By living a life of resistance, am I resisting life?

Contribution by Esteban Rojas Nieto, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

Don’t lock yourself up with your own suffering, or it may devour you from the inside.
Frida Kahlo

One possibly universal reaction to our experiences is that of feeling rejection towards our unpleasant feelings and emotions, such as anxiety, fear, loneliness, sadness, boredom etc.
Usually my reaction towards my unpleasant emotions, feelings and thoughts is to resist them in the form of denial, flight or a desire to change them. The paradox is that all of these experiences form part of me, so that it is not possible to remove them as if they were clothes that I do not like. Resisting emotions, feelings and thoughts that I dislike is an illogical and counterproductive reaction because it generates a greater feeling of malaise. As long as I resist these experiences I live in a state of strife and conflict with myself and in a state of hostility towards myself.

My resistance towards what I dislike is sustained by my perception of being separate from my emotions, feelings and thoughts: I feel that I “have emotions”, I “have feelings”, I “have thoughts”, that is, I feel that I am separate from these experiences and therefore it makes sense to try and act on them, change them, eliminate them, etc. However, this perception of separation is no more than an illusion. An “I” does not exist that is separate from my sadness: I am the sadness and the sadness is all there is. It is my thoughts that separate me from it, label it and say, ”I do not want to feel like this”. It is my thoughts that generate my illusion of separateness.

When I understand deep down, that I am not separate from my experiences I cease to resist them and I live in a state of unconditional openness to them.

My resistance creates a whole range of emotions (e.g. rage, bitterness, envy, hate, etc.) and of behaviour (aggression, violence, defence of my ideas etc.) that have a profound effect on my relationships with others.

Therefore it is my responsibility to take control of my resistance and the reactions it produces, as they have the potential to be very destructive for other people.

My attitude of resistance or denial of my feelings or emotions (e.g. “How incredibly boring!”, “I’m not planning on going back to the dentist’s!”, “I can’t stand this loneliness!”) can cause me considerable tension and malaise.

When I cease to resist and I am receptive, the tension is released as well as the malaise caused by my resistance, and I feel peace and tranquillity.

Part of the negative feelings and emotions that we experience are natural and inevitable reactions to the circumstances that trigger them.

For example, if a loved one dies, I will feel a profound sense of pain; if someone threatens to kill me, I will be afraid, if someone suddenly hits me in the street, I will feel angry. However, another part of our negative feelings and emotions are not natural and inevitable but the result of reactions that we have learnt throughout our lives. For example, when a loved one dies I want him to come back, so that I will cease to experience the pain I feel; this attitude will cause me tension and anguish which will add to the natural pain of grief giving the impression that all the emotions are the inevitable result of one and the same cause (that is the death of the loved one).

However, there is not one cause but two: the death of the loved one and my resistance to the situation.