As soon as something requires a little effort or discomfort, the mind will send a little resistance. A part of us, though, is willing to carry on. It may not be clear where the resistance is coming from, but it triggers an internal battle-of-will. We want to do such and such, but we don’t feel like it. Is this internal conflict normal and what do we do with it?
There are, of course, many types of resistance, I am just referring here to the resistance one faces when one is trying to adopt a new habit or practice. The first few days are usually relatively easy; we have the motivation, and we are noticing some form of progress. So long as we give the new activity or practice our full attention, things fall into place. Usually, it is when we meet some form of difficulties that things become a little more challenging. The activity becomes less desirable; it requires time, energy, and effort. It is at this point that the resistance may appear to be an issue. It is a natural reflex: part of us detects discomfort and will do all it can to avoid it.
Firstly, it is valuable to listen to it. It might be a useful intuition. For example, our immune system might be quite low and going for a swim may make it worse. However, the fact that it is a feeling does not mean that it right either. It could be an old fear disguised as an emotion that is not valid in the present situation and worth going beyond.
Secondly, once we have a better idea why the resistance is there, we can turn it around to our advantage. We can become grateful for having the resistance, and consciously understand the consequences of the choice we will be making. It may be uncomfortable to enter the water at the beginning, but as soon as we overcome the first sensations, the experience may be positive and beneficial. A lot of the time it is a case of “feel the fear and do it anyway”.
Lastly, we can learn to recognise the resistances that are not useful or even that sabotages our endeavours. For example with writing, I know that resistance takes the guise of procrastination. The mind will actively seek another activity and often rationalise things like: “you really ought to tidy your office first…” Pausing and giving it a little attention can usually help us redirect our priorities and this can even give us a lease of energy.
Resistance to change is normal. The first step is to acknowledge it. The second is to turn it into an ally. The third is to rise above it.
One sentence journal – day 9:
“This may be a little childish, but the beginning of a new month always excites me; June is here, and so starts my ZenPlan journey. ”
This blog is part of a renewed 42-day writing challenge inspired by Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits Book.
Photo: Lola Guti