In the course of my work, I’ve seen thousands of people get stuck in misery, even when they knew how to move into their peace and joy.
How often do you get stuck in the anger, anxiety, withdrawal or depression of your wounded self? You know you can open, pray, invite love into your heart and do your inner work, yet how often do you find yourself resisting doing so? You might hear yourself say things like, “It won’t work,” or “I can’t” or “God isn’t there for me so why bother?”
The problem is that our wounded self often gets stuck in the Resistance Syndrome. We don’t want to open, we don’t want to love, we don’t want to be controlled by what we “should” do, nor controlled by God. Perversely, even though we may feel miserable, we refuse to open to learning and loving ourselves and others.
When we finally do open, we feel happy and peaceful, wondering why it took us so long. In fact, once we open, we may find ourselves thinking, “I’m never going back to that misery. This feels so great, so full. This is what life is about!”
Yet next time we are triggered into our hurt, anger or fear, we go right back to being stuck in our darkness. Why? Why do we persist in resisting the very thing that would bring us joy?
Understanding your intent is the key to understanding your resistance to loving. When you resist opening to Spirit, resist doing your inner work, it’s because your highest priority in that moment is to control and resist being controlled. Controlling and not being controlled becomes your god, your purpose. When control is your highest priority, you will not open to loving. You may believe that if you open you will be too vulnerable to being hurt, rejected, dominated. It is more important in that moment to avoid the pain of what you fear than it is to be loving to yourself and others, even though you are causing yourself worse pain by disconnecting from Spirit. So you punish whoever you think caused your pain – which may be yourself, God, a loved one – by staying in darkness.
All of this is because your wounded self thinks it can find its way by itself. It thinks if it stays safe by shutting down, not caring, numbing out with substances or processes, it will be okay. It wants control, especially control over not being controlled, more than anything, and it can’t maintain the illusion of control and open to being guided by Spirit at the same time.
This is the human dilemma with which we all struggle: who is in charge of our lives – our wounded self or our spiritual Guidance? Many of us turn to Guidance when things are going well, but immediately revert to the controlling ways of our wounded self as soon as our safety and security are threatened. What do you do when someone is angry at you, blames you, doesn’t do what you want? What do you do when things don’t go your way? Do you do your inner work and turn to your Guidance for what is loving to yourself and others, or do you turn to your addictions to anger, withdrawal, substances and processes? How long do you stay stuck in your wounded self? Following are some examples of people choosing to stay stuck in the Resistance Syndrome.
Veronica was enraged at her son. She was extremely frustrated at not having control over his refusal to do his homework. They had an ongoing power struggle over homework, and while Veronica realized that she was participating in the power struggle by trying to control her son, she refused to stop. The control was so important, as well as not being controlled by his resistance to her control, that she would keep escalating her anger until she’d hit him. Mortified at the last time she did this, she called me for help.
I was able to help Veronica open to her love and her Guidance, yet as long as control and not being controlled was more important to her than loving, I knew she would succumb to her rage again and again. Only when loving and being guided by Spirit becomes her highest priority will she move beyond her rage. The problem is, Veronica is resistant to loving because her very controlling father always wanted her to be loving. Not being controlled by her father has always been more important to Veronica than loving herself and others. Veronica is caught between not wanting to be controlled by her father and wanting control over her son. Until whether or not her father thinks he is in control becomes irrelevant to Veronica, she will be stuck in the darkness of her wounded self.
Malcolm is a man with everything – a lovely wife and family, plenty of money, his health – yet he is rarely happy. Malcolm is devoted to having control over people liking him, approving of him, and paying attention to him. When he comes home from work, he doesn’t think about giving love to his wife and family. Instead, he wants to be filled up by them. When he goes to a social event, he doesn’t think about what he can offer to others. Instead, he wants control over how they feel about him. At work, he doesn’t think about how he can support his employees. Instead, he wants control over how they treat him.
Malcolm’s highest priority is having control and not being controlled. Until being a loving human being has a higher priority, Malcolm will continue to experience the emptiness and unhappiness he has had most of his life.
Ted is in a new relationship with Kathy. They are deeply in love and blissfully happy when they are connected. However, when Kathy doesn’t do things the way Ted thinks they should be done, Ted becomes a critical parent, telling Kathy in a harsh way what she has done wrong. Kathy goes into denial and resistance to being controlled by Ted, Ted then withdraws, and suddenly the love is gone. Both start fantasizing about leaving the relationship, when just moments before they were so in love. The last time this happened, Ted stayed shut down for days, feeling miserable but unwilling to open to loving.
In our phone session, I ask Ted to take Kathy’s hands, look into her eyes, and remember his love for her. “I don’t want to,” he said. :”I know,” I said, “but do it anyway, even though you don’t want to.” He did. Then I said, “Now give her a hug.” “I don’t want to,” he said. “Do it anyway,” I said, and he did. Then I asked him how he felt. “Much better!,” he said. “This was a breakthrough!”
The breakthrough was that he stopped allowing his wounded self to be in charge. The last thing his wounded self wanted was to give in and open. Yet by resisting loving, he was keeping himself in misery.
If we want to have peace, love and joy in our lives, our devotion to loving needs to be stronger than our devotion to control. We need to see our wounded self as a child who needs to be disciplined, rather than the part of us that needs to be in charge. We need to decide to love even when it feel so very hard to do, even when our wounded self desperately wants control. This means that whether or not we are controlled by ourselves, others or God becomes irrelevant. When we make control and being controlled irrelevant and when love becomes more important than control, we will move into our personal power. Control loses its appeal when we experience, over and over, the joy of loving. And, of course, we will never end up feeling controlled when we speak our truth and set limits as a loving adult, rather than as a wounded self just going into resistance.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?”, “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By My Kids?”, “Healing Your Aloneness”, “Inner Bonding”, and “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?” Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org