Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
When I read that part in Stephen Pressfield’s book The Art of War, it struck such a deep accord that I often go back to it whenever I feel resistance.
The majority of my life had been an expression of this dichotomy – an expression that is aligned to familial, cultural and social ‘norms’, and an expression potential of the truth of myself.
Why do so many of us leave our dreams unattended, only to be seen in the far reaches of our minds?
Why do we extinguish any hint of light that might spark to form the truest and most genuine desires of the heart?
Why do we sacrifice our true potential in order for others to manifest theirs?
Why is there so much resistance whenever we go towards what feels inherently right?
There are many reasons for resistance, here are common ones.
Resistance to Living our Truth
Fear of Judgement
When I was in elementary school I was part of a musical where we had to perform to Singing in the Rain by Gene Kelly in front of a large audience. We had to wear raincoats and carry umbrellas onstage. We were backstage in preparation when I realized that my umbrella was broken.
I was horrified because it meant that I would not be able to operate my umbrella during the performance. It meant that I would not be in sync with the rest of my peers on stage. It meant that everyone would notice the kid with the busted umbrella.
It meant that everyone would laugh at me.
So I went onstage holding the umbrella partly open because if I let it close I would not be able to open it. I was so worried of looking like a fool that I had a death grip on the shaft of the umbrella with one hand, and on the open and close button with the other.
Any kind of performative activities especially in front of our peers can arouse such intense fear that we balk at any opportunity that could put us in the crossfire of criticism and rejection.
We also plan the sh*t out of everything in order to feel like we are in control and avoid any disasters that may attract internal and external criticism.
Fear of Making a Mistake
Fear of failure or making a mistake can be so debilitating that we can get stuck in analysis.
Some of us are conditioned to analyze different scenarios to mitigate or avoid disastrous outcomes. But we are so afraid of making a mistake that either we do not make any decision or we create resistance every step of the way.
I am going through this process now. Canada has been my home for most of my childhood and adult life. But last year I embarked on a surrender experiment – I sold everything, and left behind my community in search of a new home.
This has been an arduous process second guessing guidance from Spirit every step of the way.
In my heart, it is clear where I would like to set roots. I was gifted this answer since last year, yet I tried to circumvent making a mistake by throwing all the spaghetti on the wall and waiting for the one that sticks.
This manifested in living all over Costa Rica and Mexico, even though I already knew where X marked the spot of my abode.
VeryWellMind defines shame as “a feeling of embarrassment or humiliation that arises in relation to the perception of having done something dishonourable, immoral, or improper”.
Shame is harmful when it is a persistent emotion that leads to harsh criticism of ourselves and beliefs of unworthiness and not being enough.
I have an intimate relationship with shame. Sometimes when unchecked I can spiral down into depths of darkness catalyzed by the belief that there is something inherently wrong with me.
The following is a friend’s personal account of a recent experience of shame she felt when she posted a video of herself dancing and acting silly on Instagram.
I had a lot of fun recording it, Harlow, my daughter, and I had a blast. Harlow was actually really surprised I wanted to do this, and she was more embarrassed for me and nervous for me than I was.
I had no fear doing the video, it was so much fun. I love being funny, I was always the class clown in school and I love making myself and people laugh because it just lightens up life for me.
But over the years I got really stern, especially after becoming a mother. I think that’s a conditioning I got my from my mother – once you’re a mom you have no place having fun, enjoying life. You’re a fried up prune.
But part of me always wants to just do stupid s**t and rebel and I can only suppress so much before it surfaces like something destructive. And when I went to Costa Rica, this was the very first time in my life that I actually went for what I want. That move was not for my kids, or husband or anything. It was for me to find myself. And I let myself have a moment of that – that dance was one of those moments.
I was so eager and yearning to get out of this human suit I put on myself and that dance felt like so much fun and the guy who posted the challenge made his dance kinda dorky too. So he gave me permission to do the same.
The shame came after I posted because I was afraid my boyfriend would see it and think less of me or make fun of me actually. Even though I love to make people laugh, I absolutely am terrified of being reprimanded by someone like him. Someone I gave so much power over me.
We have all felt shame. And we also have shamed others.
Social media is a hotbed of collective shaming. We’re in an age of the cancel culture where we’re so quick to destroy people’s lives and dignity.
I’m not condoning bad actors, because there are that exists, but I’m referring to those who who knee jerk chastise others because of a mistake or for just being human and imperfect.
