Handling Resistance

Resistance. It’s the bane of productive life. It gets in the way of action, first and foremost. Let’s first explore the many ways in which resistance manifests itself:

1)        Procrastination – resistance to working now. Put it off for tomorrow. Let’s do other more fun and comfortable things first.

2)        Boredom – resistance to being still

3)        Laziness – resistance to fear

4)        Anger – resistance to what is

5)        Stress – resistance to competing priorities

6)        Frustration – resistance to results that are different from expectations

7)        Guilt – resistance to what was

8)        Etc etc

As you can see, resistance expresses itself in many forms, and all of them are hazardous not only to being productive, but also to health and well-being. What is resistance anyway? To put it in the simplest terms, resistance is when something happens in you that you don’t like, and you try to fight it. How does resistance occur? Because when what you believe you want and what you actually get doesn’t match, you get upset. You get upset because of the resistance you put out to the world, saying, “No! This is not what I want!”. Or rather, you think you put it out to the world.

Try this exercise: go back to someplace or sometime when you were upset. Choose something that happened long ago because if you clearly remember something years ago, you must have been pretty upset about it. Go back, and relive that moment. What happened that made you upset? Who started it? What situation did you find yourself in? how did you feel? Was it helplessness? Anger? Fear? Hate? Notice where all this is happening? Is it outside or inside? You might think that’s dumb logic. Of course it’s happening inside now that I reflect on it right? But when it was actually happening, wasn’t it happening outside? That’s how you were upset inside?

Ok, so now try this: while you are reliving this past event, and feeling all the yucky emotions that come with it, notice how the emotions feel. Does it feel like long ago, blurry, almost not there? Chances are, it feels like you’re still there, being backstabbed, or ridiculed, or ignored, or anything like that. How is this possible? The people may no longer be in your life.

Some of them have probably even passed on. The place where it happened might not even exist anymore. How can you still experience it so clearly like your still present at that time? The very fact that what happened “outside” still persists even when “outside” does not exist anymore proves that there never was an “outside”. Events happen outside. The damage that was done, was done inside.

This just goes to show how as human beings we are very vulnerable to our emotions. We still resist things that we know in our minds that we cannot change. But for some reason we still keep it there in our hearts and still keep the unwanted emotions. Why do we do this? That’s a different topic altogether. In my case, it’s usually borne out of wanting to change the ending.

A lot of the reruns of these episodes in my head end up with me doing what should have not been done. I tried to make it a happy ending in my mind, like talking to that girl I liked in school, instead of keeping my feelings bottled up. In fact, most of my bad memories were from feelings that were bottled up. I keep telling myself how I should have reacted when kids at school were picking on me and calling names. What I’ve done was normally to just shut up, thinking that silence was my best weapon. I ended up being a sitting duck, an easy target because people knew I wasn’t going to do anything.

I confused a lot of things back then. I thought that fighting back only worsened things. So I kept quiet. Defending yourself and being aggressive is two different things. What made it worse was that I kept everything bottled in, and when I couldn’t stand it anymore, everything would come out at once and I would lose my sensibility for a while. I did some stupid stuff. Seriously.

I once slashed a classmate’s face with a metal ruler, because I thought he went overboard with his insults. Bottled up emotions let loose all at once means that for a short while, you just don’t care anymore. You would scream in public, hit people with dangerous objects, throw heavy stuff across a room full of innocent people. I’ve done all that. And the regret you feel when you come back to your sense is always unbearable.

But what does this mean to the perpetrators? Do they feel how I feel? Nope. They see it as a form of cheap entertainment. “You know what, that kid, if you push him over the edge enough, he’ll do some whacky things. Go on, try it. If he tries to do anything to you, we’ll back you up.” My formative years, needless to say, were less than pleasant.

So what should I have done to prevent resistance from getting the better of me? First, let’s see what I did not do. One, I did not actually detach myself from the whole thing. When they were teasing me and calling me names in a free-for-all, no holds barred style, they could also see the tension building in my face. Even though I tried to show them that I wasn’t bothered by it all, my face gave me away. So they knew they were on the right track, and they went on until they got what they wanted. To my detriment, of course.

What if I did not resist what was happening? What if I just let them be there. When the words reached my ears, I let them be there. When the emotion stirred up in me, how unfair it was for a group of people to pull that on a single person. How cowardly. What if let it be there. If I did, I would have really not cared. They are just people, those are just words, feelings are just that – feelings. I would have been able to look them in the eyes – all 10 or so of them – and smiled a genuine smile.

I would have seen the humor in what they were saying, and laughed – really laughed – with them. They would see, in turn, that even though they kept at it for another 2 hours it wouldn’t have given them results. And they aren’t hard workers, remember, they’re here for cheap entertainment. And they would’ve gone off and scavenged for other easier prey. And I would have saved myself a LOT of heartache.

But what am I doing reliving the past, anyway? 😉

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