Inner resistance is fighting against your innermost thoughts and feelings by ignoring or downplaying them. You might have read or heard phrases like, "What you resist persists", "Resistance is suffering", and "Pain x Resistance = Suffering." Let's take this concept out of our inner world to better understand it.
Imagine that a friend is crying. It is clear that she is feeling sad. You are sitting near her in the same room, but you choose to look away. You hear her sobs and sniffles nearby. But because you choose not to engage with her, your own emotional and physical experience begins to change. At first, you feel uncomfortable. Your body tenses. Your breath becomes more shallow. Then, you try to distract yourself. Ah, the books in the bookcase could use some organizing. Perhaps I should make a snack. My goodness, my hands are dry.
Your friend now, in disbelief and needing attention, yells "What is wrong with you!" But because you are so far removed from what is currently happening, you hear "There is something wrong with you" inside your own head. Something is wrong. You are wrong. Now, you feel actual physical pain. Emotions have manifested into sore shoulders, an upset stomach, and the beginning of a headache. You feel the need to lie down, but you do not because you have already created a To Do List in your head: Organize the books. Bake the granola. Exfoliate and moisturize.
Your friend wonders why you cannot seem to hear or see her. She stays in the room because she lives there, too, so occasionally you bump into her. You find yourself saying "Ah, I'll just move over here" and "She will leave eventually." But why would your friend leave her own home? She belongs here, too.
Your lack of attention and compassion increases your friend's suffering. She feels ever more sad until her sadness is a giant block within her throat and chest. It weighs her down and she lays unmovable in the middle of the floor, paralyzed by emotional pain. She is now an obstacle in the flow of the room. You must move around her carefully lest you trip and fall.
What is the point I am trying to make here? Feelings call for our attention and alert us to important information. When we attempt to ignore them, they do not go away. They manifest into physical, mental, and emotional discomfort. They become energetic blockages in our whole system. The same can apply to thoughts. We often try to ignore or downplay thoughts that makes us feel shameful, yet the underlying cause for the thought remains (and often the cause is a feeling!).
If we can learn to sit with our thoughts and feelings and *get curious* about them, we can move through the discomfort rather than escalating it. Indeed, if we can learn to LOVE our thoughts and feelings, we can start to feel comfortable in our own skin and worthy of happiness.
How can you start to get curious? First, learn some of the signs of inner resistance:
Correcting yourself ("Nah, that's not a big deal. I'm fine.")
Getting defensive ("No! I wouldn't say I'm unhappy!")
Being unable to complete thought experiments involving "what ifs" ("Why would I even consider that? It's just not possible. It would never happen.")
Blaming others/making others wrong ("If it weren't for her, there wouldn't be a problem.")
Physical symptoms (muscle tension, sensitive to the touch, uneasy stomach, exhaustion)
Racing or repetitive thoughts (like reviewing lists over and over again in your head)
Then, when you catch yourself in this state of resistance, take one second to note the resistance. It may look like this...
"Why would she say that? I'm perfectly fine!" ... "Ah, resistance. Noted."
Lastly, ask questions and allow your inner responses to be okay. Below are a list of possible questions to help you uncover the seeds of your resistance:
If that were true, what would be the worst part of it?
If I did think or feel that, what might that say about me? What bothers me about that?
What's the worst thing that could happen if I allowed myself to feel that way?
Does it bother me that this particular person is saying or doing this thing? What is it about them that bothers me? Do they remind me of anyone else?
When is the last time I felt like this? When is the first time? What was going on then?
Keep asking questions until you feel some type of emotional or physical shift that leads to feeling lighter, more peaceful, and/or more compassionate and understanding.
Note: If you are experiencing inner resistance in response to someone else's behavior, this does not necessarily mean you will suddenly accept that behavior as okay, but perhaps you will understand it more and be able to observe it without feeling so triggered.
Sometimes, it is difficult to start this process on our own. If you want guidance and support, consider working with an emotional release or emotional integration practitioner. I am happy to provide more insight on what this process might look like with me. Just give me a ring or a ping!
Taylor Shen Wild
Lover of all feelings, the "good", the "bad", and the "ugly"