Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BlissObstacles: Shining Light on Resistance

Analiese Marie is a twenty-something writer, blogger, and yogini who lives and works (as a grant writer for an art museum) in the DC area. Armed with a Cultural Anthropology degree and a penchant for all things colorful and sparkly, Analiese is an intrepid and joyful explorer of human culture, with a particular interest in how people can live more creative, expressive, and adventurous lives. In addition to yoga and writing, Analiese is passionate about art of all kinds, good food (preferably local), good wine (preferably red), spending time outdoors, good books, and bubble baths. You can read more of her writing on her blog Tulips and Tea and you can find her on Twitter here.

I joyfully welcome Analiese and her enthusiasm today to Blisschick, as she answers our December question:

What is the main difficulty you have encountered in trying to craft a life of bliss? What have you tried to do about this?

The main difficulty I've encountered in trying to craft a life of bliss is overcoming my resistance to breaking the rules.

In The Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz writes about how we are conditioned to have certain beliefs and live our lives a certain way, according to society's "rules." You didn't consciously agree to these rules, but they are imprinted in your mind at very early age. Everything is subject to these rules: how you should look, how you should act, what is considered an "acceptable" career path, the "appropriate" way to express yourself, and so on. These beliefs are so deeply ingrained in your mind that you often don't consciously recognize that you could choose a alternative path. Instead, you beat yourself up for not conforming to society's expectations and vow to do better.

But somewhere along the way, if you're lucky, you have an awakening of sorts. Sometimes you can trace your awakening to a single distilled moment in time and sometimes it's a gradual process. You realize that there's more to life than following the rules. You realize that the rules are, in fact, an illusion.

You realize that your bliss is out there, waiting for you.

However, for a lot of people, pursuing our authentic bliss would require breaking all kinds of rules. And to clarify, when I talk about "breaking all kinds of rules," I don't mean engaging in reckless and/or dangerous behavior. I mean making mindful and authentic choices that might diverge from the norm but ultimately bring you closer to your bliss. Following your bliss might require you to dramatically re-arrange your priorities or even change your whole way of being. It might require you to make choices that other people don't understand. So you resist. It would be too difficult, you tell yourself. What would people think? How would my friends (or parents or partner) react? It would be too messy, too complicated, too time-consuming, too expensive, too whatever.

The great irony is that we are extremely creative in finding reasons to avoid pursuing our bliss!

This internal resistance can be incredibly hard to overcome. I struggle with it on a daily basis as I continue on my path toward bliss (which, for me, means honoring my creative talents and infusing creativity into my everyday life). I've found that the best way to overcome this resistance is to confront it directly.

When I feel my resistance cropping up, I call it out. Hey you! Resistance! Yes, I'm talking to you! I see you over there in the corner of my mind, and I've got some questions for you!

For example, you might ask yourself:

"What am I resisting?"
Making time for creative projects.
"What so-called rule is at the root of my resistance?"
I shouldn't make time for creative projects because I have too many other things on my to-do list.
"What would happen if I broke that rule?"
I might become deeply absorbed in the project and forget my to-do list altogether.
"Is there another way I might look at the situation?" (Play devil's advocate with yourself here.)
Well...I might create something wonderful. Getting into a creative groove might even help me think of a new and innovative way to approach something else on my to-do list. I'll probably still accomplish the other items on my to-do list, and if I don't, it won't be the end of the world.

A really powerful exercise is to make a list of 10 (or more!) blissful things you are resisting, and then, for each item on your list, answer the questions above, either saying your responses out loud or writing them down in a journal. I promise that, by the time you're done, you'll feel a new sense of empowerment, and you'll be itching to do some mindful rule-breaking! You may end up deciding that now really isn't the right time to do whatever it is, but the decision will be based on a thoughtful exploration of your options instead of fearful resistance.

Bringing your resistance into the light will enable you to keep it in perspective and empower you to make follow your bliss. If you follow your bliss, you can't help but be extraordinary. And that, my friends, is the truest rule I know.


Emma said...

Shining a light on things can be so important! Thank you!

jelly said...

thank you for sharing!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Excellent post and so very true! The only other thing I would add is that sometimes Rules are stupid and harmful and NEED to be broken! The trick is in knowing which ones.

Christine Claire Reed said...

I thought this piece by Analiese was exceptional. And I loved the info from the 4 agreements, which I have not read and now want to! :)

Debra -- Yep. I think that was the essence of Analiese's point -- that often these rules are just that, stupid. And even more often, rules DO need to be broken.

JFKlaver said...

Powerful stuff. I need to reread Ruiz!

Grace said...

Reading this I'm thing "yes, yes!" and then somewhere else in my mind I'm thinking "Easier said than done." It's those darn rules again. We are conditioned, as you say.

Grace said...

I meant to type "Reading this I'm THINKING "yes, yes!" :)

Sallie Ann said...

this is a great post, and The Four Agreements really does "shift" the way you see things. Such a powerful book, and this post really applies many of his concepts. Love it!

AnalieseMarie said...

Thanks everyone, for your positive feedback. I highly recommend Ruiz's works. They have definitely had a major impact on the way I live my life, and how I approach my journey toward bliss. In addition to The Four Agreements, I also like his books The Mastery of Love and Beyond Fear.