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Resistance

Updated: Jan 26, 2023



Most importantly, I would like to introduce the concept of a resistance pattern because this understanding is what will make this ride not only quicker but way less bumpy. This is the page that I wish every therapist would read. Traditionally therapy aims to change beliefs, such as the example of "I am not good enough," which doesn't really work. That's because what's trying to change the belief is a resistance pattern. Adding a positive belief on top (like “I am good enough") only covers the deficiency underneath, like a band-aid, so then it never resolves. We need to start to notice resistance directly and allow it because it is the resistance itself that is repressing the emotion, reinforcing deficiency, and causing suffering.


Working directly with resistance in this way is why this approach is much more gentle and effective than traditional therapy, since even modern approaches like EMDR are pushing through resistance which is what makes it so uncomfortable and ineffective to truly resolve the underlying pattern.


A simple analogy is that whenever there is any deficiency or even just an emotion like anger, there will be "another side" to this pattern which is trying to push it away. If you can imagine two hands pushing against each other. One hand is the deficiency or emotion, while the other hand is the resistance pattern trying to fix it by pushing, analyzing and over-thinking, or avoiding. This is what is referred to as resistance, although I sometimes use the term 'protector' because resistance can sound like a bad thing. Really this is just a part of you trying to protect you from harm.


Resistance patterns are always ultimately about survival, and when we do inquiry and go deeper within and move through the layers, we almost always end up with the need for love or safety. So it’s important that we do not turn resistance into a bad thing, something to get rid of or be ashamed about having, since this will actually only fuel more resistance and not be very helpful. Seeing resistance patterns as actually trying to help is a more practical and helpful view that leads to release. Ultimately what both sides of the pattern need (the deficiency and the resistance) is acceptance.


Resistance is sneaky and hides very well in order to survive. You can just assume it’s always there, even when it doesn’t seem like there is any resistance. Using inquiry tools we can start to gently bring up resistance and notice it. More will be said on this in other posts, but for now a good take away is: if there is suffering, there is resistance, and that’s ok. A good inquiry question if there is an uncomfortable feeling is: “is there any resistance to this?”


You will not really be aware of the resistance until you look with some curiosity. The resistance pattern is very well hidden, which is why it has survived all this time. All that we typically are aware of, especially if we are triggered, is the deficiency itself. But we can start to notice that there is a sense of "no," feel that contraction in the body, usually the jaw, and then put words to it, like "I don't want this" and trust the body to tell you if that's right or not.


If for example there is a deficiency pattern of "I am a failure,” there is also going to be a sense of "I don't like that" or "I don't want to be a failure." Or if there is just an emotion like anger, there is also going to be a resistance pattern of something like “I don’t want to be angry."

Again, the words are always personal to you, so stay open and see what connects. The most common words are: I don’t want to, I shouldn’t, I can’t, and I hate it.

Once you have connected with the right words, the hard work is done and at this point you can just rest a bit and allow those charged words to be here, giving them and the associated contraction in the body some space. This is the part where we want to fix or change, figure out, go into memories, etc. but this is actually just the resistance pattern in action trying to protect. If you can stay with those charged words for a few moments, and just allow them a bit, you'll feel the body begin to release and relax. Pretty soon the words will start to feel neutral and lacking in meaning. You will notice the body is not as contracted anymore either, like a weight was lifted. This is essentially the approach.


Even just being mindful of the fact that there may be resistance in the moment is incredibly powerful and will start the unwinding process. Remember, it's not about getting rid of anything, as that's what resistance tries to do. But if we allow that resistance directly, something shifts in the body as the underlying emotion gets automatically released, and your experience changes completely.


By fully allowing resistance (by being willing to hear the words and notice the body sensations), the repressed emotion and sense of deficiency will dissolve. This may be surprising to some because it is the opposite of our usual approach, and there may be some hesitance to doing this because we fear that we will only feel worse. But again, that is the resistance pattern talking trying to protect you. Stay curious and see if you feel better or worse by allowing the "I don't want to."



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