February 20, 2015
Part 1 presented the idea of developing a new relationship with resistance. Let’s look at the actual how of that.
Resistance is about refusing to accept something that is physically, mentally or emotionally painful or uncomfortable.
Logically the simple alternative is to accept whatever shows up, whether it feels uncomfortable or not.
If only this stuff was logical! But here’s the good news. It may not be logical, but thankfully, it is kind of simple. Resistance = closed mind. Acceptance = open mind.
So the shift from resistance to acceptance is about ‘changing your mind’.
When my mind is open and my attention is on learning something, it’s magically easy to accept the present moment, exactly as it is, with openness, willingness and curiosity (which is, incidentally, my favorite description of a mindfulness practice).
Resistance is one mindset; acceptance is another. 99.9% percent of the time your automatic response to something uncomfortable will be resistance. Because you’re human and pretty much hard-wired to avoid discomfort. That resistance will tend to result in extreme reactions like caving to something you don’t want, or feeling immobilized, or aggressing against whatever is causing the discomfort.
Your personal power—your ability to manage yourself effectively—returns when you recognize that you have the opportunity, at any moment in time, to open your mind to the myriad options that didn’t occur to you when you were in resistance.
I remember a particular moment many years ago when that idea, the idea of the power behind knowing I could change my mind, became real to me. I said yes to something my adolescent son wanted to do, and then worried all night long about that decision. The next day I went back to him and said: “You know what honey? When I said yes yesterday I felt pressured. After I thought about it, I’m really sorry, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Obviously he wasn’t a happy camper—but here’s the important part—I was!
Changing your mind can play a powerful role in the degree of discomfort you experience. I didn’t sleep like a baby that night because my son was still upset with me; but I slept way better than the night before.
So in essence the shift from resistance to acceptance is about CHOICE. I choose to adopt an open, growth-oriented mindset not because it’s trendy or right or enlightened or easy. I choose it because the alternative—a closed and psychologically inflexible mindset—takes me down the proverbial rabbit hole of ‘aint it awful, life sucks, and then you die’. I’ve been there many times. I still go there. Today when it happens I CHOOSE not to stay.
That choice begins the practice. The moment I choose to bring an open mind to a situation I’m able to utilize the mindfulness skills that I’ve been practicing for years.
Step One: make a conscious choice to adopt a mindset of openness, willingness and curiosity.
Step Two: pull out your green card: pause/breathe/notice your story/soften your body. (Here’s the link explaining what the green card is about.)
Step Three: practice. Bring that open mind to literally every uncomfortable situation that presents itself. Over and over and over until it becomes like breathing.
Your body tightens or gets heavy or feels like it will shatter into a million pieces: open mindset/green card. Your mind is telling you that you’ll never be ok again: open mindset/green card. Your emotions are out of control and running the show or completely deadened: open mindset/green card.
We each have a finite amount of time to experience what life has to offer. Few would argue that there’s no escaping the reality that life will hand us things we would prefer not to have. Yet strangely, most of us live like that isn’t true! We’re shocked when life hands us something we don’t want.
My hope is that we’ll all get better and better at changing our minds. About anything and everything that’s keeping us small or stuck.