Sunday, October 4, 2015

Whatever You Resist Persists

My client Jack used to have such acute panic attacks while planning for public speeches he'd go to the emergency clinic, convinced he was dying. He learned to stay with his feelings of panic instead of running from them

Even though the idea seemed a little crazy to him, every time he started to feel anxious he'd focus on the specific physical sensations and exaggerate them. To Jack's surprise the symptoms quickly diminished and he stopped having full-blown panic attacks. 

You may have heard the expression, whatever you resist persists. In contrast, every source of resistance responds positively when you welcome it without judgment. Think utilization. You can use whatever happensblocks, tasks not done, so-called relapsesto see how your patterns play out and to reframe your thinking in ways that invite change.  

Gail, for example, wanted to lose ten pounds. She said she'd gained weight because she ate fast, often while standing up. She'd been trying to get herself to eat less by pushing to overcome her eating patterns, telling herself to SLOOOW down! That hadn't worked and she was disappointed in herself. 

Looking for a way to go with her stated problem of eating fast, Gail decided to clock her mileage, imagining a gauge where 20 mph is a healthy rate of eating speed, and to do so as a neutral observer, to get to know her eating pattern without self-criticism. After clocking her typical eating rate at 55 mph she agreed to following week to consciously eat at 60 mph, then decrease it by 7 mph, then increase by 3 mph, continuing to experiment with her eating gauge. 

Gail had fun reframing her old pattern of focusing on her failures. To her surprise and great delight, she lost three pounds in two weeks without any conscious effort to diet.

Practice  
  1. Think of a change you've wanted but haven't accomplished. 
  2. If you've tried to stifle or ignore your resistance, find a way to welcome it.
  3. Reframe any self-criticism as an opportunity to learn something about yourself.

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