What is ‘Emotional Resistance’?

If you’ve been reading my newsletters, or any of the recent books on Law of Attraction, you’ve heard the term ‘resistance’ come up on many occasions. While you probably have a good idea what it means, you may not know how it shows up or how to deal with it, so here are some things to consider if you think you might be resistant to pursuing your dreams.

The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary defines emotional resistance as a psychological defense mechanism wherein a patient rejects, denies, or otherwise opposes the therapeutic efforts of a psychotherapist. Most people do not physically resist receiving help, but rather show emotional resistance behaviors we exhibit when we are either unwilling or unable to move past a difficult experience or emotion. Most of this kind of resistance is unconscious. If we manage to recognize that we are doing it, then we often don’t know why.

We all have experiences that have hurt us in the past, and we all have to work through those emotions in order to be the person we want to become. To protect ourselves, some people create resistance as a roadblock to change so that they don’t have to do the work to move through or deal with their feelings. Why? Usually, our egos convince us that the pain is too great and therefore, too hard to deal with…that it’s easier to stuff or ignore the pain than address it. The truth is, working through it is often much easier than dealing with the consequences of the resistance.

How We Experience Resistance
In the book, You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay there is a list of common behaviors that people exhibit that shows resistance is present. As you read this partial list of resistant behaviors, as yourself what you do when you think about a difficult experience from your past?

  • changing the subject
  • leaving the room
  • going to the bathroom
  • being late
  • canceling appointments
  • getting sick
  • refusing to pay attention to someone from whom we’ve asked for help
  • procrastinating
  • filling your day with busy work
  • wasting time
  • suddenly starting or stopping relationships
  • creating breakdowns (appliances, car, plumbing, computers, etc.)
  • eating
  • drinking
  • smoking
  • blaming others for blocking you (they won’t let me…)
  • blaming yourself
  • being impatient with yourself
  • hiding from yourself or others

Do any of these look familiar to you? Can you think of other behaviors you have used as resistance?

Working Through Resistance
It all amounts to being unwilling to face or be with certain emotions. As we listen to our egos, we lose sight that resistance does not serve us and is only based on a belief that we cannot conquer our fears. All beliefs start with a thought, and changing a belief starts with the desire to change AND the change-producing thought.

Bypassing the ego requires challenging the thoughts that convince you that resistant behavior is the best solution. There are many ways to do this, which one depends on what feels best to you. Byron Katie has created a process called, The Work, that shows you how to challenge thoughts that are not working for you. The Work consists of four questions and a turn around, and it’s very effective for confronting negative and fear-based thoughts.

Alternatively, a Buddhist-inspired approach recommends simply observing negative and fear-based thoughts, feeling the affects and resisting judgement. Eventually, the thought will lose it’s power over you and you will be able to move past it. Eckhart Tolle addresses this in his books, The Power of Now and The New Earth, and he offers meditations to clear your mind for this process.

There are countless other authors and systems that can help you in this process. If there is a will, there is a way. If there’s no will, then that is your clue that maybe you don’t really want what you thought you wanted. Then, it’s time to take a closer look at what you really do want and are willing to take action toward.

Have you been successful working through resistance? Comment below on how you did it and share your results.

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3 thoughts on “What is ‘Emotional Resistance’?

  1. Pingback: Emotional Resistance is an Opportunity to Change for the Better. | BizMum

    • Rebecca, I am happy to hear you found something in my blog that was helpful. I remember realizing 3 years ago that most people hear the term *resistance* but probably have no idea what it REALLY is or how it shows up in their lives. That was the spark to write the post…so it would be here when you needed it 3 years later!

      Don’t you just love how that was all choreographed for us? Definitely something to appreciate!

      Many blessings,

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