Clarity From Resistance

Why bother with clarity at all? Why focus on goals and directions? Isn’t this a form of attachment? Why not adopt a more flexible and open attitude towards life? Why not just allow all things to be possible in each moment and leave it at that?

If you question the value of clarity, goals, or consciously chosen directions, I encourage you to try doing the opposite for a while and see how that plays out. Relax into the current flow of life. Don’t worry about setting goals. Don’t worry about choosing a direction. Just relax and live. Let the universe handle the details.

This is a perfectly valid mode of living. Some people spend a lot of time living this way, and many seem to get along just fine.

The key to experiencing this mode of living is surrender. Can you surrender to whatever life brings you? Can you allow everything that arises to just be there, and let it be just as it is? If you can surrender, then you’ll experience a form of clarity that comes from surrender. Call it contentment. You’ll perceive that everything is fine just the way it is, and you won’t feel a strong desire for your circumstances to be any different than they are. You’ll be content.

What happens when you don’t feel good about surrendering to what’s arising right now? What if you feel some resistance to some aspect of your present situation? What if you’re a little dissatisfied? Or a lot dissatisfied? What if you’d rather be someplace else, having some other kind of experience? What if the present doesn’t feel quite good enough?

Suppose you spend a lot of time entertaining yourself. You watch movies. You chat with friends online. You play games. For a while you may be fine with that, but eventually you may begin to feel some resistance to continuing in the same manner week after week. You may start feeling annoyed with these habits. Your present situation may begin to lose its joy. You may feel that it’s time to shift to some other mode of living, and you may not even be sure what that looks like.

This is when the desire for clarity arises. The present feels misaligned, and you sense that it’s time to move on to something else. When the present feels perfectly aligned, you already have clarity in the form of contentment, so you don’t desire anything more.

The desire for clarity is born of resistance. It’s your dissatisfaction with your present reality that makes you desire clarity – clarity for a new direction, new results, a new mode of living.

Can you connect the dots between your own desire for clarity and some feelings of resistance to your present circumstances? Can you see how your own resistance is fueling your desire to get clear about a new direction, destination, or mode of living? More generally, can you see how goals are born of resistance too?

Consider the saying, Necessity is the mother of invention. Need inspires creativity. Resistance inspires clarity.

I’d like to suggest an interesting twist here. I invite you to stop resisting your own resistance. Notice that your resistance is nudging you away from your present situation and encouraging you to pick a different path. Your resistance is the seed – the need – that inspires movement in a new direction.

It’s common to resist the resistance itself – to attempt to drown out your feelings of discomfort, dissatisfaction, or disappointment with your present reality. But resisting your own resistance actually keeps you stuck because you aren’t allowing your dissatisfaction to fully coil up like a spring that can propel you in a new direction. When feelings of resistance come up, let yourself feel those feelings. Let yourself feel sad. Let yourself feel angry. Let yourself feel frustrated. Let that spring coil up nice and tight.

Trust that your feelings of resistance serve a powerful purpose. Trust that they’ll help guide you down a new path. Trust that they’re necessary – that they’re the necessity – for serving as your mother of invention.

You’ll usually gain clarity much faster if you stop resisting your resistance. Stop trying to drown it out with distractions. Let yourself feel what you’re feeling. Dialog with it. Journal about it. Delve into it. Coil it up. Invite your resistance to point you towards a new level of clarity.

To progress even faster, see if you can actually appreciate those same feelings of resistance. Appreciate the disappointment. Appreciate the discomfort. Appreciate the sadness. Notice those feelings, and thank them for helping to point you in the direction of something better.

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Read Clarity From Resistance by Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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