Resistance

Since I have found myself completely unable to write a blog post for over a month, I have been thinking a lot about resistance and how it shows up in my life.

I seem to have resistance to continuing with things that previously seemed to be a good idea. Strangely, these are often things I enjoy, but the minute I tell myself I SHOULD do them, they become less attractive to me and resistance sets in.

For example:

I SHOULD go for a walk

I SHOULD do some yoga

I SHOLD write a blog post

I SHOULD make a green juice

I SHOULD read the book instead of going on Facebook

I SHOULD do some housework

I SHOULD go for a nap as I am exhausted.

These SHOULDS are so entrenched in my mind that I wonder how it is even possible to get out of bed without them. What does it mean to resist nothing and still live a productive life? Won’t I just sit in the couch, eating chocolate, watching crap daytime TV?

From our earliest childhood, we are raised on a diet of shoulds:

We SHOULD behave

We SHOULD eat our vegetables

We SHOULD go to school and try hard when we get there

We SHOULD respect our elders

We SHOULD play nicely and share our toys.

I have no idea where I am going with this, but as someone who has lived her life trying to do her best, trying to do everything she thought was expected of her and experiencing complete burnout, my sense is there must be a better way!

Our society has placed a whole new level of SHOULDS on women.

We SHOULD have a fulfilling career

We SHOULD have well-behaved, adorable children

We SHOULD have a handsome husband that treats us like queens

We SHOULD have a spotless well-run house that could grace the pages of Homes and Gardens.

We SHOULD rustle up gourmet meals a la Nigella

We SHOULD have a group of close girlfriends, with whom we can bear our souls and go to book group, yoga and wine bars.

We SHOULD be slim and gorgeous, well-groomed at all times, unflappable, smiling superwomen.

Am I alone in thinking that this image of the modern woman is so seductive but completely unattainable?

How many of us have tried? How many of us have failed? I remember in my late teens devouring Helen Gurley Brown’s book “Having it all” and believing that it was possible.

How many women are there, like me, who have dragged themselves through their days, completely exhausted, but trying so damn hard to hold it all together and get things done, because the things that had to be done seemed so important?

How much division has there been among women who watch each other and wrongly assume “she has it all together”?

Who is telling the truth about how they really feel?

I will go first: I feel real grief for that woman who tried so hard, who put in 100% effort and forgot about her own needs in the process. I feel lonely, out of the workforce. I feel forgotten and misunderstood. I feel as though I have so much to offer inside, but lack the physical energy to do it. I miss my job; I miss my colleagues and most of all I miss the kids at school. I miss having a purpose. I feel as though as I am just on the edge of depression. I feel sad that for every lovely experience that I push myself to enjoy, recently a holiday and a wedding, there are weeks of payback as my energy level crashes.

And so, just for today, I will resist nothing. I will allow myself to feel what I feel without a plan to fix it. Hell, I can’t fix it, I have tried so hard to do that too.

The quote above says that resisting nothing is the real secret to finding inner peace.

I will let you know if it is true.

 

7 thoughts on “Resistance”

  1. Love your honesty! Found myself nodding as so many of your observances describe me to a “T”. You are not alone in how you’re feeling. We were supposed to look forward to retirement, having more time to do what we want to do and, instead, we feel strangely empty and unfulfilled. I choose to look at this new stage of my life as a new, exciting journey to the ME I’m supposed to be. Will I get there? I don’t know. But I’m going to try and enjoy the process. Thank you for this!

    1. I expected retirement to be 13 years in the future. Maybe some of my resistance is around acceptance of my new status. I am trying to reframe this and begin to enjoy the little things I CAN do. Despite my current circumstances I still have so much for which to be grateful. I like your resolve to see this as a “new, exciting journey”!

    2. A counsellor once told me not to ‘should’ on myself. Louise Hay says change it a bit–When you hear the voice say you ‘should’ do something, ask it why and wait for an answer. Then, turn it around: Say, If I wanted to, I could____. Why haven’t I? The truth is we didn’t actually know that ‘should’ to be the right thing for us. Lovely thoughts; keep them coming!

      1. Hi Joanna

        I like this reframing of “I should” to “I want to”. I used it this morning with my yoga practice. The usual “I should get up and do some yoga” was buzzing around my brain, so I just let it be for a while (resist nothing) and told myself I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. Then I asked myself “what DO you want to do” and strangely the answer was yoga! Then I pondered why I wanted to do yoga and the answer was “to feel good, to take care of myself”. It was then easy to roll out the mat and I felt proud of myself for having done it. The secret was, I think, in giving myself a choice. I could equally have decided I wanted to go back to sleep and I would have honoured that choice too. 😄

  2. Susan, Thank you for sharing this. Yes, the pressure to be and do everything is TOO much and leaves us all hiding! Faking it. Overwhelmed.
    I don’t buy that resisting nothing will lead to peace. As a mom, if I resist nothing, if I don’t choose what is important in my day, I just react to everyone else’s demands all day long.
    And that does not look like inner peace. Not even close.
    Grace releases us from the SHOULDS and frees us to do the things that are ours to do.
    Not compare and not try to do everything.

    1. Hi Coleen

      Thanks for your comment. I am also not convinced that resist nothing leads to inner peace but I am prepared to test drive it for a while in case I am wrong. 😄
      One thing I notice I resist often is my own feelings. I tell myself I shouldn’t feel what I feel and try to suppress what is arising. While some may find this a helpful strategy, in terms of just getting on with things, for me, recovering from burnout, it feels crucial to slow down and allow myself to feel what I feel, without making myself wrong for feeling it!

  3. Love the honesty in this. We put so much pressure on ourselves through shoulds and shouldn’t. it is so important to be aware of how we talk to ourselves. Thank you for writing this!

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