Have you set goals and now feeling resistance to following through? Resistance comes up against all goals and attempts to change.
Learn how to identify, clarify, and harness resistance and make it work for you not against you.
Dr. Hart has been a faithful presenter at Pybus University. This is your fourth time?
I think so.
Yeah. I think so. And, so, we love having her in the Market. Unfortunately, the weather’s fighting us again today; so, I’m going to go ahead and turn this mike off. You turn your mike on, and then we’ll start the show.
So, welcome! Thank you so much for coming out. I’m Dr. Allegra Hart. I’m a naturopathic physician here in town, and I’m author of “Nourishing Space Within: Essentials of Self-Care”. And, I teach women and men how to care for themselves at a deeper level, how to learn to understand themselves, and listen to themselves so that they can heal mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And, my goal is to give them building blocks and tools and techniques so that they can really take back control of their health and learn how to care for themselves and their family at a deeper level.
Because, when we begin to listen to ourselves, and take better care of ourselves, we shift our quality of life; and, that’s really what health is all about – building that deep, sustainable, nourishing quality of life. Because, when we are able to take care of ourselves, we also then take better care of those we love, as well. So, we nourish our families better, our communities, and our world. So, when we take our time to care for ourselves, our being the change we want to see in the world; and, the more we can build that love and light within ourselves, the more we can translate that to everyone around us.
And, so, that is my goal for helping you understand this level that we’re going to talk about today, because resistance, learning how to overcome the resistance that we experience in our life, is a huge facet of nourishing our health.
So, have you ever made a plan with yourself? You’re going to do something that is going to be a very good thing for you? You’re excited about it? “Okay, I’m going to do this thing.” Whether it’s getting more sleep, eating better, exercising, journaling, walking. It doesn’t matter. The list goes on. You make that plan, and all of a sudden, you go, “Well, that’s going to be really difficult because, you know, then I’m going to have to get up a little bit earlier and have to go to bed earlier, or then I won’t be able to have this particular food that I really like, if I make this choice. Well, maybe I’ll start that tomorrow, then.” And, you wake up the next day, and you’re not really feeling so hot; and, you’re like, “Okay, well maybe I’ll start this next week.” And, it just gets pushed off. And, you begin to feel poorly about yourself because you’re like, “I really wanted to do that, and I didn’t actually make it happen.” And, so, we know we want to do something; yet, we find ourselves making choices that are counterproductive. And, then, we’re not feeling like we are moving forward in our lives, in this particular area that we wanted to, to heal.
And, that’s one of the things to be aware of, of what resistance is; because it can be so incredibly diverse and show up on so many different fields and different topics and different areas of our life. It could be, “Gosh, hey look, I got to go clean my house,” instead of going doing something else – to go for a walk that we know is going to be a better thing for our mental and physical health. “Oh, I want to eat better, but I need to finish off this box of cookies first because, otherwise, it’s going to be staring at me.” We begin to make these justifications and these reasons why we should wait a little bit. And, it might even be trying to avoid something more deeply. So, that resistance can show up as excuses. “I can’t do this because I might miss out on this,” or “Somebody else might be mad at me if I choose to make this different in my life,” which can be a big one. We want to please people, but if we’re making choices that are pleasing others but not nourishing ourself, it doesn’t help us build our health. It doesn’t help us be the best possible you.
And, we need to be really mindful. Being mindful is a key to resistance; because, when we’re not mindful, we get caught up in those excuses and go, “Yeah, I totally believe that I can’t eat better because I’ve got to finish off this less-than-optimal food that’s sitting in my cupboard right now, before I can make that choice.” “I can’t do that because I’ve got these other plans that are getting in my way to make that choice, so we’ll start that next week. We’ll start it next month, next year.” Have any of you had plans that found themselves jumping years, decades maybe, and you’re like, “Hey, I really wanted to do that.” And, how does that feel when you notice that this thing that you really wanted to accomplish, or do, or apply, in your life, has just not been created? You haven’t made the effort to create that space for it. Does that make you feel really happy and excited, or do you feel a little bit down on yourself?
