When we fear something, or focus on what we do not want to experience, we create resistance within us that actually puts us more in alignment with what we don’t want than what we do want. But what does resistance really mean and where does it come from?
Resistance is basically pushing against something. So imagine that you want to get from one room to another but there is a wall in between. If you decide to push against the wall, that wall will resist your push and, therefore, it won’t budge. But if you open a door and walk right through it to the next room, you will be using your logic and ability to ease your way into the room next door. The wall is just there, it is neutral. It is your perception of the wall and your decision to push against the wall or find a way through it that will actually determine your experience with that wall. If you keep pushing against it, nothing will change. But if you allow it to be there yet find a way through it, then you will come out the other end better for it.
Now, think of a tree swaying in the wind. If the wind is strong and the tree doesn’t budge, it could very well snap. But if the branches ebb and flow with the wind, they will become more flexible and less likely to break. They allow the wind to flow through them without judgment and they dance with it as it passes by. Just look at a tall skinny palm tree, for example. If you think about it, it kind of defies logic how it remains standing with those dimensions. But it stays standing because it is flexible rather than stiff.
So, how does all this relate to real life? Well, if we are afraid of something we too are pushing against it. When we don’t want to experience something we can actually feel our resistance to it as it can often appear in our bodies as a knot in the stomach or a tightening of the throat. Think about that for a moment. Think of a time when you really didn’t want to do something or you were really afraid, how did you feel? How did that present itself in your physical sensations? Now think of a time when you were excited to do something and enthusiastic about it. How did that feel in your body? Probably quite differently, right?
The key to getting over your fears, doubts, anxieties, insecurities, and negative thoughts and feelings, then, does not involve focusing upon them even more and hoping for the best. Rather, it is by releasing your resistance to them that they dissipate. That does not mean you suddenly feel fearless or more secure. It doesn’t mean lying to yourself either and pretending like you don’t care. Instead it means relaxing into the flow of whatever you feel and allowing yourself to feel those emotions without resisting them or even judging them (or yourself for having them). Let them come, bring them on, not because you want to experience them more but because you want to release their power over you.
When your body is not tense that is when you know you have released your resistance to something you don’t want or like. And when you have released your resistance you will then be free to focus on what you do want to experience and enjoy moving forward.
I’ll give you an example: in the past when I would experience a panic attack, my first instinct would be to try to resist it. I would try to push it away but in doing so I would exacerbate it even more. My breathing would become heavier, my thoughts would go to dark places, and my focus would solely be on getting rid of the panic. I was all tied up in resistance and it only made my experience worse. Worse still, I would often even get those panic attacks because of my expectation and anticipation that I would. As such, I had already been resisting the fear before it even showed up.
But then there came a time when I realized that if I wanted to get rid of my panic attacks I would have to relax my way into them and through them. I had to stop anticipating them. And I had to stop pushing against them if/when they did show up. So what did I learn? Well, first I learned that we need to accept ourselves for having our fearful thoughts and feelings because when you repress, suppress, and feel ashamed of how you feel, you are only creating more resistance within yourself. Instead, you must learn to accept yourself, how you feel, and how you react to the world around you. Once you release your self-judgment you will also release a lot of the resistance created from that. So if I was having fearful thoughts, or even a full-out panic attack, I would tell myself: “Even though I feel this way, I totally love and accept myself.”
Next I would resign myself to the experience. Now it is very important to note here that resigning myself to the experience did not mean giving up, losing hope, or being a victim. Instead it meant realizing that even if I would have a panic attack, or I was indeed already having one, it wouldn’t kill me. I was powerful enough to handle it and I would not allow it to control my life anymore. I basically placed myself in control and in a power position and perspective where fear could not thrive.
So, instead of resisting my fear I would let it flow through me and I would try to observe it as objectively as I could. Now I know that being objective is really hard to do while in the midst of a fearful experience, but this can be one way of dealing with it and lessening the blow. All you need to do is to try to distinguish between a real threat and an imagined one. Once you do, it will become much easier to be objective because, more often than not, your fear is only imagined and so the more you can logically assess the reality of the situation, the more you can become more distanced from your fear.
For example, if I was driving and couldn’t pull over or if I was in a meeting and couldn’t just get up and leave (I mean I could, but it wasn’t the most ideal thing to do), I would relax into my feelings and fears without giving them power over me. I would ground myself in the actual experience I was having, like driving or listening, and I would try not to fight my feelings or push them away. I would try to get out of my head as much as possible, whether that was by tuning into the radio, noticing things around me, or feeling the seat underneath me. I would also vow that I was okay and that I would be okay no matter what. Furthermore, I told myself that it would pass, like it always had before. (BTW - Remembering past triumphs is a great catalyst for cultivating courage and a change in perspective.) But if none of that worked I always knew that if I really looked for one, I could always find some sort of exit strategy so that I could take my time to regroup. (Sometimes we feel like we can't leave when, in reality, all an exit strategy really takes is a willingness to make a fool of ourselves, which is, in fact, only a matter of perception too.)
Finally, I would focus my thoughts on key words like, peace, calm, and tranquility and tell myself that I was replacing my fear and anxiety with these better emotions. I would then envision my anxiety and fear exiting my body like a dark cloud that only existed outside of me. When I did this I noticed myself starting to feel lighter, like this anxiety was no longer a part of me but rather something I was objectively observing from the side. Then I would envision that dark cloud dissipating and transforming into a light bright energy. At that point I realized that the darkness had no control over me and that I could ask it to leave any time I wanted to.
The above is only one example of how to release resistance from your life. But no matter what you are resisting, know that you too can learn to relax and let go into the flow in order to attain the results you desire. Whenever you are afraid of something, angry about something, sad about something, desperate for something, or nervous about something, you can always take steps to actually release your resistance, rather than feed into it, so that you can align yourself with a more desirable experience.
So stop pushing back against what you don’t want and instead lean into accepting yourself and allowing yourself to feel how you feel, and then transform your negative emotions to the lighter side of things by not focusing so much on what you don’t want, but rather on what you do. We think that worrying will somehow prevent what we’re worrying about when, in reality, it only perpetuates our fears even more. So instead, focus on the state of being that you do want to have, and know that nothing can truly get in your way of that, not even yourself.