We’re living through a rare time of global upheaval.
While we can – and should – find moments of joy and gratitude, we must also acknowledge the existence of fear and uncertainty. Many of us have never encountered collective trauma of this magnitude. Many are experiencing overwhelming feelings of heartbreak, fear, depression, anxiety, and despair. And we’re scrambling to cope.
When circumstances like these crash over us, it’s natural to want to resist, to fight, to show strength.
But resistance isn’t effective. And you don’t have to fight to show strength. There’s a better way.
The first step to letting go of resistance is learning how to recognize our responses as resistance when it occurs.
What do we mean when we talk about resisting fear or anxiety?
Resistance can be considered any response outside of acceptance. Resistance may come in the form of denial or of “fight or flight responses”, or any number of coping mechanisms.
Be on the lookout for forceful responses—forcing yourself to feel a certain way or forcing the feelings down. This may be a useful tell-tale sign of resistance.
Resistance often feels like you are in a direct confrontation with yourself. You may find that these strong emotions come up again and again. And when they do, you might find yourself fighting to push them out of your mind. But it never seems to work. You may spend time trying to convince yourself that you’re okay when you’re not. You probably feel out of control and find yourself hastily reacting out of hurt or anger. You may berate yourself if you catch yourself feeling the feelings you promised yourself you wouldn’t.
Waging this constant battle with yourself is exhausting and dispiriting. A simple shift in how you relate to your emotions can help foster a healthier relationship with your whole self.
Instead of fighting our fear, let’s walk with it.
So, what does it look like to not fight your emotions?
When you practice acceptance, you first practice recognizing what you’re feeling. Name it. Acknowledge that it is there without attempts to stifle the feeling or to transform it. Practice recognizing how this emotion is expressed in your body—if it is held as a tightness in your chest or is it an uneasiness in the gut? Practice pinpointing when you are making judgments about yourself for having that feeling; when you realize you are, practice coming back to sensations in the body, by focusing on your breath, for example.
Practice this over and over again.
You can recognize you’re on the right track by how you begin to relate to these difficult emotions. The energy will be kinder and less contentious. You’ll find that practicing acceptance will make you calmer when you face any challenges, and will give you more patience. You will likely find that your actions and your headspace aren’t controlled by your emotions as they used to be.
Many people report that this practice gives them a sense of distance from their emotions that allows the time to see, to process, and to respond.
While it may be hard to believe this simple practice could truly have a significant impact, a number of studies show that it can. One study found that mindfulness meditation decreased brain cell volume in the area of the brain that’s responsible for stress, fear, and anxiety. Another study shows that meditation successfully lowered the brain wave frequency, giving participants “more time between thoughts [which provides] more opportunity to skillfully choose which thoughts you invest in and what actions you take.”
A common sticking point as we move closer to acceptance is the old tendencies toward resistance. We must recognize and let go of these scripts, and from there we can sit with what we are afraid of and move past it.
If you’re interested in learning how to recognize and lay down resistances you may have around feelings coming up for you during this challenging time, we invite you to work with this guided meditation.
If you are still having trouble overcoming resistances in the face of strong emotions, be sure to seek wisdom and guidance from your Higher Self.
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If we open our hearts and take the time to listen, extreme circumstances like these give us an opportunity to get a clear picture of our fears, our resistances, a sense of what we are most afraid of.
And when we gently shed resistance and name our fears and not give it energy, we can experience what it is like to move past fear and into bravery.
For more practice harnessing your inner wisdom, you can enroll for free in Higher Self Yoga’s five-part course on recognizing and strengthening your intuition.