The more we resist something the more it persists. What we must come to realize is that behind our resistance is everything we’re looking for. We only need to find the courage to stop resisting. Instead of thinking you’re right, begin asking, “How do you know you’re right?”
What is one thing that you are really resisting in your life? It may be a loved one who is trying to extend themselves to you. It may be an enormous business opportunity. It may be having a little more faith. Find that one thing you’re resisting and try and let go, get to the bottom of it, why do you really resist that?
A few years back I attended a retreat. And this retreat, they had many different lectures on all different types of subjects. And there was a person there attending the retreat as well who I knew quite well. And this person was attending a particular lecture that I was also sitting in. And I knew that the subject of this lecture was particularly challenging for this friend of mine. I knew they had a very great difficulty with this particular subject and there was a part of me that was happy that they were attending because I was hoping that the lecture would enlighten them on this subject that they were so challenged by. At the end of the lecture, I went over to them and I said, So, what did you think? And they said, Well, you know, hemming and hawing and really resisting the message of the lecture. And sort of out of my mouth just came these words and I just said, What is it that is making you resist this so strongly?
And what’s interesting is that this person is a coach and they said, You know, that’s a real coach type of a question to ask, what is it that’s making you resist this so strongly? And the reason why it’s a very good coaching question is because very often when we confine the reason why we’re truly resisting a message and, therefore, pull out the rug from under that resistance because we find out what’s behind our resistance and we stop resisting, we actually get past our resistance and we can move forward. But as long as we resist, whatever it is that we are resisting, then we are making this issue an issue that will not go away because we’re continuously fighting with it.
And this really all comes from our nature to be closed to things which are uncomfortable for us and, therefore, we are just too uncomfortable and we don’t want to consider it. And this, the resistance, isn’t always a bad thing. There are many things in life that we need to resist, no question about it. But if we look at so many of the things that we resist, we will find that if we were able to get rid of our resistance, very often right behind our resistance is the very thing that we need in our life that will propel us forward more than anything else. Sometimes the challenge or the obstacle we find in our way is the greatest blessing as long as we are ready to get past it instead of resisting it. And to find what fear there is within us that is terrifying us from taking this on, which is ‑‑ and the fear that is continuously keeping us in the state of resistance instead of actually moving forward.
And very often I would say that resistance is the indicator that we need to look deeper. Very often when we find ourselves resisting something so strongly, that actually is a message to us in and of itself to say, this is where your growth opportunity is, it’s in this very thing that is challenging you. And that’s why there are so many breakthroughs that people experience when we are willing to be able to notice when we’re resisting something that maybe everything is right behind this resistance. Let me try and figure out, investigate why it is that I am resisting this, that I am in such fear of this. And when we get past that, suddenly the floodgates open and things happen that we were waiting to happen for so long. And you know what was stopping those things from happening? Nothing other than ourselves and our resistance.
This really is what anger is. Anger is resisting what’s going on in our life so we get angry about it, which is just a form of resisting and protesting what it is that’s going on. And when we stop getting angry, we just say, okay, this really is because it is, it’s just the reality, right, whether I like it or not, whether it’s just or injust, whether it’s right or wrong, it should or shouldn’t be, it doesn’t make a difference, it is, so I’m not going to resist it, I’m going to accept it and then say, okay, where do I go from here? Those are people who resolve things. Angry people don’t resolve things. They remain angry. It’s the ones who don’t get angry or learn to get past their anger and get past that anger resistance that suddenly has the clear head to say, okay, what can we do now?
And this is true in, you know, many major decisions that we make in our lives, whether they are interpersonal relationship issues, whether they are even business issues. When we learn to ask ourselves what can I do about this instead of getting caught up in what happened and protesting it and resisting it, then we turn ‑‑ we turn negative things into things which are very productive. My very good friend, Dr. Richard Letus, just shared with me this great quote that when we resist, it persists. Our very resistance is what makes the very issue persist because we are engaging with it.
