Resistance or Resilience?

March 15, 2021

I had a tiff with my workout trainer.  He was 25 minutes late starting a session.  Always ready for a reprieve when it comes to exercise, I texted to pass.  Shortly thereafter, he cancelled another session with no reason—just that “I can’t make it.”  I felt I merited an explanation and asked at the end of our next full session. 

He uses Skype to do virtual workout sessions.  In response to my question, he explained that some people have technical difficulties connecting with him and that this delays ending some sessions on time and causing subsequent ones to start late…

And, then he added forcefully, “If you are unhappy with this, I will happily refund you the remainder of your payment.  You can find another trainer.”  I persisted and asked what happened when he cancelled in the morning a couple days later our subsequent afternoon session.  He responded, “I couldn’t make it.”  And repeated, “I will happily refund the remainder of your payment.”  This all occurred within two minutes. 

I was stunned.  He was quick to escalate my questioning to ending our relationship.  I asked for an explanation, not a severing of our client-trainer connection.  He has been my trainer for more than two years, and he does a great job knowing what I am capable of doing and not doing, what diverse exercises are best for me, and what proper form enhances the benefits of an exercise.  He is an essential component of my weekly life, not to mention my health and wellbeing. 

I ended the conversation asking him to understand that I have a schedule, too, and to be sensitive to that.  We agreed that we would see each other in a couple of days for my next workout. 

The Aftermath

Initially I was pissed.  And then I concluded, my angry feelings were not helping me.  His skill, time and attention were what I wanted and superseded the emotional fallout of this momentary shutdown.  I still wanted them in spite of the occasional cancellation or inability to meet.

I’ll admit I am always seeking to forge closer relationships with the individuals I have enlisted for help.  This trainer will have none of that.  His most recent behavior has helped me to see things in a different way.  For example, after particularly difficult exercises, I have told him that that was demanding, painful or I just didn’t like it.  In fact, on one occasion, I said, “I extremely disliked that one.”  He responded by labeling my comments as complaints.  I said they weren’t complaints, just observations. 

Well, that exchange popped into my thoughts after our most recent tiff.  In conversing with myself, I discovered he might have a point.  Am I resisting his expertise?  What if I didn’t comment?  What if I stopped telling myself it was hard, painful, and I can’t wait until it’s over?  What if I just focused on the exercise?  It takes energy to think those thoughts and even more to articulate them.  And even more if I am waiting for a response.  I might be able to master the exercise more easily if I held my comments.  I might be able to enjoy the workout just a little more. 

So, I made a decision.  Quit resisting.  Go with his directions.  See how resilient I can be.    

One of my clients was stuck in her clutter. It wouldn’t move, or more precisely, she felt paralyzed by it…until she decided to register for my class “Consciously Clearing Clutter.” She knew she needed help. Once she accepted the fact she needed assistance, things started happening:

  • She altered the boundaries between her and her husband. Initially he couldn’t understand why she needed to take a class to help her with her clutter and discouraged her from doing so. Now he applauds her decision.
  • She cleared the clutter from her home office. Before the class it was a room she shuttered to enter. Now she feels energized and eager to work there.
  • She felt hopeless before taking the class. She kept telling herself she was a failure. Now she sees the results of her initial efforts and is committed to keep going. Failure is not an option.

You’ve heard this story before, but what happened? Why the change? Some will say it’s serendipity; her need and the class converged at the right and perfect time. Yes, I agree, but before that could happen she reached a critical point. I suspect her thinking went like this: “Things are so bad. I’ll never get out of this hole alone. If I want to clear my clutter, I’ve got to approach this differently. Since I don’t know how, I’ve got to get some fresh ideas.”

Looking at the Shadow

‘Resistance’ is a dirty word when we’re confronted with an issue we believe we need to overcome but seemingly cannot. My client couldn’t address her clutter. Resistance blocked her way. Every time, I suspect, she felt resistance, she beat herself emotionally and issued repeated “Stop Work” orders.

Her resistance, however, served a purpose. It kept her from addressing the issue until she was ready. It was highly unlikely any substantive work could have been done until she was ready to confront it squarely. At first blush, clutter seems like such a straightforward commodity to address, yet anyone who organizes and de-clutters without investigating its deeper issues will probably be mystified by its inevitable recurrence.

In her book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers shadow expert Debbie Ford wrote, “Most of us are driven by the eight-year old within us. That child who didn’t get his needs met is begging for acceptance.” Ford goes on to say that if we delve into our memory as far back as possible, we’ll remember the trigger for a particular unmet need. Because it is so far in the past, we are more likely to remember it with compassion and better able to identify the origin of its power.

“If we don’t shift our perceptions of our true selves,” Ford asserts, “we’ll be stuck repeating our past behaviors.” My client began my class seeing herself as a failure and ashamed of not being able to clear her clutter independently. By the third class her self-perception had shifted. She had completed class assignments, shared her victories with work colleagues, and recreated greater balance with her husband. More importantly, she was committed to continuing the process. She wanted to deal with her clutter once and for all.

Shifting Out of Resistance

Ford claims we can tell what work is left unfinished by identifying our sub-personalities. Sounds psychotherapeutic and probably is, but stay with me for a moment. Ford believes you can find out what you need to do to resolve any recurring patterns of behavior (e.g. habitual clutter).

She suggests you get quiet and go within. Call forth any person in your subconscious (i.e. unresolved relationships, lovers, family, friends, heroes and spiritual leaders) and let that person appear. You can access anyone you know by going within. Start a dialogue with him. Ask advice on what to do about a particular issue. Listen to what that person has to say. Give him time to respond. You’ll get the answers you are looking for.

These so-called sub-personalities await your call. They want attention and acceptance, and if you give them that, they will return it with love and compassion. Ford writes, “If you befriend yourself, you’ll break the continuing cycle of loss of self or loss of others…By reclaiming everything you hate about yourself, you open up a world within where you have access to the entire universe.”

Embracing Acceptance

Here’s the exciting news: By embracing a seemingly insurmountable situation, you position yourself for personal transformation. You gain an awareness of self you didn’t have before. You not only discover but release powerful energy, knowledge and resources you never knew you had. All that pain was simply a catalyst to move you to a higher spiritual plane, where freedom, happiness and calm reside.

When you find yourself being resistant, acknowledge and honor your feelings. They are real and deserve attention, but when you are ready, seek to accept whatever situation you confront. Look for its blessings because that will lead you to a better place—to your own personal transformation. You’ll discover acceptance is a mighty motivator.

Bev Hitchins © 2012