The strange magic of resistance

For about five months, I have been planning a trip to Taos, New Mexico, the small mountain town of 10,000 people where I spent the first sixteen years of my life.  And have been encountering strange levels of resistance about making the trip.

Then last week, I experienced something utterly, ridiculously magical that has had me entirely rethink resistance — the wily, hard-to-wrestle beast that tends to bedevil the creator, artist, writer, early-morning exerciser, dutiful bridesmaid, corporate lackey, or hopeful traveler in all of us.


So, I was clear I wanted to be in Taos, because on this trip I would get to bring my five-year-old to see his grandmother and aunt who haven’t seen him since he was nine months old.  I would get to see friends I haven’t seen since high school, when I left to go to a boarding school for dance.  I would get to do a book reading in my hometown, and would be introduced by one of my literary sheros and dear friends, Mirabai Starr (whose work I’ll share about below).  I would get to say hello to Taos Mountain, onto whose bosom I was born.

But every time I went to buy the tickets, I didn’t.

Then last week while I was going through the calendar for my son’s school year, I realized the first day of kindergarten — which is kind of like winning an Oscar for a five-year-old — started a week earlier than I thought.  The very week I had planned for our Taos homecoming trip.  (This mama, not so sharp sometimes, I know).

I had to laugh and appreciate the cheeky intelligence of my resistance, which had kept me from booking that ill-timed trip.

My friend and author Sera Beak likes to say that often we are like a cartoon character as we try earnestly to get to our destination, legs spinning and arms pumping, while our intuitive self stands squarely in front of us, hand on our chest, keeping us in place.  It’s a visual that pretty much nails the experience of resistance, don’t you think?  (Good one, Sera).

So here are my thoughts about the four different kinds of resistance, and the four important messages your intuition is trying to convey through your resistance.

(Four is all I’ve dreamed up so far, and likely there are more, or more nuances to reveal — I’m hoping we can add to this list together, oui?)

#1:  Not yet.

“Not yet,” is the message coming to you, through resistance, from your intuition.

Intuition says, “You don’t yet have enough information.  I won’t let you act yet since you don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle.  Stay put, and wait for the rest of what you need to make this choice or head off in this direction.”

This is the kind of resistance you feel when you plan a lovely trip home and somehow can’t seem to press “purchase” on Orbitz.

#2:  No.

“No, sweetheart, just no,” is the message coming to you, through resistance, from your intuition.

Your Intuitive self says, “This is bad for you or just not right or true or healthy for you.  What’s that you say? Everyone else is doing it?  You have fear of missing out?  Ah, too bad.  This one is a flat-out no.  I can see farther and clearer than you can, trust me on this one.  I won’t let you get into it because it will take more than it will give, or it might outright harm you.”

This is the kind of resistance you feel when you’ve just been offered more money (and more late-night hours) but you get the undeniable nudge to walk out of the meeting and quit your job-job, even with only a few months’ savings in the bank.

#3: I’m not sure.

This one is tricky.  Often, I think we experience a particular kind of resistance when we intuitively know what we need or want to do — and then we go on to making ourselves nuts with “second-guessing.’

I see “I’m not sure” as more of a message from your thinking/reasoning/planning self who isn’t at all convinced that whatever your intuitive self just came up with is actually sound, savvy, or safe.

One translation of “I’m not sure” is, “You know what you need now?  Some more second-guessing!”

As I like to say, second-guessing, although totally harrowing, is a great clue that you just skipped over your “first guess”, which is your intuitive intelligence, your immediate inner knowing.

“Back it up, baby,” says your intuition, “and take a magnifying glass to whatever it is that you just skipped over, and there you will find what you ARE sure of.”

#4:  Hell, yes.

“Oh, yes, this one is SO right for you, but you are going to need to go through a little hell in order to get into it,” is the message coming to you, through resistance, from your intuition.

Meaning, whatever you’re sweating over and resisting the heck out of, is something that you truly need to be doing, but it’s also a test of sorts and you are going to need the kind of escape velocity a rocket needs to launch into space.  My friend Kate Niebauer, a wildly talented poet and artist, calls it “Le Grand Resistance.”  (Tres sexy, oui?)

This is the kind of (sexy) resistance, Kate likes to remind us, that will probably show up every time you put your pen to paper to write, your brush to the canvas to paint, your mouth to open to speak the truth.

I suppose some would call this a potential for self-sabotage.  I think of it more as an eyebrow-raise from your intuition, asking you, “To what are you devoted more, my love?  To your doubts or to your devotion?  Will you sell yourself out?  Will you sell yourself short?  Or will you sit with me here in the fire and blaze on?”

Your turn.  Come share with us what type of resistance you are most prone to, and if you have any new species of resistance to add to the pile!

Avec Le Grand Amour,

PS: Please for the love of all that is holy, read Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, by my friend in Taos, Mirabai Starr, a writer who brings me to my knees with the transcendent, visceral beauty of her words.  Her story will meet you in the places you are afraid to go and will walk you into the sacred sunshine of a life transformed.

I don’t get any kickbacks from this by the way, so you can trust it is simply an honest endorsement of a work of art I simply love.

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