Resistance is a gift. How often are you met with challenge and curse the world instead of thanking it? Most of my life, I have believed that when hurdles happen or unexpected (albeit natural) shifts happen, I am being punished for previous mistakes. I have seen sadness, loss, disappointment and confusion as a sign that I am wrong, not good enough, unchosen or broken. These common human beliefs, masked as "I'm the only one" insecurities, can either keep me stuck or show me how to break through into new paradigms of perspective. I have been stuck in deep stories and beliefs, inherited and perpetuated over time, only leading to shame and more of what is hurting.
As humans we are very skilled at ignoring, avoiding, disowning and rejecting experience when remembering it or facing it hurts and overwhelms us. This is a primal survival strategy that isn't wholly relevant or helpful in current day. Learning to meet resistance and explore it with courage, compassion and creativity is a way to become more of your true self, who you want to be, to align with your current and evolving self.
It wasn't until I had the shadow talked about, the concept Carl Jung speaks to so magically, that I saw there are two or more sides to every experience. In delving into Jung's work and joining conversations on topics that unsettled me at times (enter Brene Brown), the value of resistance and discomfort became more clear to me. At face value, something that triggers or troubles me also holds important information that can actually guide me closer to clarity, comfort and compassion. When resistance shows up, it usually means shadow material is present. This might present as strong emotion, fear, or procrastination. These thing,s that are conveniently glossed over, are actually the things that deserve more time and space to be expressed.
Through recovery work, creative art process and spiritual exploration, I have come to see the shadow material as my friend. Resistance is a sure sign that I am meeting shadow material, something that hasn't been allowed to surface for one reason or another. When I fight resistance, trying to keep it under the surface like a blow up ball in a pool of water, I get tired and tunnel vision. I become unable to see the whole pool, only focusing on the ball staying under the surface because some part of me believes it is safer there, or I am safer with it kept in secret. Fighting, resisting, hiding, these are all self esteem killers and exhausting efforts. Having clarity and confidence are nearly impossible when resistance and secrets or shadow are prevalent.
Challenges are messengers. Emotions are messengers. Sacred information comes through visible and invisible channels. Resistance isn't something to savor or hold onto, yet it is something to notice, honor and work with.
Debbie Ford, a world renowned author and former mentor of mine, said this: "what you resist, persists." At an intensive retreat, appropriately called the shadow process, she spoke to the life of resistance. It is absolutely possible to keep resisting what frightens us or seems shameful, yet the information trying to be seen and heard will not be squashed down indefinitely. Avoiding the conversation with material living in or under where resistance rises, whether this conversation is literal or symbolic, only adds for struggle and suffering. Fighting something just brings more tension and requires more energy to keep fighting.
Think of any incredibly moving story you've heard: the challenges create the tension that leads to creation. Overcoming, changing, growing, evolving, stepping through struggle, these are the pieces of the puzzle that make moments matter. Challenge doesn't make life matter, it does bring meaning and new perspective though. We are here to grow, to discover what matters to us, to identify our values, to connect with ourselves and others, to create our own conscious stories.
Releasing resistance requires trust, a willingness to be in unclear waters. Shifting from "I don't want to go there" or "I can't face this" into a place of "I don't know what's true or coming now" is part of this profound process. Seeing fear as my friend, not to be followed or believed, but an entity that can help me identify what's true for me now, has been a life changing decision. Resistance, challenge and the like might just be offering you what you've been hoping, wishing and asking for. Consider them gifts in unlikely wrapping paper.
Resistance still sneaks up on me, all the time. Being committed to see it and work with it makes us allies instead of enemies. This is a daily practice. The value of befriending what challenges and flipping it on its side, to explore and express, leads to new freedom. Take some time to explore and consider the opportunity in tension... transformation awaits.
With Huge Heart,
Darcy Helene Meehan
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas