What You Resist Persists: The Tao of Letting Go

Have you ever tried to avoid a puddle, only to step into a larger one hidden just out of sight? Such is the nature of life when we resist what lies before us. Welcome to an exploration of a simple yet profound truth: “What You Resist, Persists.”

Imagine you’re driving to an important meeting, and you find yourself stuck in traffic. The more you resist the situation, gripping the steering wheel and watching the clock, the more anxious and frustrated you become. Ironically, your resistance doesn’t make the cars move any faster; it only amplifies your own stress and negative self-talk. When you finally arrive, your state of mind has already set the tone for the meeting, and not in a favorable way.

This everyday scenario serves as a microcosm of a larger principle that governs not just traffic jams but our lives as a whole. The more we try to avoid a problem, the bigger it seems to get. It’s as if by resisting it, we’re actually giving it more power.

In this article, we’ll look at why this happens. We’ll explore how resistance affects us psychologically, how it plays out in society, and even how it aligns with spiritual principles. Our goal is to understand this relationship between resistance and persistence better, so we can live more harmoniously.

So, let’s start this journey. We’re not here to fight against the current but to understand its flow, and perhaps learn how to swim with it rather than against it.

Ah, may this story serve as a lantern at the entrance of our exploration, casting its light on the path that lies ahead. For stories are the keys that unlock the doors of understanding, inviting us to step through and discover what lies beyond.

“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists”. — Eckhart Tolle

The Nature of Resistance

Defining Resistance

Resistance is not merely saying “no” to something; it’s a barrier we erect, consciously or unconsciously. It’s like putting up a wall between ourselves and a situation, person, or even an emotion we’d rather not face. But what happens when we build this wall? Do we keep out what we fear, or do we trap ourselves in with it?

The Energy of Resistance

It’s easy to think of resistance as a passive act, but it’s quite the opposite. Resistance is an active force. When we resist, we invest emotional and mental energy into something we don’t want. Ironically, this energy often serves as fuel for the very thing we’re trying to avoid. It’s as if we’re feeding it, making it stronger and more persistent.

So, here we stand at the edge of understanding, peering into the paradox that what we resist not only remains but often grows stronger. It’s a dance, you see, where the steps you take to move away actually bring you closer to your partner—whether that partner is a problem, a fear, or an unwanted situation.

In the next sections, we’ll delve deeper into the psychological aspects of this dance, explore its social and cultural dimensions, and even touch upon its spiritual implications.

As we continue, may we become like water—adaptable, flowing, and capable of finding our way around any obstacle. For in understanding the nature of resistance, we take the first step toward a life of greater ease and harmony.

The Psychological Aspects

The Shadow Self

Carl Jung spoke of the “shadow self”—those parts of us that we’d rather not acknowledge, yet are integral to our being. When we resist certain traits or emotions within ourselves, they don’t disappear; instead, they move into the shadows, growing in strength until they find a way to manifest. Resistance, then, becomes a spotlight that makes the shadow more visible, not less. It often begins with seeing what is more clearly, which then enables us to better view different paths—that’s why the power of visualization can be tremendously helpful when dealing with resistance.

Cognitive Dissonance

Any form of resistance often arises when we encounter something that challenges our beliefs or values. This creates a mental tension known as cognitive dissonance. We resist because facing the challenge head-on would mean re-evaluating our deeply held views.

Yet, the more we resist, the more the tension grows, often leading us to extreme lengths to justify our original beliefs, even when evidence suggests we should reconsider, whether it be through simple procrastination, or overcomplicating issues, holding on to absurd beliefs, or other mental contortions.

In this section, we’ve glimpsed how our minds are like gardens. Resistance is the hoe that digs up the soil but leaves the roots untouched. The weeds we try to remove only grow back stronger unless we understand the soil in which they thrive.

As we move forward, we’ll look at how this dance of resistance and persistence extends beyond the individual, shaping societies and cultures. And eventually, we’ll explore how it aligns with the greater flow of the universe.

The Social and Cultural Dimensions

Collective Resistance

Just as individuals have shadows, so do societies and cultures. Collective resistance manifests when a community, consciously or unconsciously, resists change, innovation, or the inclusion of diverse perspectives.

This resistance is often codified in laws, traditions, and social norms, creating a loop that reinforces itself. The bureacrats of the European Union are actually a great example of a “resistance force” these days: trying to maintain the status quo through excessive regulation and avoidant behavior.

It’s as if the collective shadow becomes a wall that not only keeps others out but also traps the community within its own limitations.

The Ripple Effect

The act of resistance by individuals can create ripples that affect the larger community. For instance, if a significant number of people resist acknowledging climate change, this collective resistance can hinder societal progress in environmental conservation.

The ripple effect shows that our individual choices are not isolated droplets but part of a greater wave that can either nourish or erode the landscape of our shared existence.

Social Media and Amplification

In the age of digital connection, resistance finds a new stage. Social media platforms, viral YouTube clips and podcasts can amplify collective resistance, making it more visible but also more polarized.

The echo chambers we find ourselves in reinforce our existing beliefs and resistance to alternative viewpoints, creating a cycle of negative thoughts that is hard to break, and can affect the mental health of entire populations. Our life experience nowadays is less direct, and more second hand: we don’t have that many experiences any more, we consume a lot of experiences, and create our own narratives based on those stories we’ve consumed.

Cultural Narratives

Every culture has its stories, myths, and narratives that shape its worldview. These narratives can either encourage a culture of openness and acceptance or foster resistance against anything that challenges the status quo. The stories we tell ourselves as a society can either be bridges to new possibilities or barriers that keep us stuck in old patterns.

As we explore these social and cultural dimensions, we see that the dance of resistance and persistence is not a solo performance but a collective choreography. The silver lining is that the steps we take as individuals influence the rhythm and flow of the entire dance floor.

Ah, as we ascend from the realm of the tangible to the ethereal, let us explore how the dance of resistance and persistence resonates with the spiritual chords of the universe.

The Spiritual Perspective

The Universe as a Mirror

In the grand tapestry of existence, the universe serves as a mirror, reflecting back the energy we emit. That’s the principle underlying the law of attraction. When we resist, that resistance is not confined to our individual lives; it ripples through the cosmic fabric.

It’s as if the universe responds to our resistance by presenting us with more of what we resist, urging us to look deeper, to understand, and to grow.

Practical Exercise: Spend a few moments each day in quiet reflection, asking yourself, “What am I resisting today?” and “What is it teaching me?” and “What am I not letting go?” Jot down your insights in a journal.

The Wisdom of Non-Resistance

Ancient philosophies and spiritual teachings often speak of the art of non-resistance. In Taoism, for example, the concept of “Wu Wei” advocates for action through inaction, a form of effortless flow with the currents of life.

By not resisting, we align ourselves with the natural order of things, and in doing so, we find that what we once resisted may transform or even dissipate.

Practical Exercise: Try a “Do Nothing” meditation. Sit quietly and allow thoughts and sensations to come and go without engaging with them. Experience the freedom of non-resistance.

Synchronicity and Flow

When we cease to resist and start to flow, we may experience synchronicities—meaningful coincidences that feel like the universe is guiding us. These are not random events but signs that we are in harmony with the greater flow, that we are dancing to the same rhythm as the universe. You can amplify this by “tuning” your mind into the greater frequency through creative affirmations.

Practical Exercise: Keep a “Synchronicity Journal.” Whenever you notice a meaningful coincidence, write it down. Over time, you may begin to see patterns that offer guidance.

The Soul’s Journey

From a spiritual perspective, resistance is not a hindrance but a teacher. It signals areas in our lives that require attention, growth, or transformation, an opportunity to unfold our full potential.

The soul’s journey is not a straight path but a spiral, and what we resist often comes back to us in the form of adversities or negative experiences until we’ve learned the lesson it carries.

Practical Exercise: Create a “Soul Map,” listing areas in your life where you feel resistance. Next to each, write down one small action you can take to address it.

As we delve into the spiritual perspective, we find that resistance and persistence are not mere earthly phenomena but cosmic principles. They are part of the universe’s language, teaching us, guiding us, and sometimes challenging us to evolve.

The Dance of Resistance and Persistence

In this journey, we’ve traversed the landscapes of psychology, society, and spirituality, each offering its own insights into the paradoxical relationship between resistance and persistence. We’ve seen how resistance is not merely an obstacle but a teacher, a mirror reflecting aspects of ourselves and the world that invite deeper understanding, and a catalyst that brings forth positive changes.

We’ve also discovered that resistance is not a solo act but a collective dance, influencing and influenced by the society we’re part of. It’s a dance that extends beyond the earthly realm, resonating with the cosmic rhythms of the universe.

But most importantly, we’ve learned that this dance is not set in stone; it’s a choreography in progress. Through awareness, acceptance, and aligned action, we can transform our relationship with resistance, turning it from a foe into an ally, from a stumbling block into a stepping stone, both in our own life, the life of loved ones, and society.

As you move forward, may you carry these insights like a lantern, illuminating not only your path but also the paths of those you encounter. For in sharing the light, we dispel not just our own shadows but also the darkness of negative emotions that clouds the collective soul.

As you step back into the flow of your life, may you find that the music of the universe is not a cacophony but a symphony, inviting you to add your own unique melody.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. May it be but one of many steps toward a life of greater harmony, a life that dances not against but with the rhythms of the universe.

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