Thursday, May 28, 2009

BlissQuest: Why Do We Resist Our Bliss?

Resistance is a topic that Marcy and I have been discussing since we met, but we have been especially concentrating on it as of late.

There are five of us in our writing group, as I have said before, and out of those five people, Marcy is probably the only one who is not blocked in some way. She creates freely and easily, thanks, we think, to habits of self-motivation developed very early on. We have also decided that she has no need of external validation; she derives her joy from the process and is not dependent upon any outcome.

She is, briefly stated, a minor miracle and a rarity: an open conduit for any and all creativity that wants to pass through her.

The rest of us in the writing group? Not so much.

We resist the very thing that we say we love: writing.

Everyday, I blog, sure, but I don't do the thing that I say I most want to be doing: work on writing books. I will, a day here and there, work on editing my novel or make notes for nonfiction projects.

And obviously, I am capable of doing this: I finished a five hundred page novel, for goodness sake, but I know that it took too long because of resistance, because of too many days spent not writing.

I have files and files and files of other novel and book ideas. The muse is very good to me, and how do I repay her? By not writing!

I walk past my new apple green desk and cast my eyes downward, ashamed at not sitting my butt in the chair and staring at the wall and getting down to business. (There is a lot of staring involved in writing.)

I have a pretty constant dialogue in my head about how I should be writing...and then I find some laundry to do or some blog-related work or...well...anything else.

The really awful thing? When I do write, I feel so connected, so amazing, so fulfilled, so...happy.

Though I may be writing about writing in this post, it is really about resisting your greatest desire -- or what you say is your greatest desire -- it is about resisting your bliss, whatever form that takes.

(This question about resisting our bliss came to me via Skribit and remember you can ask that blisschick covers any topic you like!).

Let me be candid: I have no answer.

It's a question I have been asking for much of my life. Why do humans resist the very things that make them happy? Why do I skip yoga -- ever? Why do I eat things that I know do not make me feel wonderful? Why do I not spend every waking moment making up stories when I know it makes me feel so alive?

Here are some questions for you:

What do you resist?

What do you tell yourself when you are in the act of resisting?

When you resist, what do you replace your blissful activity with? What are making your top priorities? Are your top priorities anywhere near your bliss?

How do you feel about yourself at the end of the day when you have resisted your bliss?

What stories are you constructing around your resistance?

The most important question of all: What purpose is your resistance serving? What are you getting out of this?

I want to hear from you. I will write about this more, but first, I want to hear what other people have to say about this. I want to hear your Resistance Stories.


positively present said...

Great questions here! I'm going to need some time to think about them... I think, in general, we resist being blissful for a variety of reasons. Maybe we think we don't deserve it. Or we're too anxious about something bad happening in the future and we can't be blissful in the moment. Maybe we were raised to believe that unhappiness was the norm or taught that being blissful was stupid. Whatever the reasons, we have to let go of them and embrace being blissful!!

differenceayearmakes said...

I really do think we fear our greatness. As long as it remains potential greatness - well, there's still potential.

And we've been taught to fear - we've been taught to limit ourselves - most likely by those who love us, our parents, influencial others, even society in general. They taught us to believe in, beware of, limits. Even if they didn't call it that. Even if they had the best of intentions, to keep us from getting hurt - or so they thought. The damage is done.

Add in a dollop of too many choices, a dash of lazyness and a smidge of rebelliousness and you have quite a cocktail.

Oh my do I have resistance stories!! I'll post about one, or two for you this week.

But I'm getting closer - just a wee bit closer to living my bliss these days. One of those battles worth fighting.

Jacqui More said...

wow did I need to read this today... thank you

Lauren said...

I think I fear success. I think, for whatever reason, I strongly dislike when attention is put on me, so I avoid it. I've resisted eating well, getting to my goal weight (so close and yet so far!), trying out a writing career and doing a yoga teacher training. I also often resist exercise or a yoga class even though I KNOW I'd feel so much better if I did it. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. I've really been working on this the past year or so, so thank you for posting about! It jogged lots of thoughts for later writing.

Tess said...

Do you remember one underlying premise of The Matrix? That the first virtual world created for humans to live in was rejected because it was too happy? We couldn't believe in it. (Of course we were right, but that's not the point I'm trying to make...)

