I have spent a lot of time looking at resistance – my own and other people’s. It’s really tough being full of resistance, especially when you feel you should be more flexible, easy going, accepting, open, flowing etc etc etc. It’s very interesting that the more pressure you place on yourself not to be resistant the more the resistance seems to grow. And this, I have found, is actually the key to overcoming resistance.
1. Avoid should, must, ought and have to – at all costs
My earlier life was full of words like should, must, ought and have to. I put huge pressure on myself about the things I should have done, ought to be doing and had to do. It made me work very hard, often created a lot of guilt and shame and it was highly stressful. Later, when I got into self development in a big way, I was taught that I must be heathy and I must be happy and I must be peaceful – all really good advice if you want a positive life. But the strange thing was that more I pushed myself and forced myself the more resistance I seemed to experience. And there is nothing more uncomfortable than resisting all the things you really want in your life, like health and happiness and inner peace. It’s highly self-defeating.
2. Make choices instead
I started to wonder what would happen if I stopped saying I must do anything? What would happen if I simply took all the pressure off and only did things I chose. This might sound easy, but I found it extremely challenging. I was so used to working under self-imposed pressure that I would get into a kind of internal panic when I couldn’t feel it any more. But I persevered, and whenever I remembered I simply stopped doing anything that I felt I must do, just to see what would happen. It took me some time to discover that I could choose to go for a walk or go to the beach instead. That seemed too challenging at first, but slowly I discovered that nothing happened. I didn’t lose business. I didn’t lose friends. I didn’t even make less money, even though I was working a fraction of the time and effort I had previously put in.
3. Take freedom to extremes
Gradually I started to enjoy what I was doing much more than before and then a small internal rebellion took place. I found that extreme resistance would arise the minute I felt someone trying to impose anything on me. It felt so awful that I would do absolutely anything to avoid that feeling. So now I allow myself to question every time someone says must, ought, should or have to. Because I simply do not feel good when I feel I have to do something, even if it is good for me – even if it appears to be true. I only feel good if I am choosing.
In one of the Conversations With God books (by Neale Donald Walsch) God explains that the true nature of life is freedom, and the nature of the soul is freedom. Anything that contradicts freedom is therefore ultimately against life and against the soul. I pondered this for many years because I felt it was really significant but it was a long time before it became clear why it was so important.
It is one of the most liberating things I have ever discovered. Resistance to life is a truly horrible experience. It is so widespread that many people feel controlled in almost every aspect of their lives. And yet my life did not fall apart when I stopped doing everything I felt I had to do. It actually started to fall together. It didn’t happen overnight. I have been working on it consciously for over 6 months, often catching myself with subtle oughts and shoulds, but as I release them over and over again I am opening up a life of choice without obligation – what a relief!