When we have decided to make an effort towards self transformation or self improvement, we might encounter various types of subconscious resistances. It is useful to have these in mind, because knowing about them might help us free ourselves from them and proceed more smoothly and effectively.
What are some of those resistances? Refer to fig. 56 RESISTANCE TO DEVELOPMENT.
1. Some of us may be caught up in resistance towards what the others want. We might have developed rebellious or antagonistic relationships with others, and do not want to let them have their way or get what they want. Or we do not want to allow them to think that they might be right about something which they are asking us to do. Thus, even though we want to make a positive change in our lives, we subconsciously refuse to do so, so as not to give this satisfaction to someone who is trying to push us, or change us, or who does not accept us as we are.
In such cases, we often function in self destructive ways. Many adolescents go through this stage, often resorting to narcotics or other self destructive life styles. I have seen some refuse to finish one last course which they need in order to complete their university diploma simply because they do not want to give that satisfaction to those who have suppressed them or rejected them, or to those who they believe are wrong in their values or lifestyle.
Some of us take this rebellious obstacle to self improvement to the grave with us.
2. A second obstacle is the inertia of habit. We get locked into habits which become our familiar reality. We identify with this reality which we create and feel safe in it even though it is painful. For many people familiar pain or suffering are preferable to unfamiliar happiness. Many of us prefer to stay in the narrow confines of the familiar and known, rather than risk the freedom of the unknown. Improvement and change mean going beyond the known.
Also, these habits can engage our energy patterns in ways which control our minds so that they mechanically fulfill themselves without our conscious support. For example, we reach for food, drink or a cigarette, turn on the TV, zap through the channels, pick up the phone and call someone, all mechanically without being conscious of what we are doing, and whether what we are doing is actually beneficial for us and what we really want to do. The mind loses its ability to control these unconscious movements, and then suffers from compulsive acts and thoughts.
Such problems are seldom solved through active listening or analysis alone. They require a strong decision on the part of the individual and a willingness to go through the pain of withdrawal symptoms, by placing himself in a situation in which he simply cannot get to what he mechanically desires. Centers for detoxification offer such opportunities.
Twelve step groups, made up of people with the same addictions, can also be very helpful. Being in the presence of those who have actually gotten free from that particular habit, and also with those who still have the habit but want to get free and have vowed to get free, is a very powerful support mechanism. But perhaps the first, and most important, step to this process is oneβs ability to recognize that he is stuck and to admit that he has, until now, been incapable of overcoming it.
Then we come to the third main door to freedom in such situations; faith in God. Developing a relationship with God (each according to his own beliefs and perceptions) is a very powerful solution for transcending habits. This faith gives a feeling of protection, support, love and deep inner caring coming from this Universal Being who will never betray us. This love relationship is the only lasting and invulnerable one. The security and self worth which we receive from this relationship allow us to go beyond those needs which are at the root of our addictions.
Thus if you are held back in your process by strong self defeating habits, in addition to analysis, we would do well to encourage you to:
a. Find a place where you can live for a time without having access to your habits.
b. Participate in a group of people with the same problem.
c. Develop your relationship with the Divine.
3. Conflicting desires and needs also can be an obstacle to change. We may want to get free and experience our own creative expression, but we might also desire to be accepted by others, or need to depend on them. Our other needs may then conflict with our original goal of self improvement.
In such cases we will need to analyze ourselves and understand what each of these needs is actually creating in our lives, so that we can choose what we want to do. We have the right to chose security and social recognition over our freedom and happiness, if that is our choice.
We might have a need to have a relationship, and on the other hand have a need to be free to do whatever we want, whenever we want. These are conflicting needs which will have to be worked out through analysis and also through inner dialogue.
4. There may also be a number of fears which may cause us to avoid change. Although we may want too change, we may fear that we may lose something important if we let go of that problem. The following chart ( fig. 57) points out a number of those reasons.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT PAY FOR ME TO GET WELL OR TO SUCCEED, OR TO BE WITHOUT A PROBLEM
1. If I get well:
a) They might not pay attention to me anymore, I might lose their attention and love.
b) I will need to undertake responsibility for my life (work, survival etc.). I am incapable of doing that.
c) It will be necessary to tire myself, and I will lose my comfort.
2. I can control others though my illness:
a) They must serve me.
b) They must not make me worry.
3. The others are responsible for what happened to me.
a) I have been treated unjustly and so others are unjust whereas I am justified, correct, good.
b) This way I punish them with my illness. I make them feel guilty.
