Resistance is when there is something you “know you should do”, but you don’t seem to get it done. Something you want to do (or at least some part of you wants to do), but for some inexplicable reason, you can’t get it to happen.
Maybe it’s something you want to do for yourself personally – some aspect of self-care. Maybe it’s related to a goal you have for your business.
Some part of you is holding back, stonewalling, procrastinating, etc. And I mean that literally – some part of you. A distinct person-like part of you.
Our culture encourages this idea of forcing yourself – you make yourself go to the gym, make yourself go to work, make yourself eat your vegetables.
I find this a horrible way to live. I don’t want to make myself do anything! I want my whole self to be on board with everything I do. And that’s what this process is about.
Imagine your body and mind is a business. You have a team of people, all serving their function. When things are going well, they work together in harmony and things get done easily.
But what if the sales department and the development team aren’t talking? What if the president is out to lunch and not listening to his employees?
If you are having a problem with one segment of your business, what is usually needed? More communication. Listening, discovering what is going on, and brainstorming a real win-win solution. This is the same process I do inside myself, and it works just as well.
Step 1: Identify a part of yourself that is in resistance.
This works best with something that hasn’t responded to other things you’ve tried. Or that feels hard and stuck in your body. Something you’ve pushed away or tried to change by force.
The part I’m going to talk to right now is the part of me that wants to stay up late and keep my sleep schedule something around 2 am to noon.
I want to talk to it because I know I feel better and get more done if I wake up at 8 or 9 rather than noon. I’ve tried forcing my schedule to change and have not had any success – so I know I need to dig deeper.
Step 2: Open a dialog with an attitude of exploration, not an agenda to change or fix.
Even though you do want to see a change, think of it as a separate entity, a person that you really can’t change. All you can do is listen really well, explain your own needs in an open and honest manor, and hope they want to find a win-win solution with you. But to respect them, you can’t try to change them. You need to approach your inner parts with the same kind of respect you would show a colleague or friend.
The inner person you are approaching might be very suspicious of you right now and you may have to do some clean-up work before they trust you. If you’ve tried to force them or change them in the past, they might respond with things like “You don’t really want to hear from me” or they might not say anything at all. They might sound like a surly teenager – they might be a younger part of you.
Keep trying, just like you would with a good friend who you genuinely care about.
When you talk to the part, try to guess what it’s feeling and needing, to let it know you are listening, that you care, and that you want to help meet its needs. (Yes, it really is just like talking to a person who is deeply upset).
In the example below, I’ve worked with this voice a little before, so we have some rapport. It is somewhat guarded but it opens up pretty quickly.
The more you work with a voice and show you really are interested in what it has to say, and are not judging or punishing or pushing it, the more it will trust you and just tell you what is up.
Here’s a transcript of my inner dialog:
Me: Hi, part of me that doesn’t want to go to bed. What’s going on for you right now?
Part: You don’t want to listen to me, anyway. You just want to write your damn blog post. You want to be famous and have people like you. But I want people to like us for who we are.
Me: Are you feeling lonely, like nobody knows who you are?
Part: Like nobody would like me if they knew me.
Me: I know you and I like you.
Part: You keep trying to change me, to get me to go to bed earlier.
Me: Well, I do find going to bed earlier works better for me. Is there another way I could get to know you? Tell me more about who you are.
Part: Well, I’m quiet. I like the night-time because nobody is up and I can do my own thing. I don’t have to be responding to emails and whatever, I can just do something creative on my own time. And it’s after work hours so I don’t feel like “I ought to be working”. I like to make things. I made that design last night. I couldn’t do that during the day, I never get an uninterrupted block of time. There is always something that has to be done, a phone call, an email. Like right now you were writing this and someone called so you got up and answered the phone. I don’t like that, I want to just work. I wish they would just read the website or something and stop calling me. Blah.
Me: It sounds like you really like time to yourself to be creative without interruptions.
Part: Yeah. You remember when we were kids, I would spend hours knitting and crocheting things? I always had 5 projects going and I wouldn’t finish half of them. =) I guess I still do that only with projects. Or in college, I would spend hours working on websites. We hardly ever get to do that anymore. I miss making something, having something to show for it. Answering the same questions every day doesn’t produce anything. Emails don’t produce anything. I like to make things.
Me: Sounds like the growth of the business and the customer service stuff we do is really wearing on you.
Part: Yeah, it feels like death. Day after day of trivial things and never making anything new.
Me: Sounds depressing.
Part: Yeah, completely. I started wondering if I even have any creativity left, I haven’t felt creative in so long. I was so glad I got that idea last night, and I’ve been making those cards. I feel so much better, but I don’t want to lose it again. I want to build my life around that, around making things. Maybe I’d want to get up at 9 if I knew I’d get to make things. I can’t give up my late night quiet time if it is the only quiet time I get. I don’t really know, I can’t be sure I’d want to wake up early, but it seems more likely.
Me: OK. I hear you.
Step 3: Do something.
Sometimes all the resisting part of you wants is for you to listen and understand it. But like here, sometimes you really have to change something about your life, because that part is YOU and you aren’t happy.
For me, this conversation with myself underscores a recent decision to find a Virtual Assistant to help with customer service.
Once I’ve made that change, I’ll see if the problem clears up, and if not, go back and talk to this part of me again.