So, by being able to look at that resistance, we shift that playing field. Resistance might be even showing up as boredom. You say you want to do something, and then you start shifting into learning how to do this new task, skill, way to eat, way to move. And, then it gets a little too routine, and so you feel bored and so you take a day off and you fall out of your habit. Or, you say, “Gosh, I just don’t feel up to it today. I’m tired. I don’t want to do that.” But, the fatigue one is a tricky one because, often, we are doing too much in our world. We’ve got this go-go-go mentality where we’re constantly having to do something or we don’t feel like we’re really being productive, and helpful, and the best we can. So, sometimes we actually need to listen to that and take the time to slow down and actually have nothing happening – shift away from doing to being.
So, resistance can also be running away from what we’re feeling, because oftentimes when we say we want to do something and then find reasons not to, it’s because there’s an emotional component going on there. It’s something that’s inside us that’s saying, “I’m going to have to rethink who I am if I choose to make this part of my life. That’s going to shift those core pieces of who I think I am and how I interact with myself and others. That’s going to be a bigger reorganization than I thought. Maybe I’m not ready for this.” And, so, we find those excuses, and we hang onto them and say, “Hey, I probably shouldn’t care for myself in that way. I probably shouldn’t go out and exercise on a regular basis because I got these other things that I need to do. People expect me to do this and that, so I need to spend my time there.” When we shift our priorities away from making sure that we can nourish ourselves first, we take a lot of potential energy off the table. It’s no longer available to us because we’re not nourishing the vessel that’s actually going to give us the ability to share more. And, that’s one of the core things of learning how to listen to yourself. When you listen to, and care for yourself, you then have the ability to listen to others, more deeply, more clearly. You can see through the drama more clearly if you are willing to listen to your emotions, your concerns.
One of the biggest things that we tend to run from, the core, is fear and anger. Might be something that’s really, we’re scared of doing. And, when we get scared of doing something, we tend to try to hold back a little bit, and hide ourselves; because it’s different than what we really understand. And, that core essence of who we understand ourselves to be helps us interact with the world. And, when we make a choice that’s going to push us out of our boundaries, out of what we know, there’s this deep part of our brain, a reptilian part of our brain, our amygdala, that says, “Uh-uh, no, no, no. We do not know what’s going on outside of this world that we know. We know this arena. We know this job. We know this way of eating. We know this way of moving. We know how to make it work.” That does not mean that any of those ways are ideal, in any way, for you. But, you know how to navigate it. You might be complaining and really unhappy in your head and in your heart, but you know how to make it work. You know how to get by, but life, in all its fullness and beauty, is not about just getting by. It’s about creating something beautiful and joyous, and being willing to bring the joy in every opportunity and day, and events, experience, that you possibly can.
When we get that amygdala saying, “Uh-uh-uh, no you can’t reassess what you’re doing here because that’s scary, so I’m going to put up these flags and make you think that’s not a good idea.” And, then, we’re going to start thinking about all these reasons to prove that right. So, all those excuses come up, and they just begin to fill us up. We’re like, “Right, I can’t do that because I’ve got this test. I’ve got this job thing. I’ve got to go do this and that.” And, so, we make choices outside of what we actually want to be doing. We don’t listen to our heart. We listen to our thoughts, and our thoughts are not always accurate. Have you ever had thoughts where you’re like, “What the heck was that? Seriously. Wow. Okay.” So, we’ve all been saying things in our head that we would never allow to pass our lips that we might be saying to ourselves. We might be saying about experiences. But, is that really always the core you? I bet that’s more the reactive you, the scared you, the one that’s trying to resist looking at what is annoying us, because we know that that’s a flag. When it frustrates us and those that we see around us, or in the actions that we keep doing regardless of our better judgment, are the flags for those deeper things that we need to work on, that we either are terrified that are true for us or we know are true and we really don’t like that about ourselves.
So, if you find yourself bringing up that judgments and complaining, that’s a huge flag that you are resisting looking at something that’s going on inside yourself. And, that’s where we need to begin. That flag. And, this is scary. So, we don’t go there. We’re like, “Oh, nope. We’re going to go look over here.” And, “Oh, look. Here’s something shiny. I’m going to play over here.” We get all distracted and watch a television show, and clean something a little bit more than we really need to, and go and schedule that other thing that doesn’t necessarily have to be done. And, we know we really want to be doing something else. That’s some nods. Yeah.
