Are you tired of forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do?

Imagine you’re sitting at the kitchen table, trying to motivate yourself to put on your workout clothes, unroll your mat, and do a yoga class on Youtube. It’s been a couple of weeks since your last workout and you’ve been feeling pretty low-energy.

You know a good class would leave your body, mind, and spirit feeling so much better. It always has in the past. But lately, you just can’t seem to make yourself do it.

Instead, you pick up your phone and glance at what’s popped up in your Facebook feed since the last time you looked a couple of hours ago. A friend’s vacation pics, a tricky conundrum in a professional group you belong to, your cousin’s latest funny cat video….

Twenty minutes later, you look up and realize you don’t have enough time any more for the yoga class before you need to head out to your next thing. You chastise yourself for getting sucked down the social media rabbit hole and promise yourself that you’ll definitely, definitely get on the yoga mat tomorrow.

But tomorrow comes and goes, and you still can’t seem to force yourself to do the class. You’re getting really frustrated with yourself. You ask yourself, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just freaking do it?”

Trying to force it

So many people try to force themselves to do things they think would be good for them, whether it’s that yoga class or something else they think would be a healthy choice for them.

Sometimes a little forcing it works just fine. You can push through a little resistance, and you really do feel better afterwards.

But if the forcing isn’t working, and you still can’t seem to do the thing you intend to do, maybe it’s time to get curious about the resistance you’re experiencing, and show it some love and respect. Befriend it, even.

Your resistance is a message from your soul

I had a client recently who was in a similar situation. (I’ve changed some details to protect their privacy.) They showed up wanting to figure out how they could motivate themselves to recommit to a daily meditation practice they had loved in the past. Lately they just couldn’t seem to do it—they just didn’t feel like it at all.

In my experience, that deep “I don’t want to!” kind of resistance is actually a message from our souls that we ignore at our peril. If you insist on pushing past it, you’re actually doing violence to your soul and its wisdom.

Instead, the client and I started to explore what that “not feeling like it” was like. Feeling into that inner resistance to meditating, the client discovered that it felt blah and gray, like there was no life there.

Then we moved into exploring how they would know if they did feel like it—what would that be like? My client said, it would feel sunny, light, sort of bubbly….

A fresh possibility

Then the client said, “You know, it might be fun to try working with oracle cards. I’ve got this deck someone gave me and I’ve never used it, but I noticed it on my bookshelf the other day and I’ve been thinking about it on and off ever since.”

So we explored what it might be like for them to work with these oracle cards. It felt light, happy, full of possibility….

And they decided, maybe it would be okay if they just stopped trying to meditate, at least for now, and let themselves play with the oracle cards and see what happened.

The next time we talked, they reported that they were having a wonderful time! The blah, gray resistance they’d felt was gone; now they’d been looking forward to their spiritual practice time each day. They felt more alive spiritually than they had in a long time.

Letting your resistance guide you toward joy

So the next time you’re trying to force yourself to get onto the yoga mat, or whatever your equivalent is, why not try pausing and getting curious about your resistance instead?

What does your resistance feel like?

Does it have a color, a shape? Where do you feel it in your body?

Does it have a message for you? Maybe there’s something it would like you to do instead. Like going out dancing, maybe. Or playing a soccer game. Or taking a walk, or a nap.

If you get curious and really listen, your resistance might just point the way to a beautiful new possibility for you. Why not try it out and see what happens when you let your soul’s voice guide you? 

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