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What We Resist Persists

Psychologist and researcher Carl Jung believed that what we resist persists – or in his exact words, “what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” When we resist a certain idea or situation it is because we are identifying too strongly with it. When we resist we give more attention to that concept. Our focus creates perceived power for whatever force or event we are experiencing. The reality is that we are only observers of this situation or event. To release ourselves from these feelings we need to realize that we do not have control, none of us does. And isn’t that infuriating?

The illusion of control infiltrates our daily lives. Because of our routines we experience alleged predictability. We presume because we always take this route or follow this pattern the results will be the same. Often we are able to seemingly predict the future simply because we are nestled into a comfortable routine. However, as any dramatic event can quickly show us, the way the day progresses is not promised. We can know the routine intimately and still be surprised when an accident on the highway makes us late or someone pivotal to our lives passes away unexpectedly leaving our entire reality upended. 

The goal is not only to embrace change but rather let go of the illusion of control. We do this by leaning into the resistance. Instead of fighting the situation we let go and let it happen. There is no need to resist because our moods, energy, future are not tied to the outcome.

For example, a boss is hired who is less skilled than you. This does not make you less qualified for your role, or theirs. It simply is. The illusion of power afforded to employers is not power over your reality or even your daily life. Just as your employer determines whether or not they will hire you. You determine if you will accept the role and under what conditions you are willing to work. The actions and activities of others are not a reflection on you or your work. You may choose to invest energy into fighting reality but you are only giving power to that perspective and not yourself.

In order to release yourself from the tension – that in the moment admittedly feels intense – you have to stop resisting the experience. Let go of the illusion of control. What we resist persists. When we resist we add scrutiny, attention, and energy to a situation and it becomes a problem. The key is to see what is rather than all of the meaning, interpretations, and value that you have imposed upon it. Release yourself from the resistance. Until you free yourself, the situation can only persist because it is consuming so much of your attention. Value is created by you and your attachment or disengagement with the experience. When you let go, you free yourself to focus on something else.

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