Three Kinds of Resistance: Part 2

In my life, it seems that resistance can come from three places, and only one of those requires me to dig in and continue the force of resistance. I want to talk about the second of those three places: a source external to me.

If we live long enough, we will have experiences in which someone or some system exercises their power over us in a way that stops us cold in our tracks. This could be an employer handing down a new “company policy” that forbids something that was until that moment standard operating procedure. In this instance, the resistance we experience is not coming from within us (immediately) but is coming from some source outside of us, and when that source has power that it can exercise over us, we may find ourselves facing what feels like an insurmountable brick wall. 

In these kinds of situations, the external resistance can certainly invoke some ego resistance as well (see Part 1 of these reflections), and it might move over into a third kind of resistance (see part 3) but for the moment, let’s consider the brick wall. Someone with the power to do so has created a barrier to us doing something that we are inclined to do. Now what?

In my own experience, I want to start with a “check in” with the source of the resistance. Have I misunderstood? Has my engagement in the newly forbidden activity been unknown or somehow caused a problem that has provoked this new resistance? Can we step back and reconsider? Is there a way around this new obstacle? Is there some way that the obstacle could be removed in the near future? These are all forms of negotiation, and occasionally they may work. I’ve engaged in them at work with administrators who issued a new policy, and in the process of negotiations, I was able to make them aware of how that unintentionally negatively affected members of my department.  In light of that, a new way was found around the obstacle. In other situations, after all the negotiating, I found myself facing a brick wall. Impenetrable and unmovable. That is a hard moment because in that place I have found myself having to decide on major life changes. My path cannot proceed in this direction. I must change my course and find a new direction. 

In this instance, resistance has become the cause for a total change of course. That’s not easy. It may not happen quickly. Mourning and loss are involved, and at some point, I have the opportunity to embrace with joy a new path. This sort of resistance will show me, eventually, that very often joy arises out of sorrow, and that the two are almost never far from each other. 

~Bob Patrick

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3 Responses to Three Kinds of Resistance: Part 2

  1. katrina yurko says:

    Part 2 is such a natural flow from the ego centered source of resistance Part 1. It seems like the way these experiences pan out are somewhat like the developmental stages of Maslow or Blooms taxonomy. There is structure and readiness factors that either liberate or incarcerate us from the outside. The policy, the law, the standards of our day all have impact whether we like it or not, and no matter where we stand in our world. When a policy change is desirable it gives us an edge of confirmation. But, in due course these changes are not always welcome.
    Case in point. The city of Snellville is now charging city members $144.00 a year to pick up and process recyclables. This is big. The policy has unintended/ collateral damage . The trouble with it is at the heart of its Principle. Principle is that everyone should have the right, privilege and or freedom to carry through with personal standards, but now, cant because they don’t have the means, the money. the mobility to do it. This is when things start to get messy. What is the effect in the end? most people I have talked to are outraged that the city is forcing the citizens to pay for the service. Others are boycotting to show that they support the principle of freedom. Still others are banning together and one person on the cul-de-sac puts out the Designated Container and everyone on the court shares the service. This takes stepping up and beyond the old standard and embracing the new, even if we don’t agree with policy. We have a deeper commitment to earth and we take a lead in consolidating the volumes and making sure the recyclables are within the acceptable list. Lots of effort. The more effort , the more angst generated, until this new directive becomes the new normal. Why fight this? is this where we embrace the new path?

  2. katrina yurko says:

    My apologies for being so verbose. I love this blog, and I love to be a commentator. Thank you for writing these , I read them 2x or more to get my head around it. Please excuse my monologues and my attempts to comprehend the rich ideas posited here. Every author that contributes to this site has a unique writing style and a perspective that is just as powerful time and time again.

    • Bob Patrick says:

      No apologies required, Katrina. We make the comment section available just for this–the conversations that the blog hopefully creates and all the comments help to extend.

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