It is no wonder why we are afraid to put ourselves out there.
How to Start Living Our Truth
Face Our Fears
ACIM teaches that there is nothing to fear because fear is an illusion.
When I started on my spiritual path and came across this universal truth, I had difficulty understanding it. How can fear not be real when I felt the terror reverberate in my body and mind? How can fear be an illusion when it is the most real emotion I felt?
When I started to bring awareness into what I felt and thought, that was when it started to make sense. I began to observe that the rising negative emotions were caused by a fearful thought.
In my experience, the tell was my emotions. When I felt anxious I was able to retrace it to a thought. I learned to be present and vigilant so that I spiralled less.
Fear is merely a thought that we can choose to believe or discard.
When a resistant thought comes up, I ask myself is this true?
When I began publishing my writing online I felt enormous resistance. These were (and still) some of the thoughts that came up:
- Who do you think you are to be sharing your writing?
- You have nothing valuable to share with others
- Who would want to read your posts?
- This will be an epic fail
- You suck at writing
We have a tendency to catastrophize outcomes. That is the job of the ego – to warn us, to keep us out of danger, to keep us safe from harm.
This is helpful when we find ourselves in an unfamiliar area and we are trying to decide if we should walk outside at night. However, when it comes to exposing our craft and our passion, the fear is not as relevant.
Let us keep asking ourselves the question, is this true? And we will be genuinely surprised at the answer.
Make a Decision
I have been paralyzed with fear to a point that it was hard for me to make a decision. We all have a forever back burner where we put the things that are most fulfilling in our hearts in this place holder. I will get to it someday and that day never seem to materialize.
Not being able to make a decision is the result of our fear of making a mistake.
I have come to realize that making a mistake is also an illusion. I ask myself from which perspective is it an error? Which part of ourselves is judging the outcome to be bad?
Our experience in the world is never a direct experience. We overlay our interpretation of the experience based on our beliefs, wounds and trauma.
I have made many ‘wrong’ turns, literally, while living in Costa Rica, rich in nature and biodiversity, and not quite developed in some areas.
I have turned into many nondescript roads by ‘mistake’ only to discover beautiful waterfalls and deserted beaches.
But even if a pile of garbage greeted me at the end of the road, would that be considered a mistake? Maybe, but I go back out and go down a different road.
So when we’re at a choice point – whether we should write, paint, launch a podcast, climb a mountain, ditch the corporate job or end a relationship – can we eke out just a little willingness to take a step towards what it is that we desire?
Is there a willingness to let go of the potential consequences and lean towards what our hearts want?
Is there a willingness to not look at the end product – the book, the painting, or the podcast – as this can create intense fear, and make a decision to just write a few paragraphs, put the canvas on the easel, or speak into the mic for 60 seconds?
Stephen Pressfield said that at the end of each day he no longer measures success by how many words he wrote, instead he asks himself: did I write anything good today?
In my experience, surrendering and trusting our higher Self, the Universe our Source or the Divine, has been the most challenging. Letting go of control is not easy.
The other day I found myself filled with doubt. I felt overwhelmed. I felt alone. I made significant changes over the last year forging an unknown path and I was afraid. I did not know if I had it in me to continue.
I then took out my journal and started writing. I exposed all my fears and doubts. The last part of the writing went like this:
Me: This is hard to do on my own.
Spirit: So let me help you.
Spirit: Let go of the reins.
I realized that I was fearful because I was trying to do everything on my own. I was not allowing the Universe to help me. I needed the reminder that I am never apart from Source.
I visualize myself riding on a horse buggy, and whenever fear would creep up or when I am spinning on negative thoughts, I hand over the reins to Spirit. I feel an instant shift when I do this.
Abraham Hicks said that if we can dream it, we can manifest it. We are creative beings and we are meant to create and live the truth of ourselves.
Mistakes, failures and wrong turns contribute to the richness of life. Contrast experiences help shape what we want and don’t want.
They also aid in unearthing the truth of ourselves. Through challenges and taking a leap of faith, we discover that we are resilient, strong, magnificent, creative, limitless, abundant and beautiful.
But when we are living based on people’s expectations, societal agendas or allowing fear to dictate our lives, we suffocate our true potential.
That is the death of Self.
Writer and globe wanderer, who's interests not only take her to distant corners of the world, but also to undiscovered regions of her inner Self. Proponent of the practice of ACIM, mindfulness, self-compassion, and gratitude, to transform her relationship with daily life challenges.