The Nature of Resistance
© 2014 by Patrick Moore
Practically everyone wants to lose weight. All you have to do is to eat more naturally and exercise naturally, at the same time. Why is it so hard? Because we have resistance.
Everyone, it seems, wants more from life. To get more from life requires certain changes in behavior. We need to reduce certain behaviors and increase others. Simple. Why is it so hard to change and grow? Because we have resistance.
Many of us develop diseases, or other become burdened by other challenges. Therapies and counseling can help us to resolve, transcend or embrace these challenges. The therapists and helper people make it sound simple. But its not. We resist the ones who are trying to help us.
What is the root cause of resistance?
I am writing this short paper because in my teaching practicing body therapists, I find they were not taught in their original training what the cause of resistance is. They take it personally when recipients resist therapy. They feel frustrated and wish to screen customers, so that they could have the ideal career working only with those who are willing. I have done a lot of reading on the topic, and if there were one book that explained for therapists why people resist, I would direct my students to this book. Books by counselors (Kottler, Compassionate Therapy – Working with Difficult Clients) are good at listing the signs, methods and secondary gains of resistance, (for example, that it slows or stops change, which is feared) but not the root cause (why fear change?). Two of the earliest books by A. H. Almaas, Essence, and Elements of the Real in Man, describe well why people resist rediscovering who they really are, but he makes the process appear very complex and requires us to sign up for his special classes or receive special therapy only he can provide. The process is much simpler and all therapists can be of service, even massage therapists, once they understand the nature of resistance.
Yesterday when I taught, one student asked a very good question about resistance and I found I could not answer his question without explaining a few things first. It took me about fifteen minutes to describe this in words. When I was done, the students' eyes had glossed over and drooped. They asked if this stuff was in their handout and I said no, but if they emailed me I would provide it for them. So today I am writing it down. (This is all based on things I learned from Stephen Bruno, who was a counselor since 1970 and a pioneer of lifecoaching in the 1980s with his Southwest Institute.)
The root cause of resistance is fear. This shows up as fear of responsibility, fear of visibility and fear of change. Another way to see these fears is they are all fear of being natural.
What is natural? Who are we, at the deepest core level? The essence of each living being is seven things:
- Unconditionally compassionate,
- Vulnerable, and
This list is similar to the list of four virtues that Plato wrote about, and the list of the six perfections, or ten, that Buddhists talk about. Though he did not list or number them, Jesus gave talks about most of the seven things, frequently emphasizing unconditional compassion and nonjudgment, and he demonstrated all seven in how he lived his life.
The seven things are not virtues or perfections, because virtues and perfections need to be perfected—we do not possess them yet so we need to gain them. The seven things are not skills and strengths that we have to condition ourselves with repetition to develop them. The seven things are elements of our true nature. We are already these seven things. We were born with them. Babies are being the seven things. Have you ever met eyes with a baby in a supermarket? They can make contact using eyes, even before they are supposed to be able to physically focus their eye muscles. Babies are naturally being their essence. This is why Jesus said to be like the little children.
At this point you may be thinking, wait! Humans are not compassionate! What's he talking about?
What is the true nature of a human being? Most people would say humans are by nature selfish. Human nature is seven things, most people would say:
- Conditionally loving (to those in one's family, group or nation),
- Distracted, divided, incongruent,
- Controlling and overly focused on security, and
- Hubris, know-it-all.
The evolutionists say human nature is defined by the selfish gene, which naturally competes and takes every advantage so that it can survive better than others. The phrase for this is that Nature is red in tooth and claw. The creationists say humans are fallen, we are created already in original sin. Either way, we are not the seven things but the opposite, if you listen to either set of experts.
If human nature is really the seven things, how does it happen that most people will say human nature is the opposite? That is a great question, I am glad you asked!
The question can be answered on the large scale by describing the culture. The question can be answered on the individual scale by describing the personality.
We live in a culture that emphasizes self-importance. The culture teaches us that humans are competitive by nature, and that you are entitled to press your advantage as far as you can get away with, short of theft and murder. Humans weren't always this way. Our bodies, teeth and brains are unchanged from humans who lived 50,000 years ago. But they lived as animals—that is, they were still being natural. Something happened between then and now. Rather than trusting nature to provide enough food, one person decided to gather and store food, to capture live animals he could eat later, put a fence around them, and guard this fence with weapons. Many copied this new idea, which tempted others to steal the animals, to raid and conquer. This is how our culture of self-importance was born. We have inherited this culture. It is not natural, it is not human nature. Each generation needs to instill self importance into the next generation. This is done through parenting and schooling. Schools reward those who comply with the cultural values and beliefs, and punish those who don't, by teacher approval disapproval and grades. Parents teach their children to feel you are specially entitled among humans, you are entitled to more than the rest are. Even Native American cultures teach their children to feel specially entitled, though they do this to a lesser degree than Western cultures.
On the individual level, we are all born with an essence and a personality. The personality is designed to assist us in dealings with others, finding our way around maps and the marketplace. The personality was never designed to be the leader of the person, but because our parents model self-importance for us (as their parents did for them), because our parents rewarded us when we were like them and punished us when we were not, our personalities swelled with self-importance, a false sense that we can control things, judgment of others and oneself, impatience, incuriosity, distraction, and conditional love, given only to certain special ones and only under the conditions they love us first.
The culture continues to reward those who are distracted and teaches us to feel entitled (self-important), even in the face of wars and global catastrophes caused by advantage-taking. Our personality continues to reward itself to maintain entitlement, even in the face of diseases and personal suffering caused by a lifestyle of entitlement.
The essence is influential enough that at any time it could step in and take over, to lead the person well. But the essence is non-self-important and patient. It can wait. Our essence does not judge our personality for this mischief. The essence will wait patiently until death and then some, and still in most people the personality does not release its attempts to control and maintain self-importance, until the moment it dissolves.
This is the root cause of resistance. Personalities fear being natural.
Here is an overview of our resistances, in light of the seven elements of essence.
- We fear vulnerability. In our insecurity we react, knee-jerk fashion, to defend our security. Ironically our overemphasis on security blinds us to natural perceptions that would increase our safety, vitality and life quality. Our culture teaches us that attempting to control things and to keep things the same without changing, increases our security. But this simply is not true. Vulnerability allows us to experience intuition which easily guides us to safety. Animals are naturally vulnerable and have access to intuition 24/7. Their intuition often leads them to safety, to food and to other precious gifts life offers. Being natural is not a guarantee that no harm will ever come to you, but at least by being natural, you are not blinding yourself to harms that are on the way. Furthermore, by resisting being natural, you inhibit your own natural immune system so you are more prone to everyday diseases and cannot naturally rebound from life-threatening illnesses. Your safety, vitality and quality of life is greater when being vulnerable, than it is while attempting to control and defend security. Still, we fear what we vividly imagine "out of control" would look like, we fear what we imagine "defenses down" would look like, and so we resist being vulnerable.
- We fear visibility. If people could see who we truly are, we fear, they would judge us. Well, who we truly are is seven things that are pretty nice. Wouldn't you like for people to see you as the seven things? I would. Perhaps the reason we fear that if we were more visible, people would judge, is because we judge others. We check with ourselves. We ask ourselves, would I judge someone else for this deed or trait? If the answer is yes, I would judge others for this, then we will fear that others will judge us. The cure for this fear, is to not judge others. Then when we check with ourselves and ask if we would judge others for this, our answer will be no, and then it will be safe for us to be visible. Another reason we might fear visibility is, we are already embarrassed about who we are or what we've done. We have regrets. This indicates we judge ourselves. While we refrain from judging ourselves we will not feel embarrassment or regret. In these moments we feel free to let our light shine, no longer do we feel the need to hide our lamp under a bushel. The cure for judging oneself, is to refrain from judging others. We can't succeed at being nonjudgmental with ourselves, until after we have a few successes refraining from judging others.