Think of it like a tug of war. If you’re having a tug of war with another person with a long rope, as long as you’re pulling your end, you’re going to feel the resistance of them pulling their end. Right? The moment you let go, then the resisting end goes flying away from you. And that’s exactly what happens. Like I very often say, you know, when you have someone with negative energy who’s coming down on you, you know, they’re yelling at you or whatever it is, it’s sort of like a ping pong game; as long as you are hitting the ball back, they can ferociously hit the ball right back to you. But if you don’t play the game, you just don’t hit back, there’s no ball for them to send back to you. And that is when we stop resisting what they’re saying and we just say, okay, I’ll take it all, just let it go. And it just comes and you don’t resist it, you don’t try to stop it. Very often that is the way to dispel the very issue.
And there are so many people, and I am sure that you have at least one example in your life, maybe many. They may not be huge examples but there is some example in your life, I am sure, of something that you resisted and then you decided that you’re just going to stop resisting and open yourself up to get past your fear and just look at this a little bit more honestly and suddenly you dispel the whole issue and you advanced yourself significantly. So many people have stories of how when they realize that they were just insistent that they knew or they were insistent that this is wrong or they were insistent that whatever it is and so they resisted anything that people were suggesting to them, the moment they stopped resisting, that was the moment that everything changed.
A friend of mine recently approached me about an idea. And it’s an idea that has a stigma attached to it in our society. And most people he approached with this idea turned him down. And I heard it and I know the stigma is attached to this idea and it would have been much easier for me to have turned him down. But I decided I’m not going to turn him down, I’m not just going to follow the mainstream, I want to hear him out fully and investigate this project fully. And only then if I find that it’s right for me to turn him down I will. Because I didn’t want to just resist it with resistance and then turn down a potentially great opportunity and nor did he deserve another person to just slam the door in his face without hearing him out because he may actually have the idea. You never know where the idea comes from.
There is a ‑‑ you may have heard of a gentleman by the name of Ray Dalio, who actually is the CEO of the largest hedge fund in the world. And he shared, I heard in an interview him sharing this and it just brings out this point beautifully and it’s so fascinating. He shared this idea. He said in August of 1982, he said, I thought that the market, because he works in the stockmarket, everything was going to fall apart. And he basically put all his bets, so to speak, into the market falling apart. And he said I couldn’t have been more wrong. And it was painfully wrong because I had built a company until that point, he says. He says we were a tight group, a small group of people. I had to let everybody go. I was so broke I had to borrow $4,000 from my dad.
So here is a man who became very successful and now he lost everything and he was now in debt. He had to testify before Congress, it was a big mess. And it turned out, he says, to be probably the best experience of my life because it changed my attitude about thinking. In other words, rather than thinking I am right, I went to thinking, how do I know I’m right? And it created the open-mindedness to be able to then go, find the smartest people who disagreed with me to see how they would think about things to balance my bets better. It taught me a radical open-mindedness. It taught me that radical open-mindedness is such a powerful thing.
This message from Ray Dalio was so powerful because he stopped resisting and instead of knowing that this isn’t something or that this is a problem when people presented things to him, he started asking, how do I know that it isn’t a good thing or that it is a problem or whatever it is that we think and self‑check himself. And by doing that, we look ‑‑ we take away our resistance of things, our knee‑jerk reaction to things, and we give things a little bit more time and we discover possibilities that otherwise we would never have discovered.
And so I turn to you and I ask you, what are the things ‑‑ or, let’s begin with one thing. What is one thing that you are really resisting in your life? It may be a loved one who is trying to extend themselves to you. It may be an enormous business opportunity. It may be having a little more faith. Find that one thing you’re resisting and try and let go, get to the bottom of it, why do you really resist that? And try to get to the bottom of it and try to let go of it and see where it takes you. I am sure you will discover that it takes you to places you would never otherwise have gone. And you will see what a blessing it is.