In a recent conversation with a dear friend and life teacher, I learned a big lesson on resistance and support. This person expressed that their capacity for anything was incredibly low. "People think I'm so much better than I actually am. They see me functioning at my best -- at 100%, and the reality is I'm usually a $^@&!*& mess. Right now, I'm at 1%."
Oof. I know that place.
I know exactly what it's like to be in that place. I know what it's like to be somewhere you really don't want to be and desperately clinging to something, anything that will get me outta there! I wanted to help. I wanted to fix it. Of course, that makes sense -- someone I love is hurting. I feel that hurt, and I want to make that hurt disappear for the people I love. That is what love is, isn't it?
Here's big lesson NUMERO UNO... It's not my job to fix their hurt, no matter how much love and care I have for them. And in fact, the harsh truth is that I wasn't really trying to fix their hurt. I was trying to get rid of my discomfort, the part of me that didn't want to feel the hurt. The part of me that still doesn't trust myself to be with the struggle of less desirable emotions.
The wiser part of me that knew what this person was reaching for was acknowledgment. To give myself a teensy bit of credit... I did acknowledge first. The wiser me said, "it's okay to be where you are. It will pass, and you are loved no matter if your capacity is 100% or 1%".
I should have left it at that. But Noooooooo... the part of me that likes to fix things couldn't resist. There wasn't a single request to be coached or to get help and change the situation... They didn't ask for it. But I tried to give it nonetheless because I felt my love and acknowledgment were not enough.
Time for a lesson from this beautiful friend. This perfect teacher.
Unprompted, I lobbed in with my best effort to coach. I offered practices and resources and ways of relating to this place.
"I know I"m strong and resilient and resourced AF!
but I also feel weak sometimes, and fragile and just not capable. And I feel that truth gets dismissed because other people don't want to see that part of me."
Here's where I should have just STOPPED. They clearly didn't want to fix this. They wanted to be SEEN and HEARD in this place. They want me not just to say, 'it's okay,' but to be honestly okay with their vulnerability... to simply, yet courageously sit in the uncomfortable place where this person didn't feel their best, or anything close to it.
This person's Inner Little is saying, "please listen to me! Understand that I don't have it together. I'm not fine!"
To that Little, I am sorry. Sorry for not quieting the fixer in me, sorry for not taking the time to stop and truly listen. If I'd been truly empathetic, I would have heard. I would have remembered that when I'm in that place, I don't want help. I don't want to be fixed. I simply want to be heard and seen. To have someone validate my experience. To give me the recognition to give myself permission to validate my emotions. To remember... I'm real. This experience I'm having is real. To give voice to my sadness. To say yes, I am sad. I don't have the capacity for more. To stop resisting my truth.
This place is the trickiest. It's quite a counterintuitive approach. Or rather, it is countercultural and precisely intuitive. Ya know what I mean?
When we don't like a place, we avoid it like the plague. If we are in an unsavory place, we want to go straight to problem-solving. How do I fix this situation? How do I get out of here?
Unfortunately, this strategy doesn't work in the long run. We have to accept the place that we are in order to truly move forward. Otherwise, we are carrying a lot of heavy baggage around that will inevitably catch up to us. The good new is, when we can muster up the courage to face the icky emotional truth, we realize our strength. We can really be with whatever we are feeling. We can feel our feelings (novel concept, amiright?!). And just like magic everything shifts. We realize, whoa! If I allow myself to feel the weight of this depression, if I acknolwedge that it's heavy and I'm waaaay down low to the ground... the heaviness gets just a little bit lighter. If I can stop pretending, I'm not somewhere else, if I'm not resisting the truth... my state becomes coherent. Now, my energy can move. Now, I have even a fraction of a percent more capacity to ask... what now?
BIG BIG LESSON NUMERO DOS!
This conversation gave me a great lesson... I was trying to help my friend get out of that icky place, when they really needed to hang out there, at least for a moment. They needed to hear from me that it's okay to be there, and that I can be with them and love them exactly as they are in that place.
I was looking for a way out of the maze for this friend. I was trying to find solutions to a problem that needed to be fixed. But this HUMAN BEING is not a problem to be fixed. And their body having almost no capacity was a beautiful gift trying to tell them something.
But I was lacking deep presence in that moment. I was trying to throw every solution and the kitchen sink at the problem to make the 'bad' feeling go away. Finally, my friend said something courageous and beautifully authentic.
"I realize I'm really resistant to coaching right now."
I felt the pang of sadness hearing that truth. I could actually feel where this person was and that pain helped me recognize that I was trying to stuff away the experience.
BE HERE. HERE is beautiful too. HERE is full spectrum living. I can be with this resistance.
I told my friend "Thank you for telling me. I love you. Where you are right now perfect."
WHAT IS RESISTANCE?
I often times find myself looking up the etymology of words to better understand true meanings and how they might have evolved over time. This particular word hasn't changed much, it's Latin root resistere means to hold back. Deeper in my search, I did come across this definition from an electronics blog:
Resistance is the hindrance to the flow of electrons in material. While a potential difference across the conductor encourages the flow of electrons, resistance discourages it. The rate at which charge flows between two terminals is a combination of these two factors.
Resistance is part of the flow. Resistance is a necessary part of how energy moves through material existence. Resistance cuts off flow, but the current of energy needs resistance so it can to move in a different direction. That's what moves life.
In some instances, it's necessary to have elements that resist the flow of current; these are called resistors. And they're made out of materials which do not conduct electricity as well. As materials like copper and other metals.
We like to believe that our emotions are so complicated when in fact, they are not. They simply mirror the process of life, and we know this through physics and the understanding of how electrical currents move through metals. It's remarkably similar to the process of emotional energy moving through the material of our bodies. Resistors (aka negative emotions) are part of how the flow of life wants to move or shift in a new direction.
What if we could stop and bare witness to this magical process of life? What if we noticed resistance and accepted it as part of reality? What if we learned to love the process of living so much that even when we experience a part of us that is being a dreaded annoying resistor, we could catch ourselves and say, THANK YOU LIFE! Thank you for this perfect invitation to walk in a new direction! Thank you for the ever-moving flow of life and energy that I experience.
Sometimes accepting reality means I have to allow resistance to be just as useful and important as feeling the flow. Who wants to have all flow and no resistance anyway? That sounds quite boring if you ask me. Without resistance and friction, would we even be able to feel?
I think the whole point of this human experience is to FEEL things.
Hopefully, on some level, we can consciously recognize when we're in a moment of resistance and say to ourselves... 'Oh, right. I'm in this place of friction. I'm being a resistor right now. Oh, joy! This is gonna be a fun ride. It's gonna be uncomfortable. And I'm probably going to tell myself I don't like it. And that will be 1,000% true. I will not like it for many moments. And many parts of me will be like, no thanks! And then a whole other part of me can be in full acceptance with a deep appreciation for the value of some healthy friction.'
And so with this, I will close on the idea of resistance with a heartfelt wish that you experience loads and loads of moments of delicious resistance. I promise to love you in those places, and to not wish you out of your full spectrum human experience.