So, this is where we want to look at those things that are underneath it. And, this is where I want you to start thinking about your thoughts as just something your brain is running. And, I want you to begin observing them. Just start watching your thoughts. Start really listening to what it is that you are saying in your head. Are you saying positive things more frequently? Are they more negative? Is there a theme that goes into them? Are they condescending? Are they cruel? Are they complaining? Are they joyful? Are they curious? Start looking at your thoughts, because something really beautiful happens when we start to observe. It’s physics. You cannot observe something without it beginning to change. So, if we can start looking at our thoughts, we’re going to start thinking differently.
So, I invite you. I challenge you to start being mindful of your thoughts. Just watch them. Whenever you become aware that you’re thinking, because often we don’t even think that we’re thinking, but we’ve got this parade of stuff going on in our heads; so, once we are aware of our thoughts that it is running, then start listening to it. Start listening to what you are saying. What’s the theme in the words? Where do you find yourself jumping to judgments, assumptions, that may or may not be true? Those are going to be your flags, and that’s when your reptilian brain and your ego is going to go, “Oh, my gosh, no, it’s true because…” and start listing out all the reasons of why those thoughts and assumptions are true. Because it’s easy to stay where you are. It’s easy to just sit in your cave and not walk out into the sun. Because we know our cave is a small environment, we can assess it, does not mean that that is not keeping us small, though. And, evolutionary speaking, keeping ourselves small was a way to keep ourselves safe. And, that’s why we did it. And, we still got those wires in our head that run that way. And, so, if we can be really sure that we’re looking at them, then that’s going to change the playing field. Once you’re aware of your thoughts and the themes, then you can see when they flare up. When they shift into a darker area, to a more judgment area, to a more frustrated, angry theme, pick out those words, how they make you feel. Those are going to be important assets.
So, you start being mindful. That’s the first layer. What’s going on. You start observing, journaling. Huge asset. It’s very interesting. Something happens when we write down our thoughts. We can be more objective about them. We can read through them and look at them differently, and it’s a way for us to understand them. So, taking some time every day and writing down just a stream of consciousness, what’s going on, and then read back through it. That might be a way to help you see those words, those phrases, that come up more frequently, or that make you feel tight. Make you feel not quite so buoyant and happy and joyful. That make you feel heavy. That make you feel uncomfortable. Start looking at those, because that, my friends, is a flag that’s saying, “Oh, well. I’m mirroring something you’re really scared of.” And, that’s when we tend to get scared and look at other things, and say, “Oh, look, I got to go do something else. I got to do these other things.” And, we distract ourselves. Or, we blame. “Well, I feel this way because they did this, that, and the other.” You feel this way because that’s how you feel. Nobody else has the ability to make you feel anything. We make the choices on how we react. We cultivate those pathways to react and respond in a very particular way. And, when we’re mindful, we begin to have the opportunity to change that, to act in a different way, to make different choices.
So, we’ve got that objectivity. We’re watching. We’ve got that mindfulness. We’re looking at the words that we’re using, the phrases, the thoughts that are going through our head. And, with mindfulness, you observe it without judging it. So, when you see those words that go on, that are frustrating, that make you feel not too well, one of the common tendencies is to then be frustrated with ourselves, “I’m wrong for thinking that. I shouldn’t be thinking that. What can I do to fix that? I’m going to go in and fix it. Yep. I’m going to erase that, and I’m going to fix it so that’s no longer a problem. I’m going to remove that part of me.”
I invite you to meet it in a different way this time. Instead of creating a war on yourself, I invite you to meet those flags, those frustrations, those fears, like you would an old friend. So, when you feel that pain come up, that frustration, that fear, that something you’re wanting to run from, I’d like you to interact with it like you once knew it well and spent time with it. Granted, it might not have been an old friend that you were super fond of and you wanted to hang out with, but an old friend, nonetheless. We don’t have to be like, “Yay, there it is, fear; and, this is fabulous.” But I want you… I’m going to use fear as an example. When you feel that fear get triggered, I’d like you to be objective about that fear, to allow yourself, instead of going, “I don’t want to feel this. I need to not feel this. Oh, I’m going to go do this thing, eat this food, drink this drink, so I don’t feel this as intensely.” That’s the resistance flaring. When we’re mindful, we’re objective; and, we say, “Oh, wow, okay. I’m feeling really frustrated, and I’m wanting to go and have this drink. Interesting. I’m wanting to go and eat this. Interesting. My mind thinks that I really want this glass of wine. My mind thinks that I really want to eat this entire chocolate cake. My mind thinks that going shopping right now would be fabulous.” So, you look at it, you’re mindful of it, and you’re objective. And, then I want you to sit down next to that fear, like an old friend, and instead of trying to push it away, instead of trying to change it and fix it, I want you to just sit down next to it and listen to it. Something beautiful happens when we interact with our emotions as if it was an old friend, when we don’t meet it with resistance and pushing, when we just are able to see it for what it is. And, that might not be pretty. It might not be something that fills you with joy. But, it is part of who you are, and all of those emotions are equally valid. And, they’re there to keep you safe. So, when you learn to listen to them, you are going to understand what they have to say much sooner, because here’s what happens to emotions when you don’t listen to them and you try to shove them down. They get louder. Oh, they get louder.
Have you ever tried to not express or feel angry? How’d that go? Did that go well? Or, did that end up blowing up in some way? So, for me, I used to have panic attacks. And, if any of you have ever had panic attacks, it feels like you’re going crazy. And, it’s terrifying. So, in that fear, I had to learn how to listen to my fear. Otherwise, it just got worse. So, taking that space to be able to listen to my fear changed the way my fear interacted with me. And, I no longer, then, got into the position where my fear would erupt into a panic attack and just dominate. But, for a while, I tried to fix my fear. Yeah, that didn’t go so well. I tried to control it. I tried to rule it. I tried to not feel it. But, when I decided to sit down next to my fear, I learned that my fear was just a little girl version of me who had been pulling on my arm for decades saying, “Hey, I’m really scared. I need you to pay attention to me. I’m really scared. I need you to pay attention to me.” And, I tried to ignore that, because it was overwhelming me, and I didn’t want to feel that emotion to that extent. So, I thought, “Well, we’ll just ignore that. Go about my day. Do my thing.” But, in any other situation, none of us would ignore a small child who came to us, pulled on our arm, and said, “I’m scared. I need help. Please, see me.”
So, when I was able to listen to that fear and sit down next to it, it began to unfold in such beautiful ways, and I never thought fear could teach me the lessons that it did about how to listen, how to be patient, how to be compassionate, even when I felt I was overwhelmed. And, then I was able to share that with more people. I was able to be more patient and loving to others, less judgmental, more understanding of the scope of their life and how it was impacting, and why they might be more reactive, why they might be not a fun person to be around, because they were in pain, because they were scared of parts of them. Or, they were scared of the physical pain that was going on. Because, when we’re looking at fear, and we try to suppress it, it turns into anger, because anger is just fear projected outwards. So, by learning to listen is how you make that resistance, that fear, that emotion, whatever it is, and turn it into a superpower. Because, when we can listen and be objective, we are less reactive. When we’re less reactive in the world, we can see things for what they are rather than making assumptions about what we know and what we think we know, that might not be true, that are laden with expectation and previous experiences. But, that does not mean that that is what’s going on right now.
So, I invite you to meet this transition, the resistance, with the curiosity of a little kid, to be able to look at it like, “What the heck is this? I’ve never seen this before like this. What does it look like from this angle? Huh. Okay. What about if I look at it this way?” So, to play with it. The more angles you can look at something through, the more you’re going to understand its dimension and how it interacts, and what might catch on it, and what might roll past it. So, we’re being objective. We’re being mindful. We’re being curious. And, we’re being willing to sit with that emotion that we’re trying to run from, for a bit.
Now, one of the things I thought that was going to happen when I started learning to listen to my fear and the emotions that I was concerned about feeling, I was pretty sure they were going to crush me. I thought, “That’s why I can’t go there.” Right? That was my excuse. “Can’t go there because it’s going to crush me.” But, it actually moved through much more fluidly and effortlessly than I ever could have fathomed that it did. It was more the anticipation and the assumption. One of those other ones that keeps coming up that I thought I understood about it that was not true at all.
