If you try to get better at feeling your feelings, you might notice resistance coming up. In this episode I talk about two primary ways to respond to resistance that will help you. When you sign up for Presence between now and January 6, 2024, you receive a bonus of 6 private sessions with me. Sign up for a free session to explore this option.
Today, we’re going to talk about resistance. Okay. So in the last episode, we talked about how to feel your feelings.
But I mentioned this experience I had when I went to the life coach school mastermind a few years ago, and I saw a presentation by another coach named Rachel Hart, and she was talking about the difference between thinking about your emotions and actually feeling your emotions and her entire presentation really struck me.
So I came home from that presentation thinking, okay, I’m going to do some of the things that she said. This is what I need. This is my next step. I’m going to feel my feelings. I’m going to get in my body. I’m going to practice being embodied. And the first thing she said, just a really easy way to start feeling your feelings was to go on walks with the intention of feeling your feelings, describing to yourself, as you’re walking, what you’re feeling, what you’re noticing in your body.
And so I thought, great, I’m going to set a goal for myself to walk every day. And then it was fall, I think it was middle of September, maybe. And for a while that was fine. And then I realized. I don’t like going on walks in the winter because I don’t like feeling cold and it doesn’t matter if I can have a hat and gloves and my winter coat on and I’m always cold.
I think I’ve realized after a couple years of doing this that a lot of that cold is kind of in my mind, right? It’s like I’m expecting to feel cold. And also a lot of it was practiced resistance. So I know this is going to be an obstacle that many of you come up against when you decide that you want to feel your feelings or you want to get better at feeling your feelings.
And I think coaching with me would be a fantastic way to do that. But I get it. If not everybody wants to partner with somebody to do this work, or maybe you can’t afford it, or maybe you don’t have time, or it’s just not the time for whatever reason for you, you can do this on your own. I think the progress is a little slower because there is something to be said about sitting with another person, even if it is virtually over zoom and feeling their support in, in kind of helping you do a hard thing, which is feeling your feelings.
The very first thing I noticed was this resistance, this resistance to actually feeling. So my goal was to kind of feel my emotions, which I tend to use the word feeling and emotion interchangeably, but the sensations in your body are just sensations, hot, cold, heavy, light, sharp, dull, those kinds of things. When we place meaning on those sensations, then they become an emotion, right? So if I tell you, “Well, I’m feeling really heavy in my chest and it just feels like this big empty hole and it’s dark,” you’re probably going to think, “Hmm, sounds like sadness.”
Because you place meaning on that. So my goal when I first came home from this mastermind was to feel my emotions, was to get to know my sadness and my anger and my joy and like all those kinds of emotions. But immediately what came up was I don’t want to go for a walk because I don’t like being cold.
I don’t like feeling cold. Ding, ding, ding. This is the perfect place to start. So then I just backed up and I just thought, okay, if this is the whole point is to feel the sensations, I’m going to go on walks with the intention of feeling cold. Now I still wore my coat and my gloves and my hat, but I knew that if I felt cold, I would be focusing on feeling what that feels like in my body.
And I did that for probably a year and a half, really going on walks every day with the intention of feeling cold in order to practice feeling what cold feels like. And what I noticed was lots of resistance. Now for me and for many people, I don’t want to say that this is for sure across the board everyone, but when I feel resistance, it shows up as tightness, tenseness in my neck and shoulders.
That’s typically what it feels like for me, I would maybe say a little bit more generalized tightness or tenseness throughout my body, but I really notice it in my neck and shoulders. So I would walk and I would tell myself, “you can feel cold and tight, or you can just feel cold.” And so what this looked like is going out on a walk and having my shoulders up at my ears and noticing that and then dropping them down and then 10 seconds later noticing, “Oh, my shoulders are at my ears again, drop them down.”
And I would go on about a 15, 20 minute loop near my house. And every 10, 15 seconds, I would consciously relax my neck and shoulders until that became habit. And it took a long time for me now became kind of a mantra. You can feel cold and tight or you can just feel cold.
So the other thing I like to say, because resistance is just a part of life, I like to say, “if you can’t get out of it, get into it.” So with resistance in particular, I really, really like that idea. Resistance doesn’t feel good for most of us humans. We don’t like it. And so we want to get away from it, which causes more resistance. So I first started there. I’m going to talk about two responses to resistance.
I first started practicing letting go of resistance, kind of consciously relaxing myself to let go of it. And I think that was useful to an extent because really what it did is it built a lot of awareness for myself. But then later on, cause I didn’t know this at the time, I learned about the value of going more into the sensation.
So whatever emotion you’re feeling, you can consciously relax it almost like a meditation where we notice what’s in our body or we notice our thoughts and we let it go. Notice, let go, notice, let go. But you can also follow the resistance.
You can also increase the resistance. And what this typically looks like is tight, tight, tighten, tighten, tighten more, more, more as tight as you can, like just put your whole body into a little ball or a scroll or something and hold that tightness until you’re just like, Oh, I can’t hold that anymore.
Because here’s the thing. There is a reason why we resist. So sometimes when we try to consciously let go or loosen the resistance, we’re actually working against what our body really wants or needs. So now that I know this, I like to do this part first, where I go into the resistance even more.
I let myself resist. It’s almost like letting the stress response get even more intense so that I can get to the other side of that stress wave, right? So I let myself curl up and tighten, tighten, tighten as much as possible, hold it as long as I can. And then there comes a time when I’m just like, Oh, I don’t like that.
It’s almost like your body naturally lets go of it when you follow it. Does that make sense? The other thing I wanted to mention here is that each sensation in our body has a message. We get messages when it’s time to eat or when it’s time to drink some water. We get messages when we need to use the bathroom or when we need to rest or sleep.
We get messages when something just isn’t quite right or isn’t quite right for us. And learning how to allow those sensations and not be afraid of them, not block them is a crucial part of connecting back in with yourself and being able to understand the messages that our bodies are giving us.
But if we live in this constant state of resistance, it kind of blocks the ability to notice anything but the resistance. I mean, we do, we can, you can notice some things, but it has to be kind of like a really high amplitude emotion to notice it. What I have found over the years in processing my own emotions, being present to my own body is that the more I do this work, the more detailed this work gets.
The more I noticed at first, just like I said, the really big emotions are really intense emotions. And now I notice subtle little changes. And I think that’s really valuable. I think that’s something that brings us back into ourselves, into connection with ourselves. Like I said in the last episode, it helps us to foster trust with ourselves.
It helps us to know ourselves. And so this is one of the reasons why I so love feeling your feelings and being present to your inner world, because it is a simple thing that has. It’s so many far reaching consequences.
So if you liked this episode on resistance, I genuinely think that you would love my small group coaching program called presence.
I named it presence because that’s my goal to be present to our inner world and our outer world. And from now until January 6th, 2024, when you sign up for presence, you get a bonus of six private sessions to be used anytime during the year you’re in presence because it’s a one year program. So I hope you feel the power of this.
I hope you try on some of the things that I mentioned here in this episode, and I hope you let it work in your life. That’s enough for now. And so are you.