Resiliency 4 Today: Resistance is Futile

Since 1995 over 300,000 men around the world have graduated from the Korean based “Father School.” They attended in order to learn how to hug their children, send loving messages to their wives, and generally become more loving and expressive humans. The school originated in a culture that values stoic men that work 16-18 hour days. The graduates are men who have made a choice to challenge their hardwiring, their cultural heritage, and their family imprinting. To me, these men are heroes. They have faced the demons of vulnerability and discovered its power to heal. I suspect that decades from now the statistics will show that these particular men, and ultimately their wives, children, and grandchildren will have extended their lifespan. The fact that they have been willing to face their own limitations and stretch them, like a yoga asana of the spirit, underscores for me the research that resiliency isn’t an inherited trait, but rather behavior choices that we have a measure of control to expand. So the question I pose today is this: what programming are you brave enough to challenge?

Perhaps, like them and like me, you are constantly faced by your own resistance. Maybe you resist stuff that’s good for you, or that’s hard, or that your ego says won’t let your ego rule the day. Resistance! It can be the bane of resiliency. It can also help you survive! yaaaa, another paradox!!!! Resisting death, a force of entropy that is as inevitable as gravity, is a key to resiliency. Resisting depression and despair is part of resiliency practice. But resisting the good stuff isn’t part of resiliency. Resistance in it’s own state is simply neutral. It just is. Resistance isn’t bad or good. It just is. But like anything, too much or too little of it can be a problem. Too much resistance makes us brittle and too little makes us soggy. Swimmers resist the water with their buoyancy, strokes, and kicks. Peacemakers resist the force of war through negotiation. Resistance of the pen against the paper allows the ink to flow. Aerodynamics is the science of how objects meet the resistance of air. Chemotherapy is resistance to cancer. Yoga, martial arts, sports, prayer, meditation, resiliency…all resistance behaviors.

Me? Right now, today, this 5 minutes, I’m resisting my diet in the presence of the powerful force of some nifty new cinnamon crackers I purchased yesterday. Hmmm. I’m resisting deleting this blog post because my inner critic is screaming at me. And in fact, resisting quitting all my work because I watched The Voice last night and saw 15 year olds with talent so beyond anything I could ever muster that I wanted to just call in the wagon to roll me to the old-lady’s-home and give me a juice box and a Reader’s Digest. What else, oh ya…Earlier I resisted having a big bitch fight on Facebook when I read something so incorrect that I went a bit cray-cray. Made a joke but there was an individual who wanted to fight. Ok. But once again, barely in the nick of time, I remembered you can’t bring sanity to a knife fight. I didn’t even know the individual who took me on and twisted my words, some “friend of a friend.” I needed to quickly excuse myself while they were ramping up all their assumptions and creating an opening for a street fight. Because sanity management is part of my resiliency practice I let the Wookiee win. Sometimes the battle is not the War. After all it was Star WARS, not Star Battle. Right? Ok, I digress.

The trick is to learn when and when not to resist as a significant part of resiliency.Resistance can be physical, emotional, spiritual, cognitive or symbolic. What I have observed though is when our egos are involved we resist for basically 2 reasons: ignorance or control (fear). Both can be remediated by resistance: resist ignorance by learning and resist fear via trust and faith.

Try this experiment: Right this minute stand up where you are and take a big deep relaxing breath and stretch your arms over you head and smile.

Did you do it? Or did you resist? No judgment implied but this is a safe way to notice your own resistance.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Did you do the exercise without question? (If you did, you may have too little resistance. You should have evaluated your setting to determine safety, appropriateness, its inherit value, etc.)
  1. Did you read the exercise and just ignore it? (If you did, you may have too much resistance because the exercise was in essence completely non-threatening and would have felt good for a moment and risked little in most cases.)
  1. Did you read the exercise and decide it would be a good idea that you’d try later when you had time or when your office mate was out of the room? (If your office mate is a crazy person or you are on a critical deadline that makes sense, but if you used your wacky cubicle mate as the excuse and don’t follow through with self-care when they go to lunch, it might just be resistance. And if your deadline is so critical why are you wasting time on my lame blog?)

Resistance is energy management. Resistance in itself is neutral and simply an application of energy in the presence of other energy. Where are you putting yours?

Finding a balance between appropriate self-care resistance and mis-spent resistance is part of resiliency practice that can determine the length of your recovery time from a stressful incident or from being a hostage of cray-cray thinking, your own or someone else’s.

Obviously I could go on and on and on and on and on and on about this topic… but I’m going to resist.

Aloha for now

Dr. Vali

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