We hear about resistance every day in the TMS communities. Other than doubt and fear, it's the biggest barrier to recovery in my opinion. Who on earth wants to face their emotions and traumas? Who wants to spend time every day soothing our nervous system and implementing habits to heal? Who wants to consistently work on their behaviours and set boundaries with loved ones and confront unhealthy habits? Who honestly wants full responsibility over their own recovery?
It's massively empowering but that doesn't change the fact that it's utterly exhausting and seemingly never-ending.
I know so many of us resist doing any introspective work such as journalspeak - even though that work is a deep act of self-care, of self-love.
When we think of everyday self-care, we think of relaxing, eating, watching shows, doing nothing, but, these are the kind of things that require no real effort on our part. Unlike healing "work" - that requires active participation on our part. So, why do we resist what ultimately helps us feel better? I have a few thoughts on this. OK a lot, stick with me.
Our primitive brains perceive change as threatening or dangerous even if we think that what we're looking to change is of benefit to us. So no wonder we're coming up against it so much.
Yes, resistance is a tricky bitch. But as soon as I decided to admit it and find others that were doing the same thing, I could actually think more clearly about why I felt that way, and what was behind that resistance. And out of all the things I came to learn the biggest was probably this: RESISTANCE IS ACTUALLY ON MY SIDE! It's been tricking me into believing that when I resist I am safe.
One of the most important parts of this journey is learning to realise acknowledge and accept these things for what they are, even to feel compassion for them for getting us this far.
Change is about going into the unknown, while what we have right now is familiar and comfortable, even if we’re suffering within it. Although pain and suffering are impossible to live with, it may be the only normality that we know. And that acts as a kind of dark comfort, coherence and familiar scenario. The 'curse of comfort' so to speak.
Moving from a place of self-criticism and frustration to a place of acceptance and surrender makes resistance a lot easier to face. Understanding why we do the things we do gives us the opportunity to change them with grace!
When our resistance is a deliberate opposition to therapeutic initiatives, I think there's an element of lack of trust at play, in ourselves and our ability to make this work for us. Like, what's the point? This is bullshit and won't work for me. Especially if you've been trying hard to recover for some time and coming up against setbacks, worsening or different symptoms. If you KNEW 100% that this work would work for you, maybe it would become easier to commit? Do you think it works for others but it won't for you?
Ask yourself this - because this work is an act of self-love - would that make you avoid it?
Self-shame also creates more resistance. Maybe you think you don’t deserve to spend time on and be nice to yourself. When was the last time you willingly nourished your emotional and spiritual well-being, taking time to get to know yourself in more depth?
If we were brought up to place more value on our achievements over our happiness when we were younger, or if we grew up in environments where these practices were frowned upon or ridiculed, we might feel a lot of resistance to being nice to ourselves. We may have been led to believe that our suffering didn't matter, told to 'man-up' or 'get over it' or 'could be worse'. Focus on everyone else's wellbeing but never your own.
After a couple of months of doing this work, I learned more about the importance of noticing these traits and leaning into more self-acceptance. I learned to accept that I was OK the way I was and not to pick at myself for it.
The people-pleasers among us may resonate with this, I've felt this in my own yoga practice. I rarely practice on my own because it's easier to give to others in class than it is to give to myself. Doing something loving towards yourself might feel scary. I'll cook you an elaborate three-course meal but if I'm home alone I'll eat a few biscuits or a crappy packet of noodles, or nothing at all... familiar?
As you start any self-inquiry journey, it's natural that you might be afraid of facing what you've been repressing. Taking a peek at what might be lurking under the rocks out there is no walk in the park and sometimes it feels safer to just leave it untouched.
We may risk relaxing our bulletproof barrier of self-defence and finding out things about ourselves or our lives that we might not like...
Resistance might come from doubting a TMS diagnosis or TMS work in general. Do you feel cynical towards this approach maybe?
Trusting a process - especially a slow process that might not contain many obvious light-bulb moments and requires time and patience is really difficult. We might not feel like we are in control; it could seem like we’re putting our all in and getting very little in return. I don't think I've ever had any major eureka moment in my personal development; just steady (and slow) progress.
I need to get this dead right or what's the point? This is so new to me, what if I'm not doing it right? Of course I'm not doing it right, it's not working...
An important part of my journey was learning to accept that those thoughts might never change and to show up anyway but also to have respect for my resistance and the many ways it was trying to protect me. Our resistance can be infuriating, but it’s developed for very good reasons.
Who wants to be obligated to do something? Not me! this is hard work for the most part. Once we start to resent having to do this work, resistance swoops in to save the day! Resentment for having to do this work because of a lifetime of things outside of your control or entirely someone else's fault? Fuck no! Ugh.
Our symptoms can be our whole life. Suffering is the known world we live in, to unlearn that normality is scary and can seem like an impossible mountain to climb. We've tried everything the doctors and specialists have suggested, nothing has worked, no wonder we feel so stuck!
We are habitual beings, in how we cope with our feelings and our behaviours. Emotional suppression quite possibly saved us, and now we're faced with unravelling all of that in order to heal. We're literally trying to drag our lifelong habits out of subconscious autopilot and into a more conscious manual mode. That alone is NOT easy.
The good news is, our brains are changeable, neuroplasticity allows us to reprogram old habits, create new patterns and start to show up for ourselves in new ways. And most importantly - when we feel the tug of resistance to shut us down - we do not shame ourselves for it because we understand its role.
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. ~ Carl R. Rogers
If you made it this far, thanks for getting reading. It took me a while to publish this piece because I had so many thoughts on it, I hope this is in some way helpful. I guess the biggest takeaway for me from all this work is - treat yourself and your experience with empathy, meet yourself with kindness and patience at EVERY turn, your body is your best friend and is just trying every way it knows how to love you.
"Come Home to Yourself - mind-body evening rituals" mini-course includes various tools to help you embody your feelings and overcome the daily resistance by making healing work inviting and comforting. It includes evening journal prompts and writing exercises, new TMS themed somatic meditations, affirmations, restorative yoga, breathwork and much more, created to help you through your own recovery just like I did. Find out more about my course.
If you'd like more insight into my yoga work click here - yoga for TMS, also if you're new here check out my Recovery Journey Roadmap and let's connect on social media, I'm on Facebook or Instagram and post daily insight and inspiration over there.
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