Anxiety, Motivation & Mindset, Practitioner


April 29, 2020

What if we didn't resist our experience? 

What if we didn't resist our experience? I feel a bit vulnerable posting this. I feel sometimes as a coach supporting others that I need to be more 'sorted', but when I have that sort of thinking I know that i've gone a bit off track. I, like you, get caught up in my own thinking at times. This is the human experience, it's something we all have in common.

Do you sometimes feel the urge to say 'No' to life?

So do you sometimes feel the urge to say 'NO' when you are about to do something new - even if you want to do it? Or, you know you need to plan a session, or finish an article, but you find yourself avoiding it, - finding opportunities to do something else instead? Or you need to have a difficult conversation with someone. A group of facilitators once told me that they sometimes feel like this before a workshop - they catch themselves wishing it was a 'snow day'. [in Britain, a 'snow day' often means that the trains will be down and the odds are we won be able to go to work]. That feeling where know you have to do it, but your insides are squirming a NO! Does that happen to you? 

I want to share with you the topic of resistance. When we have the urge to say 'no', whether it's something new, or boring, or something we weren't expecting, such as lockdown - it's a sign that we are in resistance to our experience. This resistance can manifest in a straight NO, or indirectly - in avoidance. When we are in resistance, what this really means, is that we are in fear. It can feel confusing because often the thing we fear, we are also looking forward to doing. But in that moment, it's a 'no'.

I even found myself coming up with excuses

In the video I describe how I found myself in resistance to an event I was about to attend. On this occasion, a workshop for supervisors. I surprised myself because I had been really looking forward to connecting with other practitioners, therapists and mental health professionals who work with others in the helping professions. I was on my dog walk, nearly home and about to tune into the workshop I became aware of a feeling of resistance. I noticed the uneasiness in my stomach, and the urge to say no. I even found myself coming up with excuses. 

In a previous time, when I got caught up in anxious, resistant thinking, there might have been one of three outcomes. I might have not attended, or I might have gone to the event but the anxiety would have taken a grip and I'd have worked hard to manage my experience. Or, as often might happened I would have realised, as soon as the event started, that all was okay. I would relax into it - relieved.

In each scenario I was generating my own suffering through my thinking about a future event which, due to my thinking, I was experiencing as happening to me NOW. My thinking would be telling me that I was not enough, that I wouldn't be able to think on my feet, that I was an imposter etc. My thinking was telling me that a future event was the cause of my suffering, and that suffering was happening in the moment of NOW because I was thinking it.

Our thinking has potential to create suffering

Now I know that when we are in resistance - in fear - it is our thinking creating suffering inside us. When we suffer in this way, we mistakenly think it is 'something out there' that is the cause. It's an innocent misunderstanding. It certainly seems like outside events or other people are the cause of suffering, but I know now that it's the thinking we are having about it, producing resistance in the moment, that is actually creating the suffering.

Thankfully, on this occasion, I noticed it for what it was. I realise now that when we are actually in the moment of NOW (and not in some future imagined scenario) we have everything we need to handle what comes up. So, on my dog walk instead of getting caught up in a thought storm about the group supervision I decided, instead, to make a little video about it! By the way the supervision event was great. All my imposter thoughts were unfounded and it was wonderful to connect with other practitioners. 

Resistance can be subtle - an urge, a thought, a nudge

Our resistance doesn't necessarily manifest as a big fat 'No' but can take more subtle forms - perhaps through a thought, or an urge to do something else - eat, clean the bathroom - anything that takes you away mentally from the present moment. In another example I see urgent thinking about the day's work whilst on my dog walk in the beautiful Chiltern countryside as a subtle resistance to the moment.

In that moment I am indulging in the thought that I don't have enough time to stop and be peaceful, or the limiting belief that I'm not enough. When I notice this happening, it's a great reminder that the present moment is not harmful - I can calibrate myself back and enjoy being in a present moment of calm. Similarly, if I'm about to start a workshop I might feel a nudge of fear about what might happen next, when i notice this is happening, I know that connecting with those participating is enough to bring me back into the present moment. In the moment I know everything is ok and that I am enough. 

You have everything you need to show up fully to life

So, when you next become aware of an uneasy feeling, perhaps check in with yourself.  Am I in resistance? Just noticing this will support you back into the present moment. And then breathe. And remember you are fully equipped to handle the present moment. You have everything you need so show up fully to life, to NOW even if it feels challenging. 

So, Im wondering what are you in resistance to at the moment? In the era of COVID it would be very natural to feel resistance to what is happening right now. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below

About the author 

Sheila Preston

I am Dr Sheila Preston, a transformative practitioner with over 23 years’ experience in education, community settings. I have trained and supported hundreds of socially engaged artists and practitioners. Now I help brilliantly courageous practitioners who are working with communities who are experiencing difficulties in their lives and/or who work in challenging settings* These practitioners are committed to working in a heart-centred, relational way with vulnerable or hard to reach communities. I help these amazing practitioners get out of survival mode and THRIVE so they can lean into their heart-centred practice, and lead social change without burning out! I am committed to finding affordable solutions for on-going coaching or support for practitioners which is why I developed the Thriving Facilitators Membership. *settings such as, prison and probation, schools and universities, pupil referral, day centres, SEN settings, mental health, health care, social services, neighbourhoods.

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