what is really landing for me is that you are giving that part of you that is like ‘but I don’t want to’ or ‘this is hard’ or ‘but I’m too stressed’.. you are giving that part of you an opportunity to have a voice and be witnessed.
Like you said it is in your body and you are being present with it instead of shoving it aside. Do you think that there might information there?
What do you think is possible for someone if they sit with that resistance?
Anything is possible when you sit with resistance!
Larisa: I think anything is possible when you sit with that resistance! You might hear that vulnerable voice within yourself and you might be able to give it some reassurance.
Perhaps, well for myself anyway, a whole bunch of grief might surface for all the times that I haven’t listened to that voice. So, you might uncover some grief work that needs to be done as you move deeper into that very vulnerable place with it.
That isn’t something that will necessarily happen the first, or even the second or third time you sit with the resistance.
My point is more that meeting resistance can be a process in and of itself that leads to ever deeper and deeper self-knowing, self-understanding, and eventually to transformation and self-healing.
That’s why just this step can be a very powerful path of self-care even without getting into all the external activities that we normally think of as self-care.
Jennifer: Wow. We’re 14 minutes into the call and my brain is full! This is amazing. I love this!
Why overriding resistance and just ‘doing the thing’ doesn’t work.
Larisa: Before we move to another aspect of self-care, I want to speak to the piece about how easy it is to not listen to the resistance, or to push it away and say ‘no, I just need to go out and do it (the self-care thing)’.
In some cases, that can be a very valuable and useful approach. Sometimes we do need to just get out and do these things that help us feel better.
But, over time, if it is your pattern to continually barrel through the resistance or to not listen to that small voice, it’s not going to work.
Eventually you are going to have to start listening because you are going to stop doing those things that support you simply because it requires too much effort to be constantly pushing down the resistance and overriding it.
Jennifer: Yeah, that makes sense. My takeaway so far is that when we resist self-care, the resistance itself can bring its own insight if we sit with it.
Larisa: I think that is a good way of summarizing it, yes. And, to keep in mind that being with the resistance is a form of self-care in and of itself. Sitting with and meeting resistance IS self-care.
I love to hear from you!
I love this idea! And it’s something I really need. I’ll be practicing it because this resistance is really affecting me, sometimes it doesn’t even let me eat when I’m hungry :/
Larisa Noonan says
Hi Georgina! I’m happy to hear from you. 🙂 I truly hope this approach is as helpful for you as it has been for me. <3
Yes, yes, and yes!
When I try to “should” myself into something, it always fails.
I never thought of just sitting with the resistance.
Will add this to my toolbox!
Larisa Noonan says
Yay! I’m delighted this approach resonates with you, Casey. <3
What if your resistance is also to taking your medications? Even though you know they help you? I struggle to take my medications at all. I struggle back and forth just believing I am fine / normal. And that I don’t need help. And feeling guilty for the accommodations and help I do give myself. And I wake up trying to convince myself to take them. I now have them in a gummy / treat type form just to get myself to take one in the morning. But some days I don’t take them at all. And then I am just sitting through. I get stuck in my head, suffering my physical and mental disorders loosing my whole day to suffering and sitting in it. How can I make it easier to feel more comfortable taking my medications? And to using self-care tools I know help me? I just don’t think suffering through days without it is actually really helping me at all.