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Resist Resistance!

Aug 31, 2022 06:53AM ● By Catherine Bongiorno
A man standing at a fork in the road trying to decide which way to go.


Change. Will there ever come a time when we don’t deeply resist it? Much change is out of our control and widely viewed as unpleasant (being laid off, developing an illness, losing a loved one). It is human nature to want to avoid such events, but what about change that we sense is for our greater good? Why do we attempt to avoid this as well? Is expanding out of our comfort zones really such a traumatic event?
The mind will argue back and forth with itself: Yes, change is difficult, but necessary to evolve and grow. No! Change is risky and we’re doing just fine in life as is. Yes, we must embrace going through a period of discomfort as our lives shift for the better. WRONG: We’d be wise to stay put, where we know what’s in store and don’t have to fret over the unknown.
Watching both adults and kids attempt to enter an active ocean is a fascinating example of resistance and how it so often does not serve. With much trepidation, adults will inch their way into the water, emanating fear and anxiety as the current poses a seemingly real threat. Seeing a wave approach, they frantically turn and run back toward the safety of the beach, never actually getting in and enjoying the water. Or they tiptoe in, only to panic and attempt to retreat as they see an approaching wave. Too late: The wave comes down on them and sends them somersaulting into shore. They struggle to clamber out, fighting the current with gusto, only to get pulled back in and tossed about once more. It’s quite a scene, but the grown-ups succeed in staggering out of the water to the safety of their palapas—likely with no intention of ever again braving the ocean.
Now turn attention to the children on the beach, taking on the very same waves that terrorize the adults—only these kids are not fighting or resisting the flow of the ocean. They whoop with delight as the water pulls them in, and laugh as it spews them back up the shore. They are unafraid, unhurt and are having the time of their lives. The exact situation that causes the adults to struggle, resist and feel fear brings these kids no harm—and more astoundingly, it fills them with great joy.
What an incredible lesson to be learned from this scenario. Keep in mind, this is not a suggestion to charge head first into the Caribbean Sea and let the water carry us away to kingdom come. Rather, it’s a suggestion that we work on facing inner resistance and fear that is so often unsubstantiated. Can we stop resisting what’s happening in life and instead dance with it? Can we quit negatively labeling everything that moves us out of our comfort zones? Could we learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable? As author Susan Jeffers suggests, can we feel the fear and do it anyway?
How to proceed? Baby steps are less intimidating than giant leaps. When we push out of our comfort zones by making small changes, we build confidence in our ability to handle major change.
What better place to start than with a health program? What if we got up off the couch and took a walk outside, no matter how deeply we want to stay holed up (i.e., safe)? Or skipped the boring treadmill routine and took a Zumba class; who cares if our dancing skills aren’t worth a hill of beans? Instead of the usual pedaling on a stationary bike, we could take a hike, working the body in a different way than we are used to. Perhaps challenge our anxiety of working out in front of others and get to the gym or a fitness class. More often than not, our fear is totally overblown, and when we keep giving in to it, we miss out on growth, adventure and endless possibility.
And when we do challenge our fear by making a scary but positive change, no matter how small, giving ourselves credit and showing gratitude is paramount. This, more than anything, will propel us to keep confronting resistance. After all, the opposite of fear isn’t courage or even bravery—it’s LOVE.


Catherine Bongiorno was a health and fitness columnist for The Everett Herald, in Seattle, WA, for more than four years. She moved to Sedona five years ago and owns Lift To Lose Fitness & Nutrition, where she offers private personal training, small-group training and weight-loss consulting in West Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek. Connect with her at 425-791-4488 or [email protected]. Also visit