The presence of resistance

It took me forever to write this.

That you are reading it is testimony that I am not yet a master of resistance. I was unable to resist writing about resistance. It was even a mistake that I began writing about resistance. I misread this quote:

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
Pema Chödrön

I read the word “resistance” in that quote and decided right then and there that Pema was right. I was feeling resistance and, darn it, that meant it was time for me to “lean in” because that is exactly where I am stuck; however, please note that the word “resistance” does not appear anywhere. How Freudian is that? Note also that I am still resisting writing about my resistance.

I am but a novice struggling to make the art of resistance effortless. I don’t resist life entirely. I have made many things happen in my life and actually wanted most of them. There are a few more goals I want to reach but I still resist moving towards them because I would rather push the mountain instead of going over or around it.

(take a moment here and let that image sink in)

The mountain is the mountain resistance. You have one, too. And it is immovable. It’s a mountain! Occasionally, a few pebbles might tumble down and pop me on the head but I don’t think it happens as a result of my efforts. I think any movement on the part of the mountain is a spontaneous outburst to inertia. In other words, the mountain burped and then settled in a little more comfortably. That mountain won’t move because it is self-perpetuating. Pushing the mountain encourages it.

Pushing the mountain can look a lot like waiting for the “right time.” That’s called passive resistance in disguise and here’s how it goes:

“I really would like to [insert desire] . . . (let’s look at the mountain . . . hmmm . . . okay, start pushing!) . . . but it’s [too late, too dark, too early, too light, too soon, too cheap, too costly, too whatever]. . . whew! Did I push any of that lateness, darkness, earliness, lightness, soonness, cheapness, or costliness out of the way? No? But I tried SO HARD!”

Pushing the mountain can also look a lot like living but it is just a decoy for active resistance. Here’s what that sounds like:

“I would really like to [insert desire] . . . (inspect the mountain) . . . but I have to work, wash, clean, cook, travel, exercise, watch, sleep, stretch, fall, get up, love, be, whatever] . . . OH MY GOSH! THAT WAS SO MUCH WORK! But I got it all done. Now, I have time to devote to my desire . . . what? There is no time? But I pushed on the mountain ALL DAY LONG. What do you mean it’s still there??!!!”

Okay. I’m done.

For now.

©2012 by Barbara L. Kass

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8 Responses to “The presence of resistance”

  1. jeffstroud Says:

    I so love this! I am right there with you! The word you saw was the word or action you needed to contemplate or consider, Resistance, resist, waiting for the “right” moment, or here is one just letting things organically unfold.
    As I do this I am losing my mind/sanity. Oy !

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Jeff — I so know you are right . . . I have this fantasy going through my head all the time of “when X happens, then . . .” and those are my dead giveaway words that I am heavy deep into my resistance. I think the way out is kind of like a prayer: is it life giving?

  2. ButterfliesGalore-Kimberly Grady Says:

    moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back…….

    Resistance is my middle name, according to the statement above, the holding back……,

    I always wait in enthusiasm for your blogs!!

  3. sandiwhite Says:

    Sometimes even before the words are out of someone’s mouth, I am building my resistance. Let them utter one word not supporting my plan, another brick in the wall of my resistance. Bull-headed, stubborn, call it what ever I choose, resistance can nail my feet to the ground and make double sure that not much will be accomplished . If it’s resistance to new ideas, old ideas, cleaning the kitchen, laying aside time for something of no benefit to me, I waste too much time and energy when I could have at least given it a chance first time around. Thanks, Barbara, you just congealed a nebulous thought for me. I spend too much time resisting myself. There’s an eye-opener!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      self-resistance . . . hmmm . . . could be a new diagnosis in the DSM-V. You and I can come up with the criteria, write a paper, get published, go on tour, diagnose a whole bunch of people, come up with The Treatment, write a book, go on another tour, make a whole bunch of money, and then . . . oh, wait . . . nah . . . that sounds way too easy!

  4. Brother James Says:

    There’s a good deal of wisdom in here, Barbara. Thank you.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hola, Brother James – thank you for dropping by. I am working very, very hard to live by my own words of wisdom . . . it is often easier to write them than to live them.

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