I'm going with differenceayearmakes. It's fear. Fear that we might try and fail.

I consistently undermine myself by creating minor crises. For example paperwork that isn't dealt with blows up into urgent bills that have to be paid etc. Then of course no time to write or create art because the crisis needs sorting.

Still working on the strategies. But what helps me when I can do it is:

Write down each evening what you're going to to the next day. Include both something you're dreading and something creative (might be the same thing!!). Don't write a great long "to do" list. Just two or three items. Deal with the chores in a set time period - use a timer. Do them first, get them out of the way.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about this since I woke up this morning, so I'm really not surprised this post was for today. Thank you for the questions - it makes me think about my situation in a different light.

What purpose does my resistance serve? Keeping someone else happy. If I took action, I would be liberating myself - scary - and upsetting someone who says they need me. I would feel guilty for being free, for not being what that person needs, for following my own desires and my own bliss.

Essentially, my resistance and a fear of his resistance keep me locked in a 'maybe this is good enough, I know this isn't good enough' thought pattern.


Know what's crazy? I'm scared to even submit this, because I'm pretty much saying I know what to do and haven't been able to do it. It would be easy to read this and be like, Just do it, girl! And yet, I haven't. But this morning I did pray for strength, clarity and courage.

Thanks for this post Christine.


Bohemian Single Mom said...

I so needed to read this today. Thank you.
It's funny because I just posted a sort of relevant post on my blog.

Have I told you that you rock?

Rowena said...

Oh dear oh dear do I know this topic. Not only as an artist, but as a teacher in the innercity when much of my job was trying to break through my student's resistance to whatever it happened to be at the moment.

First of all... we give too much attention to being blocked. With all that energy placed to blockages, we could be writing. Stop talking about how we can't write, and instead, start planning how we could take our next step.

Also... I think we sometimes don't honor the fallow periods that are necessary for reaching our goals. We can't gogogo all the time and we feel guilt when we slow down. There is no need for guilt. Every writer stares out the window at the passing clouds instead of writing. It is part of the process. As is having periods of not writing. If we accept that we are normal in our process, and we don't have to beat ourselves up for not writing, then it is easier to move past the not writing stage, instead of getting stuck in it.

I have a daring challenge for you and anyone looking to dive into their creativity. On June first I am going to start doing a painting a day, and inviting others to come along with any creative product they would like.

For you, I might suggest a page of writing a day. Or 100 pages in 100 days. It's really not that much writing when you get down to it, and you can upgrade your page count if you want, but it might help you get back into your habit of writing... and that's really what gets us past the blockages. The pure, stubborn, addictive habit of our bliss.

here's my post where I committed to the challenge

hmmbrd said...

"I guess I showed me!" This is what i wonder if i'm saying to myself when i shy away from the richness and joy of focusing on my art. Fear does indeed come into it. the FEELING of fear, inadequacy, sillyness. I notice as i have been meditating, that i am able to accept more of my feelings, making space for them without freaking out, or practicing aversion.
This has helped, however i still reach for the crossword puzzle rather than going to the easel. short holiday from feeling i guess.

Ash said...

Like another poster said, I think many of us fear success and fear all that we can do. We are capable of so many things, but it's letting ourselves do them and truly achieve bliss in that way.

I think it also has to do with motivation and motivation tends to run in a circle. When we have an idea or an impulse we grow excited about it and gather information and become very passionate about it. For awhile nothing can stand in our way of this thing.

Soon the motivation fades and the motivation starts to waver a bit and then suddenly it's gone and I think that is often when we face resistance! It's getting back to that motivated, enthusiastic, excited place. How do we do that?

Like another poster said, setting a goal is a great tool. It can help to re-energize you. Or just go back and remind yourself of what it was like way back in the beginning, when you were originally motivated and not resisting.

Lately I've been resisting yoga. I was on a roll for about 6 weeks, practicing almost every day and I was feeling amazing as a result. I need to go back and remind myself of why I loved to do it and get on it!!

Back when I was losing weight I resisted change - that was incredibly tough. I "felt comfortable the way I was" and changing my habits and eating and exercise was really hard. Once I started to see results and really realize the health benefits of losing weight I put more and more of myself into it and eventually reached my goal.

