Resistance can feel like an internal game of tug of war.

One part of us wants one thing, and the other part wants something else.

Resistance can show up as:

  • Buying a gym or yoga membership and not using it
  • Setting the alarm to wake early, only to press snooze 7 times
  • Doom-scrolling way past your bedtime
  • Procrastinating on a deadline and then cramming all your work at the last minute to finish it on time.
  • Resisting joy, fun and pleasure – all work and no play.
  • Avoiding rest because we have trouble slowing down

I’m guilty of all these, too.

Ever since my psychology degree, I’ve had a keen interest in human behaviour.

And my take on resistance is that it’s not a lack of discipline or willpower.

There’s something deeper.

When we encounter a ‘resistant part’ of ourselves, we can tune in with curiosity and compassion to understand what motivates it. Behind every ‘negative’ behaviour is often a positive intention.

And when I tune into the ‘parts’ of myself that are resistant, it usually feels like a much younger version of myself who’s not getting her needs met.

And she’s having a tantrum to get my attention.

I find that when my younger parts are resistant, they are scared, worried or trying to protect us.

When I connect to those younger parts and offer them my calm, loving presence, I can lead them to safety and resolve the inner tension.

If we regularly find ourselves stuck in chronic procrastination and deep avoidance, we can ask ourselves these questions (with curiosity and compassion):

1. If I wasn’t avoiding this right now, what would I be feeling?

Sometimes, we use procrastination and avoidance to mask a deeper feeling. The only way to untangle resistance is to get to the root cause.

2. What’s the worst that could happen if I did this? What are the negative consequences I’m avoiding?

This can help us uncover any limiting beliefs or deep fears. Our younger parts may be trying to protect us from some perceived mistake or downside. Bringing our deep fears to our conscious awareness can help to reduce their power over us.

3. Do I feel unworthy? This is an excellent question to ask ourselves if we resist fun/pleasure or rest/relaxation. 

Sometimes, our younger parts need validation, which we achieve through our work or helping others. If we’re always busy and avoiding rest, it might be worth checking in with our younger parts, who are probably exhausted from proving themselves.

Now, the real benefit of untangling resistance is that it will free us to move forward in life.

Imagine what we’d be capable of if we stopped holding ourselves back.

Yoga builds self-awareness, and a foundational tenet of Yoga is Swadhyaya or self-study.

By studying ‘the self’ and recognizing our habits and thought processes, we become more aware of the things we do that harm us and also those that serve us.

This awareness helps the process of ‘uniting’ with our true Self.

The word Yoga means ‘union’.

It is a systematic process designed to quiet the mind so that we can connect with our Self/Soul/Spirit.

And the only way to experience that union is through practice.