4. I am guilty and I donβt deserve to be well. I must be punished, I must suffer.
5. Without my illness I am not important or interesting enough.
6. If I admit being happy or well, this might then be followed by something horrible.
Just a few words about each of these, as they are most likely self explanatory to most readers.
a. Some of us have come to believe that others will pay attention to us only if we have problems. This may have actually been our experience until now. We may believe that we have nothing interesting about us, and thus fear that we will not have the othersβ attention if we no longer have a problem. Thus, although we suffer from our problem, we are subconsciously afraid to let go of it.
b. Others of us have come to believe that we are incapable of coping with life, with responsibilities or with the rat race of survival. Our problem then becomes our subconscious excuse for our fear of facing up to all this, and why others must protect us and help us. If our problem is solved, we will then have to face life by our selves, something which we fear. This then will act as a subconscious obstacle to solving the problem.
c. One who is lazy for various reasons, physical or emotional, might find that a problem is a good excuse not to tire himself. Thus, although he may suffer and ask for help, he subconsciously prefers to have this problem which prevents him from asking much from himself in life.
d. Some discover that they can control others when they have problems, physical or mental. Since we have a problem, others must treat us in a special way. They must not ask much of us. They must serve us and help us, try to solve our problem. In such a case, the only thing we need to do is hook up to someone who is playing the role of the savior or who feels responsible for others and get them to try to solve our problems. We are then able to control them and have their attention.
e. In the same case they also must not worry us.They must not ask much from us, or speak harshly to us, or ask us to carry our load. They must do what we ask and not cause us to feel hurt. They must never ask us to see ourselves, because that might upset us. In such a case, why should we let go of our problem. It is our greatest asset and protection.
f. Those of us who have come to identify with the role of the abused and the victim need to keep our problem because our self worth is based on being wronged by someone, at least by life if not by specific persons. By being wronged by others, that verifies that the others who do us harm are wrong and evil, and thus that we ourselves are right and good. As victims we create a false sense of self-worth by being abused. If we have no other source of self-worth, then, although we may complain about the problem and how others are mistreating us, we subconsciously need this abuse in order to feel our self worth, and thus will undermine any solutions. If asked to imagine that the problem has disappeared completely and that that others treat us perfectly exactly as we desire, we will most likely feel an emptiness, or depression or panic.
g. Sharing with others the common belief that others create our reality, some may use our own self destruction to get back at and punish those whom we consider responsible for our pain. For example many children go into a mode of self destruction as a form of blackmail, control and revenge towards their parents. As long as we are locked into this game of blaming others for our reality, we will feel the need to keep our problem, because that makes them guilty. Solving our problems allows them to let go of their guilt, something which we are not ready to do.
h. Negative childhood experiences can create the false belief that we are not worthy and thus do not deserve a happy life without problems. Although we want to create a happy reality, we fear that we are not worthy of one, and thus subconsciously undermine our own attempts to create happiness, because we do not believe that we deserve it.
i. Our illness or problem may become our life focus, our connection with all whom we know and interact. We have become that problem. If we do not have it, we do not know who we will be, or what we will do, or how we will interact with others. We have no other frame of reference. Life without our problem is unfamiliar and scary.
When in such a position we will frequently play the “YES – BUT” game, in which we will present to the other our problem, so that he can get hooked into trying to find the solution. For every solution he suggests, we will have a very good answer as to why it will not work. The other keeps on trying to convince us and find the solution, as we drain all his energy by monopolizing all his attention and effort. This is the way we energize ourselves.
This is why it is essential when others play this role that we leave the responsibility for the solution to them as we simply ask questions which might help him or her decide what they want to do.
j. Those of us trapped in a belief system of clear cut opposites, such as good and evil, happiness and pain, success and failure, may fear that allowing ourselves to accept being happy and free from problems, might bring quickly the opposite which we fear greatly, and thus we prefer to stay in a state of having the known, tried and trusted problems, rather than to let go of them and go forth into happiness, risking falling then into something worse.
Those who believe in the “evil eye” will be more prone to such a problem of not being able to accept that everything is wonderful
SETTING REASONABLE GOALS
We proceed more effectively when we can define specific goals in small reachable increments. One of the obstacles we encounter in our growth process, or in any endeavor, is that we see the problem, the goal or that to be achieved as very large or very complex, or very far away and thus we never get started. We look to the top of the mountain and get discouraged saying, “It is too high, I will never be able to do it,” and thus never get started. Best would be to just look at the next step up that mountain and say, “well I think I can do that,” and then we are confronted with the next step and again we say ” Yes, I can do that.” And before we know it, we are there.
Of course, in order to specify what exactly the next step is, we will need to see the top of the mountain or at least know its direction. Thus we occasionally take out our compass to see in which direction we want to go, and then put our heads down and take the next step. In the same way we must regularly define what our goal is, what the purpose of our life is, and then take the next step towards that life purpose.
