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What You Resist, Persists

April 12, 2019

Human behavior is a funny thing, isn’t it?

We want good relationships, emotions, and behaviors but for some reason, we tend to do the opposite of what we want, which leads to bad relationships, emotions, and behaviors.

A great example is wanting to be healthy. We want to wake up early and go to the gym, but we don’t.

And even weirder than doing the opposite of what we want – when we screw up we beat ourselves up.

Why did I drink that much last night? So stupid….

Why can’t I just go to the gym? I’m lazy….

I ate too much and feel soooooooo full? Why can’t I control myself?……..

Why in the hell did I answer his call and go out with him again when I know he’s not really interested?….Such an idiot!

Then, the negative self-talk plays over and over again — which makes us feel crazy!

What do you do that you can’t seem to stop doing but it’s something you wished you didn’t do and/or you regret afterward?

Do you ever wonder why you can’t stop even though it seems you really want to?

It’s because what you resist, a.k.a ignore, don’t deal with, keep doing the same thing with no resolution, deny, push under the rug, pretend it’s not happening – persists.

Shortened up; What you resist, persists.

And I’m guessing you know the definition of persisting but it’s worth pointing out – to continue firmly in opinion or action in spite of opposition, failure or difficulty.

Some persistence can be a good thing. Like when you really want to land a job – you persist! When you really want to save up for that house – you persist! It can be good but when it’s in the form of persistently ignoring a problem, it’s detrimental. Persistence can cause a lot of damage to ourselves and everyone around us.

This concept of what you resist persists is from the psychologist, Carl Jung who said it this way – “What you resist not only persists but will grow in size.”

Oh dear lord. GROW IN SIZE?!!? YIKES. So not only does that action/behavior persist, it GROWS!!! AND GETS WORSE!

So basically if you do something over and over again and you don’t like the behavior or your friends and family comment on it not being productive – you’re resisting the behavior by not addressing it and therefore you are keeping it going.

One thing I resisted for years was my damaged relationship with food. The constant struggle between what I wanted and my actions was maddening. In my head, I wanted to be the best version of me. I wanted to feel good and look good. So I’d go on a diet to “get healthy” and then find myself “cheating” on the diet and feeling guilty and terrible about myself (and most of the time just gaining the weight back anyway, which made it all worse).

I’d repeat this cycle over and over again. And all I could ever think was, “If I want to be healthy if I want the best for myself, then why the hell can’t I stick to the diet and exercise program?”

I’m guessing a lot of you are nodding yes ma’am, been there done that!

Looking back, the most frightening part wasn’t so much the “normal” diet cycle but the seriously weird shit I did around food.

For example, I wouldn’t keep “bad” food in my house for fear of going crazy on it the minute nobody was looking. So, when I visited a friends house, a party, or did anything where I seemed to be “allowed” to eat, I’d go all in – devouring everything and anything.

Essentially, if I had “permission” I’d take full advantage and eat until I felt super full and sometimes sick.

And worse yet, I’d feel super guilty afterward. This cycle played out more times than I can count.

Until one day, I got home from a work trip and found myself lying on the floor crying because I had yet again, blew my diet on the road (this was a very typical experience). I yet again, ate when no one was looking. Stopped at McDonald’s on the way home from the airport because I was starving and used the excuse of it being the only place on my way home (not true).

I had to really look at what this meant for me to get it to stop. I had to go deep...really really deep to figure it out.

A few things I found…..

  1. I had body image issues from a young age and into adulthood – why wouldn’t I? I was like 12 with a double D bra! My body didn’t particularly “fit in” starting at a young age.
  2. I had relatives who picked on fat people (and a lot of them being picked on weren’t even fat!)
  3. Society..don’t even get me started on this soapbox! But it’s a thing for sure #airbrushing.
  4. Fatigue – most of my unhealthy habits/eating that kept me from reaching my goals were on the road when I was sleeping in hotels, staying up late, and drinking more alcohol than usual.
  5. I restricted foods so when I was “allowed” to eat them, I went whole hog.
  6. I realized I wasn’t doing things for me and my health. I was trying to change my body for the outside world a.k.a. extrinsic motivation versus intrinsic motivation.

There was more ..but the point is, I never really faced the feelings of wanting to lose weight. I just kept on …resisting to think about the real deep reasons and the problem persisted.

