Emotional Resistance: The Paradox That Keeps You Wanting

“What you resist, persists.”
 ― Carl Jung

Do you often feel like your emotions are all over the place? Or does it seem like your emotions control you, rather than the other way around?
One of the foundational principles I have taught over the past 17 years is the subject of emotional resistance. What I’ve found is that for many, it is a challenging concept to grasp and even more challenging to apply. Why? Because it is a concept that comes in the form of a paradox: Let go of pushing to get what you want, and you’ll get it. 

Emotional resistance is a common phenomenon where you may consciously or unconsciously avoid or resist facing your emotions. It can manifest as denial, projection, avoidance, or suppression of feelings, and can prevent you from fully processing and resolving emotional experiences.

This paradoxical knowledge has been taught for thousands of years and today in 2023 emotional resistance is more prevalent than ever. There is more dissatisfaction, division, fear, and anger, than many people have seen in their lifetimes. We have become a society of force instead of flow, pushing instead of allowing, and demanding instead of earning.

The end result is you don’t get what you want, you actually push it away. You become a repellent to the very things you desperately seek. We all have authentic needs to be met in order to live a healthy life; needs like love, belonging, and acceptance. And for those whose needs are met, they aren’t trying and pushing to get those things. They aren’t as attached to other people’s show of love, being included, or how much or little someone accepts them.

However, for those who don’t have those needs met, they’re coming from a place of lack, which can be a painful and sometimes devastating experience. They’re trying so hard to get those needs met through others because they simply are trying to end the pain. You are hard-wired to seek out pleasure in order to avoid pain. Yet, the more you try to avoid pain, the greater the pain becomes.

As Buddha taught, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” He also taught, “Resistance to what is, creates our suffering.” So if pain is inevitable, and that is “what is”, and you are resisting your pain, you move into suffering. In essence, you are doubling up on your pain, and adding more and more the longer you stay in a state of resistance to it. When coming from a place of lack, the more you have a need for love the more you push it away. The more you have a need for belonging, the more you feel left out. The more you have a need for acceptance, the more you feel rejected. And the list goes on and on.

The way out is through, the only way to overcome any obstacle is to face it head-on, rather than trying to go around or avoid it. That includes your emotional pain, your challenges in life, and that which lives within you that you have denied or been too afraid to face. Yet when you learn and apply the process of letting go of resistance, you experience more freedom, more ease, more joy, more love, and all those things you’ve been trying so hard to have in your life.

Here are some strategies that can help:

  1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness involves bringing non-judgmental awareness to your emotions as they arise, without trying to push them away or hold on to them. By simply acknowledging and accepting your emotions as they are, you can reduce resistance and allow yourself to fully experience and process them.

  2. Validate your emotions: It’s important to recognize that all emotions, even the uncomfortable ones, are valid and natural human experiences. Avoid judging or criticizing yourself for feeling a certain way. Instead, practice self-compassion and validate your emotions without trying to change or suppress them.

  3. Identify underlying beliefs or fears: Explore any underlying beliefs or fears that may be contributing to emotional resistance. Sometimes, you may resist emotions because you fear they will overwhelm you or because you hold certain beliefs about them being unacceptable or unworthy of attention. Identifying and challenging these beliefs can help reduce resistance.

  4. Create a safe space: Create a safe and supportive environment for yourself where you feel comfortable expressing and processing your emotions. This could be with a trusted friend, family member, or life coach. Having a safe space to share and process emotions can help reduce resistance and facilitate healing.

  5. Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally can help reduce emotional resistance. Engage in regular self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, healthy eating, and getting enough rest. When you take care of yourself, you are better equipped to face and process emotions.

  6. Use healthy coping strategies: Instead of avoiding or suppressing emotions, develop healthy coping strategies to process them. This can include journaling, talking to a trusted person, engaging in creative outlets, or practicing relaxation techniques. Find healthy ways to express and process your emotions that work best for you.

  7. Seek life coaching: If you find that emotional resistance is persistent and impacting your daily life, consider seeking life coaching. Coaching provides the guidance, tools, and techniques to help you overcome emotional resistance and navigate challenging emotions in a healthy and effective way. It can be challenging to even see your resistance because it has become so automated in your daily life. But when you have someone who can help you to see what you cannot see with objectivity, compassion, and understanding, the path becomes more clear and you can then make your way to the other side.

Overcoming emotional resistance takes time and effort, but it is an important step towards emotional well-being and growth. By implementing these strategies, you can overcome emotional resistance and develop a healthier relationship with your emotions. Remember that it’s okay to feel and process emotions, and taking steps towards addressing emotional resistance can lead to greater emotional resilience and well-being.