“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” ~ Eckhart Tolle.
Countless gurus echo this quote across time and around the world, from Oprah to Buddha to Rumi and so many others. So knowing this why do we still tend to so often get stuck in negative thoughts and actions, fully aware that they are not bringing us the results we most desire?
I believe it comes down to 3 stages we go through as we navigate various challenges in our life: the feelings of resentment, the stubbornness of resistance and the need for revenge. One stage ultimately leads to another, which then becomes a vicious cycle and we stay stuck in our stuff, creating exactly what we least want!
So let’s get this figured out once and for all so you can move on!
Let’s start at the beginning of this cycle, which I believe almost always begins with some level of RESENTMENT towards someone or something that is happening in your life.
You will know this is happening when you find yourself saying things like “I would have, I could have, I should have” or you feel something or someone else is wrong or bad or you go to that place of blame, shame or guilt – then you are IN RESENTMENT. Put differently – it’s any time you have any emotional reaction that you view as negative.
And think now how often you say things like this to yourself or others? Possibly daily! So why do you do it? Because there are some huge payoffs – the biggest being that you get to be RIGHT! But there is also a huge price you pay. You not only create more of what you don’t want but go deeper down the rabbit hole….
As you continue to feel that life is not going your way or that you cannot handle the changes necessary to deal with a particular situation you begin to gather more and more evidence to support your beliefs. And as you gather that evidence you now begin to move from resentment into RESISTANCE. You go into denial and aren’t accepting ‘what is’. You aren’t able to deal with the truth and feel the associated painful emotions. So you begin to employ different coping mechanisms to suppress your emotions: drinking, drugs, over-eating or over-exercising, shopping, immersing yourself in work – all just a method to run away from or resist what is challenging you. You begin to put up walls, push people away, cut off honest communication and shut down emotionally and/or physically.
And the reason you do this is because your resistance serves as a defense mechanism against your fears – fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, fear of losing something important to you and many other reasons.
It may feel safe to do this, to pull back into yourself, to cocoon yourself or to “run away” but ultimately these behaviors keeps you stuck where you don’t want to be.
It’s ironic isn’t it that we resist something to avoid the negative feelings associated with a particular situation or person, yet in the resisting we expose ourselves to the very feelings we are trying so hard to avoid.
Consider for a moment how do you demonstrate resistance in your life? I know there have been many times in my life where I’ve been unwilling to accept or see the truth about something. And I can tell you for sure that the more I fought it, the more I resisted it – the more painful it was.
And then eventually that pent up resentment leads to the need for REVENGE in some way or another; that sense of “I’ll show you”! You want to get even with life, with others, with yourself. But all revenge does is lead to self-sabotage and back to resentment and the vicious cycle repeats itself over and over again. In the process not only do you lose control but you give that control to what you are most despise and you ultimately create more and more of exactly what you don’t want.
So think about the following: honestly and without judgment:
- Who are you resisting in your life and what is the price you are paying?
- What in your life are you resisting in your life and what is the price you are paying?
- Who are you trying to get even with and how are you doing that? What is the price you are paying?
It’s a tough realization right? So are you ready to get out of this vicious, self-defeating cycle? GOOD!
Here are 5 strategies to help you – not easy, but simple enough:
- Acknowledge that you are in a stage of resentment, resistance or revenge and observe your emotions and what it looks and feels like in your life. Look at this an opportunity for change.
- Take responsibility for where you in this cycle? What are the choices and decisions you made that led you there? This will require honest communication with yourself and/or others.
- Empower yourself and change your story. You created the first story that put you into resentment, resistance or revenge so choose to create a different story to get you out.
- Sit in the discomfort of your emotions and feelings. They will not last forever! In fact, we absolutely know that the more you resist feeling something, the more you are fueling it and the more it will remain within you.
- Let your emotions move through you. One way is to breathe in the emotion, letting it move through your body and sit with it. Simply notice it without any fear attached to it. Continue breathing and notice, without any judgment what the emotions feel like as they move through your body. Really allow yourself to feel the feelings! As the intensity of the emotion reduces (which it will), give yourself permission to forgive and let it go completely knowing that this doesn’t mean you accept someone’s behavior or will even trust them again but your forgive so that you can let go and move on. Then as you continue breathing deeply feel the possibility of new positive emotions replacing the ones you were holding onto and create a new vision for your future.
I know that dealing with all of this is hard work but I also know the rewards of moving through it. I hope this gives you some insights and serves you in helping you get unstuck from a place that is not working for you and moving towards one that is; to a place where you want to be, to where you can feel free and excited about what the future holds for you.
Until next week – embrace your inner truth, live your purpose and make your contribution in the world.
With gratitude and appreciation,