Once I went deep, I could manage my behaviors and emotions around my body. And just like I learned to manage my self deprecating feelings about my body, my lack of willpower, my inability to lose weight and keep it off — you too can manage the feelings/behaviors that keep you in the resist/persist cycle.

How to stop RESISTING (ignoring) AND PERSISTING (the bad behavior keeps going)

Tony Robbins, says you can be the master of your emotions (not control them) but master them in six steps, which will help you stop resisting your feelings/emotions/actions and start addressing them head-on. Which ultimately stops unwanted behaviors having a “mind of their own”.

Tony’s six steps to emotional mastery a.k.a not persisting on negative behaviors are:

  1. Identify what you’re really feeling. In my example of always wanting to lose weight, I didn’t really ever think about what I was really feeling. I knew I wanted to lose weight and look/feel better but I didn’t know where exactly this was coming from. I had to admit I had body image issues. And I knew this because, at my smallest, I still didn’t think it was good enough. And trust me, I was teeny tiny — looking back at photos I can NOT believe I wasn’t happy with myself. And when I would make poor nutritional choices on my way home from the airport — what I didn’t realize is, I was just tired. That’s it. And there was no reason to beat myself up over it! I was just tired. Again, I resisted this feeling because I was supposed to be a road warrior! And fatigue wasn’t a real thing as a badass sales rep.
  2. Acknowledge and appreciate your feelings/actions (they’re serving a purpose…figure out what that purpose is and appreciate it). This is always the hardest step if you ask me. Appreciating bad behaviors or unwanted feelings is truly an exercise in discipline and strength. But keeping with the example…for me, I wanted to lose weight to fit in. That’s a great thing to want for yourself. Everyone desires to be a part of something. I wanted to be loved – also a great thing to want for yourself. And a huge part of me thought I wouldn’t be if I didn’t look a certain way. It served a purpose and a good one because who strives to not be loved?? Seeking love is a good thing! I learned to appreciate my dieting behaviors because they were serving a serious purpose.
  3. Get curious about the message this emotion/behavior is offering you. In my case, I started asking myself — do I have body image issues? Is this possible?? And when I realized yes, I do…I thought oh wow! Why? Why do I have issues with this? And things came up for me that normally, I wouldn’t have ever thought about. I thought I should just be able to go on a diet like a normal damn person and lose weight and/or eat like a normal damn person and not always worry about gaining weight. But then I got curious and all sorts of things came up. Realizing my family shamed fat people was huge. I never had thought about this before. Of course, I was fearing fat – my family wouldn’t like me if I was fat (was my narrative). Asking myself “why” with gentle curiosity was a huge step for me!
  4. Get confident. Here is where you can depend on times when you’ve managed something challenging in the past. Preferably the same or similar emotion/behavior. When I figured out the root of my issue was body image — I was devastated. I thought, not me! But then, I quickly realized that many people struggle with this too, and they overcome it. Also, I remembered times when I learned things about myself that I didn’t particularly love and improved on them, which gave me the confidence I could improve this too. For example, my husband once told me I am a chronic interrupter — GASP! Ugh. That made me so very sad. I love talking to people and having conversations and to hear that I was a chronic interrupter crushed me. I thought I was a great listener! But, I asked around and figured out ways to overcome this habit. If you can point to a time where you’ve overcome something hard/big or similar, you will have the confidence to change the unwanted behavior/emotion.
  5. Get certain you can handle this feeling/action not only today but in the future. Picture yourself handling what it is you want to handle and visualize taking care of it. For me, I knew I’d have a long painful road ahead dealing with my body image issues. And I also knew, I wouldn’t be able to avoid people talking about their bodies and dieting. I knew I’d be triggered into wanting to diet again for body image reasons and not health reasons. So, I considered a game plan of what I would do in those moments to handle myself and not get on a high horse about how people shouldn’t diet yadda yadda yadda. Nobody wants to hear it…and I planned for that by visualizing my response.
  6. Get excited and take action. Of course, one of the best ways to see anything through to the end is get pumped about it! Knowing you’ve thought long and hard about the behavior, the steps you need to take to address it, etc. should get you pumped to go out and conquer. Will it be easy? No! But knowing you can do it, should be exciting for you!

So, now….again, I am going to ask… what are persisting in your life because you are resisting it? Whatever it is, know that you absolutely have the strength and courage to change it! It may not be easy, but it’s definitely doable!




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