Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Human Resistance Factor

Resistance is a human phenomenon derived from a natural survival instinct. Now, this human resistance factor mostly acts against our inner well-being; inner well-being exists regardless of any conditions, externally or internally. We’ve still been fighting, not for the survival of our life but for the survival of the self.

This fight is what we must let go. It is this fight that denies us inner contentment, peace and spontaneous joy. These are always with us in every moment; we need only let go to connect completely to this natural state.

There are many areas affected by our human resistance factor. We resist change, consequences, alternative perspectives and certain stimuli. Dissecting the effect of these areas of resistance is ongoing. Also, we begin a conversation on explorative resistance as it relates to not just ourselves but others as well.


Change is all around us and inside of us. Change is constant, whether we’re aware of it or not. It’s our resistance to natural change that can completely obstruct us from enjoying this moment. Think of all the times and all the people that resist against the change inherent in the weather. There are occasions when weather does intersect with our survival; these occasions are rare, extreme and usually quite obvious. We do have a long-term impact on the weather, but in this moment we have minimal if any effect on current weather. To make weather an obstacle to joy, peace and contentment, then, is a self-induced situation. Only we can rid ourselves of that obstacle by realizing we’re not going to have it our way.

Beyond the external changes, the changes inside of us should not be ignored. We should not resist the day-to-day changes that are inherently part of daily maintenance and aging of the body. Here, the notable changes are trends and not the details of the changing current state. Aches and pains are normal; fluctuating bodily functions are normal. Resisting these normal states actively with external methods can create a multitude of consequences, some predictable, some much more subtle.

Sometimes, medical intervention is necessary. When we decide on a medical intervention, we should not resist against the side effects of the intervention. Instead, we could make those side effects work for us, not against us.


Resisting consequences extends the damage and the longevity of those consequences in our daily life. Also, it leaves us ill-prepared for the potential and probable slate of unintended consequences to the initial action. Consider that we’ve made a tough but necessary call and now we’re focused on the pain and suffering that decision exposes us to. In the aftermath of these decisive moments, we should avoid resisting any consequences. If we are not open to the consequences, we cannot completely catalog these.

We are resistant to not only consequences of our own decisions, but to the natural consequences of living in a changing world. A tornado creates amazing devastation. We don’t just leave the devastation; we perform salvage operations to extract what still has use and clear away what no longer does. This may be emotionally or even physically difficult, but if we focus on those difficulties to natural disaster instead of actively engaging in the salvaging of the wreckage, we’re not as efficient or effective as we could be.

There are consequences to ownership and stewardship as well. A house has maintenance requirements just as a car does. By being resistant to these concerns, usually the consequences grow more severe.

Don’t ignore consequences; work with consequences. We determine how we navigate all of the consequences in our life. Learning to work with what’s going on is so critical to making life work with us as opposed to against us.

Certain Stimuli

We all have blind spots in our intake of sensory information. Physical limitations do exist in our sensory apparatus; total loss or limitations may exist in hearing, taste, touch, smell and sight. Other limitations do exist. These limitations are self-imposed blind spots and can be evidence of the unwillingness to let go. It’s as if we’re using only the rearview mirror in navigating our vehicle. The vehicle, here, is not just our body but our entire life. It sometimes works out, but when it doesn’t the damage can be severe.

Besides the obvious physical sensory information, we sometimes are blind to emotional cues from others and of ourselves. We try to overwhelm these emotional cues with distraction, overstimulation and ignorance. We can use distraction to avoid awkward discussions, emotional topics or controversial debates. Overstimulation is used to silence anyone or anything else. And, when someone brings about empathy or a guttural emotional reaction, one option is to ignore it completely. Instead of simply listening to every word, we offer nothing productive whatsoever.

We also have blind spots to our own emotional cues. This is similar to when we place our hand on a scalding hot stove and not reacting immediately by removing our hand; it makes no sense. Emotions act similarly as the nerve endings in your hand; emotions are trying to tell us something about what’s happening. We must begin to become aware of our emotions and attempt to understand what it is these emotions are trying to tell us.

Alternate Perspectives

We also resist against alternative perspectives to our immediate and past circumstance. This is due to our self-limiting view of reality. The more perspective we can apply to a situation, the more effective and efficient our response. We want to use telescopes and microscopes as well as our own senses. When and how you examine something depends on what it is being examined. When examining the moon, we use microscopes to examine lunar rocks brought back to earth and use telescopes to examine the actual moon orbiting the Earth. We want to use the most effective perspectives for the current situation.

Perspective isn’t just about the method of examination. Sometimes, it’s the broader timeline that’s important not to forget. It’s like eliminating a person from your life without looking at the bigger picture. Maybe, this person is in the midst of a crisis, internal or external. If we refuse to look beyond this moment, we can begin eliminating people from our life because of one unfortunate moment brought about by a series of circumstances and situations. Once again, trends are more important than exacting the response or the action that we feel we need from someone right now.

Explorative and External Resistance

Explorative resistance can have a productive and probative value, especially if this resistance is against your own self and your own view. Here we discover the fine line in resistance. Mostly, the resistance to change, to consequences, to stimuli and to alternative perspectives is an internal resistant problem to external events. Resistance plays a critical role in the transformation of life. The key is to not attach value judgements to that explorative action and to avoid the pitfalls of guilt and shame.

We also must be careful in explorative resistance to other people’s situations. These other people may not be open to doing anything differently in their lives. This doesn’t mean not to use explorative engagement as an attempt to alleviate current pain and suffering of others.

We must be prepared, however, for the inevitable resistance by anyone, including ourselves, as we attempt to help or actively understand ourselves and others. We must be prepared of the natural human resistance to transformation. After all, it is human to resist.

1 comment:

  1. One must be careful not to impose one's own interpretations on others. The arrogance of believing that others want to adopt or adapt to an individual's different philosophy is common. Sometimes one must allow others their space, their views, and their choices of how they wish to think...even if it is different from your own. meg