Amazing post, as always

Diane said...

For me, it's a feeling that I always have to be busy doing something more valuable than my writing or meditation or whatever brings me bliss. Growing up, I was taught that fun and relaxation didn't come until all the work was done. But, of course, all the work is NEVER done. I struggle to give myself permission to take the time for enjoyable, beneficial pursuits instead of feeling I must do so-called productive work all the time.

You have helped me in that regard, Christine, with your 100 day challenge. I have been meditating consistently since you started the challenge, partly just to see if I can do it for that long. I want to be able to report, at the end, that I reached that personal goal. And I'm hoping a side benefit (or maybe the main benefit!) will be that, by then, meditation will just be part of my routine.

My next block to overcome is resistance to serious journaling every day or at least on a regular basis. But I'm working on that, too. Thanks for a very honest post with a lot to consider.

Yval├║ said...

I´m an expert on that topic! I resist my bliss sooo many times...
Answering your questiosn I´d say that when I´m avoiding doing something that nurtures my soul and makes me happy I feel embarrased and beat myself mentally, sometimes I try to convince myself I´ll do it better next time, be more organized,and so, but it doesn´t work very much at solving the procrastination issue.
If I pospone doing some cleaning or laundry I don´t feel so bad, after all, there´s always time for doing it and it becomes necesary at some point to attend those cores, but, whenever I avoid my bliss I have a sneaky feeling of betraying and sabotaging myself and it makes me sad.
I´ve noticed I´m afraid of fully listening and express my voice, so I think I choose to kindda deceive myself absorbing (by reading, watching and celebrating) the expression of others as a way to full my profound need to express myself in writing and painting and journaling instead of actually doing it myself, because this is a way of preventing me for making the necessary mistakes to learn something new and to, maybe discover, I´m not as good as I thought I could be.
I think it all comes down to it: Fear, at least in my personal experience.
Thanks for opening the door to such trascendental questions.

lucy said...

really, christine, i'd like you to just go ahead and answer those questions, because i have a feeling they will be much the same as mine and then i can avoid writing them out myself :-)

Anonymous said...

Great post, and some wonderful insights in the comments. I've always had problems with self-defeatism. I'd do something well up to a point and then do something (or not do something) that screwed it up. So I had to take a look back at when I think this pattern started, and saw that it began when I was being bullied as a child. It's the whole "I don't deserve it" thing. I also found myself in a position of caregiver when I was really young, so there was an emphasis on other's needs and not my own.

I've found the affirmation:
"I release all resistance" to be of help, but I also discovered that I need to say it often every day or I fall back on the old pattern.

Lil said...

Christine, I love these questions! But someone(s) inside of me doesn't, they are cringing with the thought of having to answer them...

So I don't know. But everytime, like you, that I do something for my bliss, it rocks and I can't remember the excuses I put in the first place not to do it. SOmedays my gremlins win. Occassionally they don't.

I want more "somedays" so I best stop resisting, oh to have the key to my inner answers...


svasti said...

Been meaning to comment on this one for a while now!

Yes, I know ALL about resisting and/or punishing myself from holding back on the things I love.

Exercise, yoga, writing, or just wandering by the bay. Oh yes, I can make my own life more miserable than anyone else!

The worst thing is, one part of my mind is telling myself - hey, we should do X right now! While the other part shuffles sideways and whistles loudly til the suggestions have stopped. Annoying!

I've been getting real about my home yoga practice - clearing the clutter out of that room where I practice. Making it homier, more confortable so I enjoy going in there more.

And I take concious notice of how I feel when I have done something I love, versus when I hold out on myself. Slowly, I think the positive-let's-enjoy-life part is winning.

I don't know why I do it either. I'm envious of those who don't have this problem. Who'll regularly go to bed early in order to get up at 5am to do their yoga and meditation. These are things I love, but which I'll skip because I'm too interested in staying up late.

I just read one of Marcy's recent posts where she talks about how you 'can't do everything'. And I think that's true for us all.

Do less. But make sure you're cutting out that useless television watching or that extra hour surfing the internet. And purposely do those things that make you shine. :)