Face your Suffering on your way towards Freedom and Balance | The Effects of Resistance


Often therapy is a place for people to face their unresolved issues so that they can move forward in their lives with feelings of inner and outer harmony.

Utilizing energy to “just get over it” suggests that there is something… a feeling… a string of thoughts … a felt sensation that is being denied resolution.

From our cultures we often learn that resistance is the ‘right’, ‘stong’, ‘mature’, ‘masculine’ and ‘rational’ thing to do when faced with difficult emotions (or differing opinion, beliefs, perceptions, customs etc.).

Resistance pushes us to view right and wrong dichotomously, it uses our strength for the process of denial, it inhibits our ability to mature towards acceptance, it manipulates our masculine energy to be rigid and less compassionate, and it inhibits our self-control and ability to choose to act in ways we label as rational.

Resistance restrains our freedom as we find ourselves being unconsciously controlled by that which we resist.

Projection – one of the major ways in which resistance affects our actions is projection. When you deny your suffering you are likely to project that suffering onto other people… you are likely to see your unresolved emotions in the faces of those around you. Example: If a person is repressing feeling foolish for trusting an unfaithful partner they might be highly critical of others who have spouses whom they perceive to be ‘flirty’.

Uncontrollable Anger – frightening outbursts of anger that in no way fit the disappointments of the environment are very often the result of unresolved emotions. Difficult experiences can leave us feeling sad, alone, confused, and lost in a meaningless chaos; when these feelings are left unattended to a person may go through their day in a haze of confused loneliness… when a difficulty arises, they react not only to the specific situation, but also to the pain that they carry for denying the emotions that weigh down their shoulders. We all have a threshold of difficult emotions that we can carry… when we are given another emotion when we are already full, we lose control. Energy is used to deny and repress… when we run out of energy some people will fall into a state of mammalian rage, attacking their environment in a misguided attempt to protect themselves from the emotions they no longer hold the strength to deny. Example: a person feels inadequate for being cut from a sports team… they go home and their partner asks if the remembered to stop and get the milk (he did not remember)… the man goes into a frightening tirade about how the wife “makes him feel.”

Disassociation – People will ‘check out’ and there will be an inconsistency in the way that they are reacting to their environment. In a severe state of disassociation a person will not appear to even be awake… they will be lost in their internally created world (somewhat like a lucid dream) so as to avoid the way that the outer world makes them feel. In a moment of severe trauma, disassociation is possibly a useful adaptation… the person unconsciously knows that the experience is too overwhelming to integrate, so they leave their body. When we continue to deny the emotions that we hold, those emotions can persuade us into a disassociated state though there is not anything too severe in the present environment. Overcoming a trauma will help a person to act congruently with their environment. Ex. A disassociated person might be smiling while they are talking about attending their parent’s funeral… they are quite literally emotionally detached from the present moment.

Addiction – The process of resistance takes an immense amount of energy… it is extremely hard work to deny difficult emotions (ironically way more difficult than facing them). People often seek the assistance of an addiction to aid them in their process of denial. Addictions can numb and distract a person from their emotions… this feels especially good as it reduces the amount of energy a person must allocate to the resistance process. Examples: a person will seek out the comforting and nurturing feelings that accompany the consumption of high calorie foods when they are unable to access those feelings from people in the environment. A person will smoke pot to reduce the ruminating thoughts that surface as a result of unattended stress. A person will drink alcohol to forget about feeling hopeless about employment prospects.

Facing your emotions can look different for different people depending on the situation.

At times the held emotions are too confusing or unorganized and a person needs assistance in finding meaning.

Sometimes an emotion simply requires honest expression from the body… at times a person simply needs to cry to no longer be inhibited by a repressed emotion.

As social animals it is very important for us to feel understood and empathized for by another individual… being empathized for takes away feeling lonely, and can dramatically increase felt security.

Acceptance of an emotion emancipates a person.

A person is free to use their energy in the moment as opposed to using energy to repress their past.

A person is free to engage with their environment as it is in the moment as opposed to having the present moment unconsciously colored by unresolved emotions from the past.

To live in the present moment does not mean that you deny your past or offer inauthentic positivity to what you have experienced… to live in the present moment you must courageously accept your past… to look upon it with openness.

To find balance we must offer observance of all that is on the scale.

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.
William Hambleton Bishop
William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

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