by Calahn de la Luna, Director of The Blackthorne School, Instructor of Intro to Traditional Witchcraft
Resistance can often come up for us in unexpected parts of our lives. It’s not unusual for it to come up when we’re learning new things, even things we are excited about! Resistance can reveal itself to us in a variety of ways. Your body is your greatest friend and tool in helping you to identify and address resistance.
There are a few different things to look at when we experience resistance.
Take, for example, trying for the first time a spiritual practice that is new to you. Sometimes resistance, if unexamined, can block us from achieving our goals. You might have signed up for an online course that you are really excited about. For weeks you’ve waited for with great anticipation! You begin, only to find that there is a new practice that for some reason stops you in your tracks! You can’t seem to do this practice, even if you set aside time for it. What the heck is going on?!
You might even have feelings of shame come up (Hello!, inner critic!) about this resistance that you can’t explain. You might try to motivate yourself by saying negative things to yourself and get stuck in a shame spiral. Or feeling anxious about falling behind. Or you might not even register that it is resistance. You might simply fall off the wagon with taking your course that you have waited for so long. All this despite the fact that you know the knowledge will be a great benefit to you and your practice.
In order to keep yourself from falling into one of these negative patterns, you can work through resistance! You can actually gain a great deal of personal insight and awareness from it! It’s as simple as asking yourself the right questions. It might even help to journal about it, or talk it through with a trusted friend or instructor.
If resistance comes up for you, here are a few helpful questions you can gently ask yourself about it:
Question # 1: Is the resistance based in fear? What is the fear, specifically?
If your answer to the first question is yes, it is based in fear: Is this a fear I’m wanting/ready/able to work through right now? Is this the way I want to do and feel safe doing that personal work?
If no, ask yourself: Do I feel fully supported in doing the personal work in a healthy way? Or do I need to obtain more support or more information? Do I need to discuss with someone else who has done the practice their experiences with it? Is there something else I could modify to make the practice feel safer to try?
Is the resistance based upon past trauma? If so, then the trauma likely needs to be processed and healed. This is best done in conjunction with a trained professional to guide you. If you try to face a trauma-based fear before healing it, you can be retraumatized. This can be unhealthy, painful, and can even be dangerous for you.
It is important to have self-compassion if you are simply not ready to work on fear and resistance. Be gentle with yourself! Notice the way you talk to yourself, and try to talk to yourself as you would a best friend. This stuff can be painful to work on! As humans, most of us are wired to avoid pain. But the rewards for working through it in a safe and self-compassionate way can be life-changing.
If you ARE ready to work through the fear: Is the fear based in an unhelpful belief about something? If so, what is the belief about what will happen if I do this? If I think about that objectively, is that a valid concern? Or is it something I need to rewrite the narrative about for myself?
If you want to rewrite your narrative about what might happen, it is helpful to first write down your belief:
Ex. “I’m afraid I will fail if I try to do this new spiritual practice.”
Then rewrite your narrative into a positive statement of inspiration and hope:
Ex. “Trying new things can be difficult. And the only true failure is if I don’t try at all.” or
Ex. “I give myself permission to be imperfect in my execution of new practices. My love and respect for myself is not dependent upon me doing things perfectly. Especially the first time I try them.” or
Ex. “I can respect myself for trying new things, even if they are hard, imperfectly done, don’t end as planned, or I decide they are not for me.” or
Ex. “I can devote myself to three months of devotion to Hekate. Even if this does not become my lifelong path, it will still be a valuable, meaningful, and potent learning experience. I can translate this learning into other parts of my practice, regardless of the end result.”
Question #2: Is the resistance based upon my brain resisting change, which can look like avoiding trying new things and going out of my comfort zone?
Sometimes the power of inertia is difficult to overcome. This is a biological mechanism for survival. We are wired to want to conserve energy and to follow the safe and predictable path. Thousands of years ago, when we were wanderer-gatherers, we would learn one path to the water source. We would learn everything about it: what animals lived nearby, any possible dangers along the way, etc. This was to keep us safe when we were most vulnerable: alone and away from the group.
