To Resist or Not to Resist
“What you resist, persists.”
When you have an unpleasant feeling, an ongoing problem or when you find yourself in a bad situation, how do you address it?
For example if you’re bothered by constant worry, do you try to ignore it … to stay busy … to think about something else? If you’re angry, do you reach out to someone who agrees with you about things, and who will reinforce your right to be angry? If you dislike being overweight, do you give yourself negative messages and tell yourself that you’ve got to exercise and go on a diet?
When we’re unhappy and we know that something has to change, it is the way we think that will determine our ability to make the desired change. The words we say to ourselves – our “self-talk” – reveals our ideas about how to handle stresses and frustrations. When we believe that upsets should be resisted or fought off, and we act on that belief, we may not always be happy with the outcome. If we don’t figure why that is the case, we can look forward to some tough emotional times.
So, if a person notices that resistance to upsets doesn’t always work, why in the world would that person keep on resisting? Is it stubbornness? Stupidity? Inability to learn from mistakes? It may be that people who habitually resist all their upsets do so because, in their way of thinking, a failure to resist feels like weakness and makes them vulnerable. Or maybe they just don’t know any other way to react.
Here is a case in point. A married couple, clients of mine, were out to dinner with their twelve year-old daughter. At one point the girl asked the waiter a series of questions about the restaurant. Her parents told me that her behavior annoyed them. The dad, who tends to be more strict than his wife, told their daughter to stop it. Her response? “Don’t yell at me.” The dad’s belief about parenting dictated his reaction. Specifically, he feels a duty to correct his daughter’s inappropriate public behavior. Okay, there’s no problem with that idea. The problem is that he only knows how to correct her by imitating his own father’s old school approach: do as I say. Thus, his habit was to put up resistance to the unwanted behavior. As we talked, he, his wife and I arrived at a different strategy to help them deal more rationally with their highly sensitive daughter, and to get her to follow their rules and comply with their wishes.
These situations are not easy to handle in the heat of the moment. I suggested that the parents take time on a regular basis to think ahead in order to prepare themselves mentally for other such incidents.
The trick is to learn when to resist and when not to resist. Thus, we will have acquired a nugget of wisdom. If you experience frustrations that are hard to cope with, and if this concept speaks to you, you might want to consider pursuing it further. Books, videos, podcasts, all these sources of information are easy to find. But if you’d like to explore it with a professional, please feel free to reach out. The number is (219) 309-3928. I’d be honored to be of service.
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Thanks for reading!