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“I can’t see this working he said.” He said it with a tone and inflection both of inquiry, and hopelessness. That’s what resistance will sound like sometimes.
“Neither could I when I started,” I replied. “You can’t see how it is going to happen. If you could, you would know what the change and experience was. You can’t see what the view from the mountain top will be while you are still standing in the valley. You can’t see all the steps you will take and the turns you will make before you make them.” He heard me and then he changed the topic….. more resistance.
Answering his questions didn’t make the resistance go away. Nor did it spur him to action. Maybe the question wasn’t the issue. Maybe the questions were part of the problem. So maybe we have to look at that part of our mind that asks the question or makes the statement of doubt.
“I don’t see how this will work.” It was a loaded statement. It was filled with an attitude of hopelessness and like beliefs. “This won’t work. I’ll be just as unhappy after trying this as I am now so why even try.” The emotions were hopelessness, depressed, defeated, and that was before trying anything. It’s like his attitude of hopelessness was in charge of his, questions, his decision making, and steering him away from any actions that would help. It’s going to be a challenge when your belief state of hopelessness is determining your steps towards happiness. The answers to the questions didn’t cure the attitude.
It wasn’t that the man didn’t have faith. He had a ton of faith. It’s just that it was invested in the conviction that the whole effort to change his emotional state was useless. That’s a lot of personal power spent convincing our self that we are powerless.
He got this. He understood what he was doing as I pointed these things out to him, but that didn’t stop him from changing the subject and continuing to do it. Resistance is like that. We ask useless questions that run a convincing internal dialog in our head while avoiding any action. The result of all that circling dialog is nothing. We end up where we started.
The important piece to acknowledge about resistance is that it results in staying where you are emotionally. The questions about where the path leads, what turns will there be, how long will it take, etc are all keeping us from a step on our path. Those endless intellectual questions keep us stuck. Some of the smartest people with PhD’s are the best at getting stuck because they can ask endless questions.
What made a difference that day is when I asked him how he felt. “What emotions are you feeling right now?” Are you miserable, unhappy, tormented by anxiety, fears, anger, jealousy, or other emotional reactions? Just look at how you feel. How long do you want to keep feeling that way? “NO, I don’t wan to keep feeling this way” he said. “What do I got to do to change it?” Noticing how you feel is an action. Taking the time to really feel it is an action. With those clear perceptions, the motivation to change happened all by itself. When we are in the midst of unhappiness we ask lousy questions. Sometimes, the help we need, is just some guidance in asking better questions.
All I knew when I started taking my first steps was that I no longer wanted to be unhappy. I didn’t have a clue about how I would do it, what would work and what wouldn’t. I just knew that I couldn’t stay in the emotional cycles I was living in.
I didn’t know how long it would take, what the path would be, or even if it would work. The only thing I knew was that I couldn’t keep living in the emotional drama I was doing. So that’s when I decided to take action.
If you find your self asking a lot of questions about a process that you can’t know until you do it for a while you are probably asking the wrong questions. You are stuck. The unhappy part of your mind is asking the questions it doesn’t know the right questions to ask. Instead take a look at the emotions you feel and how often you do those same emotional cycles. Then ask your self how long you want to keep doing that. If that doesn’t motivate you to take action then you don’t need to go around in circles with questions. Or maybe get with someone who is skilled at asking better questions and will cause you to find better answers.
No matter what you do to overcome your resistance, you can be sure it will be a different action.1