- We fear unconditional compassion. We think that, were we to allow ourselves to be compassionate once, we would be drafted into God's army, and we would have to die for a cause like Socrates, Jesus, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King Jr., or that we would have to do service 24/7 like Albert Schweitzer and Mother Theresa, ceaselessly giving our possessions to others until we are in greater poverty than they are. While these humans were wonderful examples of unconditional compassion, these are not the only ways to be unconditionally compassionate. Unconditional means (among other things) that nobody is left out, including oneself. There are a lot of others compared to only one of me, so the ratio of one's efforts, when we are natural, will be weighted toward others, but unconditional compassion is not selfless. Another misconception is that, once you try unconditional compassion you will be hooked, drafted to do it always and never stop. You can stop. You can commit to being unconditionally compassionate one hour a day, five days a week. For that hour, you will be of service, even though it is not comfortable or easy, even with those who irk you, even with your enemies. Nothing drafts you do more. No superior being expects you to do more. No Cosmic Judge judges you if you do less. We are free to experiment, to be really compassionate for a month then take a year off. Yes, you might begin to value it, you might begin to prefer being unconditionally compassionate, but this is not coercion, it is an exercise of your freedom. You don't have to die for any cause and you don't have to give away all your possessions (unless your attachment to possessions hinders you from being unconditionally compassionate).
- Fear of responsibility. Your essence is responsible. Your personality is not. But what your personality fears, is not natural responsibility. Your personality fears an imaginary villain that it calls "responsibility." We fear that being responsible is the same as being held responsible. Ick! Nobody likes being held responsible. But even the worst misdeeds we have done—how responsible were we in those moments? Did we really choose to do that mischief freely, based on clear understanding of the outcomes, consequences and harms? Did we really understand our own motives and inner pressures? If we did not, then we were not literally responsible, though we were accountable. Next, the personality fears that responsibility means, always doing right, never doing wrong, always serving, never indulging, never making mistakes, never doing anything that will later be regretted, always following moral codes, always doing what others would agree is responsible, never taking a day off, never experimenting, always being polite, never hurting other people's feelings, and so forth. It is easy to see why we fear this definition of "responsible." But think about it. Would you want to live your life that way? Even if you did, is it possible to be perfect? Nobody is perfect. Even Jesus got angry and threw tables around, hurting feelings and perhaps bruising a few people. The view of "responsibility" we fear, is not even close to the essence of responsibility. The essence of responsibility is response. Responding. Yes, I got angry and had an outburst, but now I'm going to respond to my reaction. Yes, someone was hurt--I commit to find a way to make this better for having happened that way.
I believe when we have more accurate views about what being natural really entails, we will fear it less. But replacing our old views with more enlightened ones, is a challenging process. Though the change can happen in a nanosecond, most of us struggle for years or lifetimes until we feel we are safe to allow ourselves to slide naturally back into ourselves.
I believe this explains why people are resistant to change, to growth, to discovery and to therapy.
Those of us who are therapists or helpers should know this. It really helps us understand why recipients are resisting us. It is not personal, there is nothing wrong with us, though they may make it appear that way in order to resist their own forward movement.
Furthermore, we therapists must realize and admit we, too, are in the same pickle they are. We also resist being natural. We also fear responsibility, visibility, change and the unknown. We should admit this to those we work with. When we are vulnerable to share our imperfections, others feel safe to resonate the same.
The seven things work better than any therapy.
When we are nonjudgmental and unconditionally compassionate with the people who come to us for therapy, they resonate, like sympathetic vibration. While we are not judging them, they are not judging themselves. While we are seeing them from unconditional compassion, they feel their inherent value. In these moments, they feel safe to change, to embrace their maladies and move forward. The seven things always works and never fails. It works when all technique fails. The seven things is the basis of that therapeutic relationship everyone writes about.
Beyond therapy, the seven things works with any friend, family member, co-worker, or even with any enemy, potential criminal or growling wild animal. You look into their eyes and connect without judgment, valuing them for the seven things they truly are. The other feels the safety and value, and in that moment, they see you as a best friend and wish you as well as you are wishing them.
This has been a quick overview but I think it is enough to make it a consistent and understandable whole.
This material is copyrighted, © 2014 by Patrick Moore. You may pring one copy for yourself to read. I suggest a paper copy so you can write your responses and ideas in the margins. You may not copy/paste the contents to make a document, nor to send to others, but you may forward them the link. If you value what is written here, I recommend rather than copying what I have written, learn to explain it in your own words, and then you are free to do what you like with it. If these seven things do not seem right to you, come up with your own seven.