Our brains today have not caught up with our modern way of life. We still are wired to think that minor surprises, changes, and risks are the same higher level of risk we might’ve had thousands of years ago. What was predictable and we had done a hundred times was what was safest. Today, trying new things is a huge part of our world and is an enriching part of most people’s lives.
Often we will resist what we actually need the most; the thing that is the best medicine for us. This can happen for a variety of reasons:
- Low self-esteem
- Negative beliefs (Ex. “I don’t deserve better.”)
- You are getting some kind of reward, consciously or unconsciously, for continuing with the old way of doing things. (Ex. You are exhausted and your body needs rest after work instead of spending extra energy on something new.)
You want to implement this new spiritual practice. But that takes time, energy, research, investment. After a long day of work, you may not have the energy it requires to engage at that level, despite your desire to do so. In that event, it sounds like you could do two things:
- Look at your calendar and schedule the practice into your day and week. Choose a time that you will have enough energy and capacity to fully engage.
- Sometimes we need to give ourselves a gentle push and or motivation to follow through. This can look like a reward for doing the practice.
- Ex. I implemented a morning practice by not allowing myself to have my first cup of coffee before I did my practice! This may sound cruel and unusual, but it continues to be remarkably effective!
- This can also look like getting support and extra motivation for implementing the practice. For instance, you might connect with a working partner to encourage you and keep you accountable for showing up. This can be a learning style accommodation. It is a-okay if you work better in a pair or group!
Question #3: Is the resistance based upon a practice not feeling aligned, or “off,” or not feeling right for you?
This is your intuition and/or your spirits communicating with you through signals and feelings in your body. These signal-feelings likely direct you along a path that is healthy and beneficial for you. It is wise to listen to the wisdom of your body.
For this one, I’d recommend taking a full stop. Identify in what way it feels unaligned or “off.” What are the pros & cons of doing or not doing the practice? Is this something that can be changed to make it feel fully aligned? If nothing can make it feel aligned, sometimes our intuition has gathered information that is still subconscious. It would be wise to wait to do the practice until you do feel aligned.
Question #4: Is the resistance based upon personal preference in terms of simply not wanting to do it?
That is valid! Though I’d suggest you look very closely at this one. Sometimes resistance to change and leaving our comfort zone (see Question #2) can be super tricky and slippery. Resistance to change often can masquerade as this. But there is a way to tell the difference between resistance to change and personal preference. Your body holds the key.
When you’re having resistance to change, it often feels like our inner self throwing a tantrum. As if it’s coming from a young child part of ourselves. I’d look really closely at that sort of response. It might be good to challenge that sort of resistance since we know that type of resistance is often not working in our best interest.
But a personal preference comes from a more resourced and calm place inside of us. Kind of like if you’re choosing dinner on a menu. The calm feeling you get when you decline one dish and choose another because you prefer the taste.
I hope that is helpful to look at and tap into the ways your body speaks to and directs you. You do not have to feel helpless and mired in your feelings of resistance. As you see, there are many things you can do to to actively address and move through resistance.
If you still have questions or would like further assistance in navigating feelings of resistance, I am here to help! To create an achievable plan to implement a spiritual practice that is fully supportive of your needs and your life, schedule an appointment with me today! I hope this new knowledge helps you move forward in your practice. Overcome your inner resistance to meet your goals in a way that is fully aligned and healthy for you!
Blog Article Copyright © 2021 by Calahn de la Luna. All Rights Reserved.
Calahn de la Luna, founder of The Blackthorne School, is a Traditional Witch and practitioner of pre-modern British sorcery as well as being a poetess, an artist, art therapist, creative consultant, and spiritual mentor. Calahn’s spiritual practice is heavily centered around working with the spirits of the land and the elements, and is deeply animistic in nature. She also works in Greek and folk currents.
Calahn offers private and group instruction in cultivating a practice in Traditional Witchcraft and sorcery, and provides private consultations on spiritual development, mentorship, counseling, and creative project coaching.