What You Resist Persists
Have you ever tried not thinking of pink elephants?
It’s the oldest kid joke in the book. Why is it even funny? Well of course, because you can’t not think of something. Our brains just don’t work that way.
There are ways around this, of course. The easiest way to not think of a pink elephant is to choose to think of (for example) a blue elephant. Or a pink swan. Essentially, fill our head with something other than the thing we’re avoiding.
In general though, whether we’re thinking of something, or thinking of not something, the picture of that thing is still present in our head.
Why is this a problem?
To quote Carl Jung: What you resist persists.
When we focus on something, we create it our lives. As Mike Dooley puts it, “thoughts become things.”
Ever notice how people who like to bitch about things always have no trouble at all finding things to complain about? Their lives are mysteriously full of awful events.
Happy people somehow have lives mostly full of things worth celebrating.
This may look a little circular, but it’s no accident.
Ancient mystics described it thusly: “As within, so without” (and “and as above, so below”).
Whatever is happening inside us echoes out into the universe and is reflected in our lives.
This is similar to how Australian Aboriginal traditions believed that dreams were real, and day-to-day “reality” merely the reflection of those dreams.
If you’ve done any kind of spiritual self-work, then you will have seen this in action. No doubt everything above is already blindingly obvious to you.
So where do the elephants come in?
Because it doesn’t matter whether we’re thinking about something we like, or something we don’t like – we’ll still be creating it in our lives.
Even if you don’t believe that this happens – by thinking about something you’re drawing your attention to it – so it’ll feel like more of it is occurring in your life.
When you buy a new red Audi, suddenly you see all the other red Audis on the road. Just got a bob haircut? The supermarket will be full of them.
Whatever your attention is on, you’ll see more of.
So, if you’re hating something? In a perverse kind of way, you’re going to be creating (or at the very least noticing) more of it in your life.
Which, of course, you’ll also hate.
You can see how quickly this spirals downward.
If slow people walking in front of you annoys you, you can be damn sure you’ll notice it every time it happens.
If advertising drives you crazy, you’ll see how much we’re saturated in it.
Thus, we end up more annoyed, feeling less in control, and thus focusing even more on the very thing we’re trying to avoid.
There’s another layer going on here. I believe we’re here on earth to learn. To grow as individuals.
When you hold strong negative feelings about something, the universe very helpfully brings that thing back to us, over and over, until we learn to let go of those feelings. We’re all on an upward journey to enlightenment. Aka, learning to give less of a shit about the little things. Learning to chill the hell out.
If you have the same shitty relationships over and over again? It’s because you still haven’t learned what you’ve needed to learn (even if that’s just how to spot the warning signs of oncoming lunacy). All the talk I do about healing on this blog is really just because it’s by a wide margin the most complete and efficient method of learning that I’ve discovered so far.
How do we break our vicious downward spirals? Very simple, really. Let go of our inner resistance. Let go of the frustration around slow people. Let go of the resistance to advertising. I’ve talked about this before, with regard to judgement (just another form of resistance) and anger.
The more we are able to let go of these non-loving emotions, the better.
Ideally, you want to get to the point where you feel genuinely loving (or at the very least peaceful) about whatever it was that previously was bugging you so much.
When you’re genuinely peaceful then even if something does occur, it won’t bother you in the slightest. And voila, it’ll fade from your awareness.
On a deeper energetic level you’ll also stop drawing these experiences into your existence (ie manifesting them) – but that’s a whole other conversation.
Now, we can always wait until we’re feeling annoyed by something, but it’s much quicker to proactively go after this stuff.
So, try sitting down and simply asking “Who or what am I resisting?”
Typically you’ll be amazed at what pops into your head (if you’re quiet, and listening). Once you get better at it of course, you’ll be able to do it while on the bus, walking down the road, or bored at work.
The more you ask the question and then let go of all the energy (emotion) you feel around each thing, the more peaceful you’ll become. And, best of all, the less you’ll be creating (and then upset by) these things in your existence.
The more peaceful and loving you are about elephants, pink or otherwise, the less they’ll be in your awareness and the less they’ll be in your life.
Whatever you resist persists. Whatever you stop resisting stops persisting.