And, when we, then, can begin to excavate and look at those different layers of ourselves, we get to understand ourselves at a deeper level. We get to know who we are as individuals. And, when we do that, we give other people the permission to know that that’s a possibility.
Have you ever been in interaction with someone who brought the joy every single time you met them and talked to them, regardless what was going on in their life? They were able to meet it with optimism, and love, and grace. How did you feel when you were interacting with those people? Did you feel excited? Did you feel buoyant? Did you feel able to take on what you needed to in your life? Now, conversely, have you ever interacted with someone who was constantly negative and complained about absolutely everything, and everything was wrong? How did you feel after you stopped interacting with them? Did you feel awesome? Maybe not so much? Maybe a little heavier? Yeah. And, probably not as optimistic about opportunities, and joy, and grace.
So, by learning to listen to who you are, being mindful of it, we change the playing field for ourselves but also every single person we interact with. So, when I started playing with this in my life, I did a little experiment in the grocery store. So, I’d walk by people in the grocery store, and I’d smile at them. First, the smile was like this, and the responses I got were… Then, I smiled like this, and the responses I got were… And, then I smiled like this, and they went… And, they would always break into a smile. I might have had to hold the eye contact with them a little bit longer, but it gave them the ability to have this little light for just this moment, because I remember there was an interaction I had in the grocery store where it was a really rough day, and someone looked at me and smiled from their heart, and it changed it. And, I thought, “Huh? What if I can be the light? What if I could learn to listen to myself and find light within me and nourish that?” And, so, that began my personal mission to help people find their lights, to help people learn how to listen to who they are, so that they can be the change that they want to see in the world every single day.
Some days, you’re going to get up and you’re going to rock it. It’s going to be amazing, and you’re going to have beautiful interactions with a lot of people. Other times, it’s going to take a little bit more effort, but that doesn’t mean that that changes how I choose to meet the world around me, how I choose to meet myself. Even when I was dealing with chronic pain, I made a choice to interact with that in a different way, and that changed the way the pain crushed me. It changed the way the pain limited me, because I changed the way I framed it in my life.
So, when we’re talking about learning to listen, I want to share with you an exercise called “Emotional Intelligence”, because we all need to have this class in school. I think it’s mandatory learning, because we don’t learn how to listen to our emotions, at all. So, this is one of the exercises that I have in my book, “Nourishing Space Within: Essentials of Self-Care”, because learning how to listen to our emotions is an essential self-care item. We have to know ourselves; otherwise, what are we doing? So, with this, there’s three steps.
First, when you’re holding something that you’ve been struggling with, or that’s frustrated you in your mind, I want you to identify how you feel about it. How did this interaction make you feel? So, this might be something as small as somebody cutting you off in traffic, and you had to slam on your brakes and you’re really frustrated and you almost hit them, and this really stressed you out. Or, it could be something much larger. It could be larger histories of abuse, or disorders, or pain. So, pull that up in your head, and think about how does that make you feel. And, observe it, like you are outside of it. And, that can be really difficult, especially for those really strong emotions. But, I want you to take that moment to just say, “This happened, and I felt really (fill in the blank).” So, we’ve been using fear. I’ve been using fear as an example, so “I had this experience, and I felt really scared about it, after it.” So, you’ve got your emotion.
Then, I want you to do a body scan. So starting at the top of your head, gently moving down through your body, just being aware of how you’re feeling, assess if there’s any areas that feel different when you’re thinking about this experience. Does it make you feel tight, headache, pain somewhere, constriction, or maybe an emptiness? Or, maybe it radiates through a part of your body, or maybe it’s specific. So, for some people, when they’ve had an experience where they couldn’t say what they needed to say, and the experience didn’t go how they wanted it to, they might have a tightness in their throat. Or, you might have had an unpleasant exchange, or an abusive relationship, and it might feel like tightness in your gut. It might be somewhere completely different. Where is that?
