Thursday, November 8, 2012

Resistance vs Aversion

I  have spent so much of my life doing the “right” thing, making myself do things and participate in activities (like certain jobs) or hang with people I didn’t like or even intensely hated. I got very good as submersing my feelings and just getting on with it.

The backlash began more than five years ago, while I was employed as a graphic designer for a bank. Or maybe even before that when I found “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron or maybe even further back when my children were young and I ended up on my own with them while my then husband worked in a distant land making tons of tax-free money.

In any case, or even in all cases, the impetus grew in me to yield to my true desires and feelings, growing stronger over time until I can no longer make myself do anything I don’t feel like doing. Some have treated me like a recalcitrant child informing me that “adults” get on with it.

That is as may be.

However, I have also had many so-called “peak” experiences discovering that wonderful feeling of well being when I am in flow, doing what I enjoy, which makes me happy and is congruent with my inner direction. This is most important! When I do these things my blood pressure lowers, I lose the desire for overeating, I am energized and optimistic, and, I am sure, improving the quality of my life as well as lengthening it.

Why would I ever do anything I didn’t like? Anything that didn’t concur with my inner adviser? Anything that was incongruent with my true nature?

There are a lot of reasons. Some of them involved surviving childhood, adolescence, and “making a living.”

I am averse to participating in activities that cause my blood pressure to rise, that stress me out, make me unhappy, or put me to sleep. In other words, I don't like things that are bad for me or go against the grain.

Resistance is a bit more difficult to recognize. Resistance may come across as dislike, fear, rebellion, zoning out, or temporary amnesia.

To qualify: resistance is not doing something I really enjoy and is good for me. As opposed to aversion which is not wanting to do something I don’t like. Are we clear? Good.

So, to get on with it. When I am in resistance I sometimes get the same feeling as when I dislike something. How to tell the difference? When I dislike an activity that I previously enjoy immensely. That is resistance.

When I am in resistance I have fears — irrational fears, nebulous, unexplained fears. And then I get angry because I know I am resisting.

Resistance can be rebellion. As in, “No! I’m not doing this thing I like to do just because!”

Zoning out happens when I think about or plan to do an activity that is really good for me and that I like a lot. And the amnesia thing can happen when I remember only the bad parts of a great activity or when I forget that I have a lot of resistance around a particular activity.

To Illustrate Resistance
During the last year I lived in Richmond VA I discovered Yogaville. Going there was a spiritual and aesthetic experience — a double whammy because aesthetic experiences are spiritual.

I decided to return the following month, showing up for meditation at noon at the Lotus, having lunch, and driving back. The month after that, on the day I had planned a visit, I felt angry and irritable. All I could think about was the long drive (1.5 hours one way) and all the other things I had to do. So I didn’t go.

It didn’t take long before I felt horrible. All month I noticed the sinking feeling and lack of spirituality that came from not visiting.

The next month on the planned day, I forgot about the resistance and was about to cancel the trip when I remembered that all the negative feelings were just a part of the process. I’m not sure where all this crap comes from. Some of it comes from the anxiety of being afraid that the thing I really like to do will not happen as planned.

Eventually I saw all the feelings I had: anger, frustration, fear, and zoning out as a self-defeating way to keep myself from having a wonderful and renewing spiritual experience — something I loved and which was good for me.

All of this to tell you that I have resisted writing all day. I will now go and finally write because I have caught up on all the niggley things I’ve put off for weeks. There’s really nothing left on today’s list but to write.

And here’s another form of resistance: preferring to do things that are boring IN COMPARISON TO the thing I need, want, and plan to do that is good for me.

Oh! And here’s another dumb thing I do: put off actually doing the thing I want to do because the anticipation of doing the fun thing feels so good. I don’t know. I might be crazy.

Caveat: these “fun things” generally involve creativity like writing.

Gak! Why am I still here? Think of how many words I could have written if I had worked on the novel instead of blathering.
Something I worked on and finished today instead
of writing my novel.

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