What we resist persists. How many times have I heard that one and not understood what it meant? What is resistance?

Resistance and Pain

What I have learned is that we resist because we don’t like to be in pain! Ouch, that’s interesting because what I just yesterday figured out through my research is that when I do persist I am in more pain. Take, for example, traffic. I live in the DC area, and for those of you who live in or near a city, generally this is pretty blatant. There is so much chaos and unpredictability that most people in these areas are already on edge. I noticed this when I moved back to the area I grew up after living in rural PA for a long time.

I had finally learned to relax in my driving after being up there and when I moved down here it took me about four or five months (if that) before I started getting sucked into the energy and chaos of driving around here. I was able to understand why people get so angry when they are driving; it started happening to me. But then as I watched what was happening to me, I began to realize that if I drove at my pace (the speed limit or a little above) everyone would be flying by me, switching lanes, driving crazy and I would feel relaxed. Until yesterday, I did not understand why that was happening for me.

When we recognize pain coming up in our lives, WE DON’T WANT IT! We will pretty much do anything both physically and emotionally not to have to deal with it! That is both a gift and a detriment! But the magic of this, if magic is what you want to call it, is the whole reason we resist pain is that we are set up to do that in our brains. It’s based on fear from back in the day when people were being chased by tigers! So our bodies are set for fight or flight, but in our society, generally there are no tigers. Well, maybe the other drivers in the major cities!

Anyway, what happens is that the stress that is caused by the imaginary tiger allows the adrenaline to release in our bodies. In the case of a real tiger, we are either meant to flee or fight the large cat. What do you think we would do in that case? Once we (and our bodies) take care of the situation by fighting or running, we use up all the energy provided by the adrenaline. Well not so much in traffic. Our bodies know to go through the same thing whether it is a real or imaginary tiger.

I will give you an example. Think about a lemon. Most of you, if not all, should now be feeling your mouth watering just at the thought. See what I mean! Isn’t that cool? Yea, for the lemon, but not so much for the tiger or the traffic.

Ok, so what happens next is that now you are sitting in traffic or driving SSSLLLOOOWWWW in the heavy thick of it. Some jerk, there’s always one, decides he wants to be Mario Andretti and starts speeding up and cutting in and out of lanes at light speed. Now, what happens? We watch as he cuts in front of us inches away from our vehicle, and are already bracing ourselves for an accident and the pain of it. But he doesn’t hit you. Whew! But wait our bodies have already released the adrenaline. Now, what do we do? We can’t run to get out of the way, and we can’t fight the person because he is miles ahead by now. So the only way for us to resist the pain and anger of that whole situation is to start yelling and screaming at the person. We tell him what a f****** asshole he is, and we start pounding on the steering wheel and want to catch up and yell at him (of course with the windows up). Problem is … wait for it … HE CAN’T HEAR YOU! And good chance he doesn’t care anyway, or he wouldn’t be driving like that. So what is happening now? A load of adrenaline in our systems that by that way breaks our systems down. And we also store more anger. Bad news, it doesn’t go away, it stays there because we have no way to release it. These days, the only way to release stuff like that is through exercise or breathing (remember fight or flight?).

The Point of Resistance

Which now brings me to the point of resistance. It’s like a vicious cycle; it certainly isn’t linear. We resist what persists, and we do it for protection so now every time something comes into our life that is already causing us pain or is about to, we go right into anger because well that is where we are on a daily basis from all this crap and adrenaline building up.

There is one thing that you can do. It comes back to living in the moment. When I drive at a reasonable pace, and the world flies by me, I feel a thousand percent better, calmer and more peaceful and believe it or not, that is what I am after.

So think about when you resist something; generally, that something is outside of yourself. You can control your mind, but you can’t control what goes on outside of it. So instead of resisting the bullshit and the pain outside yourself and causing continued pain inside yourself, try something different today. Just admire the crazy, chaotic life outside of yourself and don’t react, just be, see and feel the difference. I know it may take some practice, but it is well worth the effort!