The very popular book CELESTIAL PROPHECY, addresses itself exactly to this matter of how to determine our life purpose, which gives birth to our present life question in relationship to that purpose. Then we watch for signs, such as coincidences, or messages from within or without, concerning the next step, and then move forward in that direction until we come to the next crossroad and the next question or choice comes to mind.
Having then established our present goal, which might be material, physical, emotional, mental, social, economic, spiritual etc., we then want to continue to determine as specifically as possible the steps we want to make this week, or at least this month, towards realization of that goal.
Some questions which might help us with this are:
1. “How would you express your goal at this point? What is it that you want to change, create, attain, or transform first?” Chose what you want to act on first?
2. “Why have you chosen this? Why is it important for you?” How do you feel that you will benefit from this change or effort? How is your life less pleasant by not making this effort?”
Establishing why we want to make these changes produces the awareness, motivation and momentum to develop the discipline necessary.
3. “How do you plan to start? What will be your first step?”
Here we want to get as specific an answer as possible.
“I will begin to love myself more,” is not a specific answer. More specific is ” I will offer myself a massage once a week.”
” I will work on my relationship with my spouse (or child), ” is not specific. More specific is “I will arrange to have a deep discussion with my spouse (or child) this week in order to explain to them what I have discovered.”
4. “When exactly will you do this and where? Can you be more specific about days or dates?”
Now we are being asked to commit ourselves to a more specific plan like ” I am free on Saturday mornings, I will get my massage then, or I will arrange to have a discussion with my spouse (child) on Sunday morning.”
Once we have clearly defined what we are going to do, it is much easier for us to proceed and make steps forward. We still may, however, be under the influences of various resistances which may undermine these decisions.
After a week or two we will want to reevaluate how our decisions went. If we discover that we have not acted on them yet, then avoid getting into the role of the teacher or parent and rejecting your self, but, like an adult, seek to objectively answer these questions again.
1. Do I want to do it?
2. Why do I want to do it?
3. What are its benefits for me?
4. What is the step I want to make this week? Was the previous step perhaps too difficult? Would I like to start with something else and build up to that one or will I work again on the same goal?
5. When and where will I take these actions?
This goes week after week until we have accomplished our goal. Then we ask these same questions about the next step. When we have not done what we set out to do, then we simply work through it again, with self acceptance, patience, perseverance and determination.
When we see that the resistance perseveres, we may want to work with the following questionnaire. The following questionnaire (fig. 58) will aid in revealing possible thought-forms which might obstruct our process of growth.
DISCOVERING OUR RESISTANCE TO CHANGE
As you answer these questions, have in mind a particular positive change you want to make in your life, but have noticed that you actually are not doing what you could or would like to do in relationship to that change.
1. Is there a part of you which:
a) Doubts whether you have the ability to succeed in this effort? What does this part of your self actually believe?
b) Doubts whether you have the right to create something better?
Perhaps you believe that you do not deserve something better.
Perhaps you have guilt feelings, and believe that you should not be happy.
Perhaps you believe that someone else will feel badly if you make this change in your life?
What does this part of yourself actually believe?
2. Is there a part of you which fears that if you make this change, something might be lost or put in danger?
a) Perhaps you fear that you will lose:
others attention, or
their love, or
their protection, or
perhaps some rights, or
some pleasures or comforts, or
some external form of support?
b) Is there apart of you which fears that, with such an improvement or success, you will then need to take responsibility for your life, and that perhaps you might not be able to cope?
3. Is there a part of you which prefers not to change or for this problem not to be solved because in this way:
a) You can keep the others feeling responsible for you?
b) You can make them feel guilty?
c) You can punish them or have your revenge?
4. Is there a part of you which does want this change because:
a) Others also want it and you do not want to give them the satisfaction?
b) It comes into conflict with other needs that you have. For example the need to lose weight conflicts with the need to enjoy food, or the need for a relationship conflicts with the need for freedom?
5. In relationship with the change you want to make:
a) What messages or examples did you have concerning that subject when you were young?
b) Did you, in general, receive what you wanted from your parents?
c) Did your parents have what you are now trying to create in your life with this change?
d) Do you believe that you deserve this change?
e) Do you believe that it is easy and natural for you to have what you want here, or is it difficult?
6. Based on your above analysis, what would you say are your inner obstacles towards making this particular positive change in your life?
7. What would you like to do in order to overcome these obstacles?
8. If you at this moment had total self confidence and self acceptance:
a) What is it that you would do, that you have been avoiding doing until now?
b) What is it that you would stop doing because you have been doing only because you do not have self acceptance?
9. Finally, what are you going to do?
Now, if you have discovered that you have avoided employing the various exercises and techniques or have avoided answering the questionnaires in this book, you may want to go back and benefit from them now.