So, you pull up the emotion, and you identify it. Scan through your body, and you locate it in your body. And the next one, the next one’s a big one. Then you accept it. So, you’re finding an emotion that you don’t want to feel. You’re finding out if it holds itself somewhere in your body. And, then, you accept it. This one threw me for a loop when I first learned it, because I thought, “Accept it? I don’t want to feel it. I’m not pleased with this. This was not okay. This was not, in any way, okay for anyone to ever do this.” But, that’s not what I’m asking you to do. I’m asking you to accept the fact that you feel this way about it. So, you’re accepting the fact that this emotion, and constriction, or pain, exists at this moment in your body. So, that’s shifting the way you’re framing it, so you’re no longer fighting it again. And, when we stop pushing, it stops pushing back.
So, you identify it, you locate it, and you accept it. And, when you accept it, you put your hands over that area and say, “I understand that I’m feeling this pain, this tightness, and this fear, and I accept that it’s here. I accept that I feel it in my body. And, I know that this was here for a reason. It helped keep me safe during that time, but it’s no longer serving me now, and I’m ready to let this emotion go.” And, you might have to repeat that a few times. And, then you repeat with different experiences, or maybe it’s a big one and so you got to go through it again and again and peel off layers. But, what this does is help to give you back energy; because, when we’re holding on to an emotion of a past event, we’re investing our energy, our emotional and physical energy, into holding that. That takes a lot of energy.
Have you ever had some muscle spasm, like your arm was really tight? You worked really hard, or your legs were really tight? Did you feel a lot of energy when you were doing that. when you had that pain, that tightness there? Or, did you feel like this was exhausting to hold it like that? Or, have you ever worn a pair of really uncomfortable shoes? Did it take a lot more energy to go through your day while you were wearing them because you had to have more energy to hold yourself upright? Yeah.
So, when we release that energy that is locked up in those emotions, it’s the same thing. Then, we’ve got more currency, more energy, to shift towards healing, to shift towards listening, to being objective, to being compassionate, and to being able to bring the joy on every level. And, that, my friends, is how you make resistance, and reframe it, into a superpower. Because, when you have that ability, you are no longer run by your emotions. You then get the ability to understand it, and frame it, and direct it in a way that is actually going to be beneficial for you, rather than detrimental.
Learning to deal with our emotions is just one of the many levels of learning to care for ourselves. And, I know that it is not the easiest one, so I applaud you for showing up for this class, and being willing to look at those many levels of resistance and how it can show up.
Any questions about the resistance before we begin to wrap up, about what we’ve talked about today? It’s a big topic. And, if you want to go through this again, you can walk through this again in ““Nourishing Space Within”, and I’ve got meditations throughout here, as well, to help you build that mindfulness. Because, every breath we have is an opportunity to start something new, to reset, to be objective, to be open, to be mindful. Every breath we take is an opportunity to recommit to our priorities, to the things that are important, that we want to make sure we include in our life.
So, I invite you to take that challenge to be mindful of how you’re showing up and who you want to be. Are they congruent, or do they need to become a little bit closer? And, the more congruent they are, the more satisfying quality of life you have. One breath and one step at a time is where we are to build this, and they’re all we have. So, meeting this present moment with joy and grace and resetting whenever we find that we have wandered off, because detours are inevitable. But, the more mindful we can be, we can draw ourselves back to that center. It’s going to be a huge asset for you in every aspect of your life. So, if you want to take this to the next level, there are many options for this. Practice this. Integrate it into your life. Check out my book. It’s going to be another way for you to understand the multiple levels that we need to be aware of for self-care, and I’ve got guided meditations for you, as well. And, I’m offering a 90-day course that takes this deeper, that looks at all the self-care that I talk about in the book and walks you through 90 days of helping to reset and rebalance. That’s going to start in February.
So, if you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, you can be notified of when that begins. And, know that building community with like-minded people, those who show up, is a huge asset to helping us build our health. Talk about this to your friends. Talk about it to your families, those that you love. The more you can bring up this discussion of how we choose to be in the world, the more mindful we can be, and the more we can work together to help change the world back to a loving, nourishing place. And, it all starts within.
So, thank you so much for joining me here today. It was an honor for you guys to come in on this wet, wet night. And, I hope that you have something beneficial to take back to your lives so that you can transform your resistance into a superpower.
Thank you so much.