Understanding Resistance

By Leo Gura - June 22, 2013 | 14 Comments

Resistance is making you miserable and robbing you of all your potential. Learn how to completely eliminate resistance and procrastination.


In the field of electronics, resistance is the property of a material to oppose a flow of current, turning it into heat. In your life, resistance is the same thing, except the material is your mind and the current is the flow of thoughts.

Resistance has a very negative affect on your life, creating procrastination, self-sabotage, frustration, and guilt. Resistance is the feeling you get when you struggle to do the things you should be doing: “Oh man! Do I have to do this?”

Resistance can ruin your life by turning everything into a struggle. Reality-check, if you live in a first-world country, your life is easy. If your life feels like a struggle, chances are YOU are the cause. If you’re “Shoulding” and “Musting” yourself all the time, like so many of us do, then you are creating friction between you and your goals.

Life should flow. Life should be great when you’re doing what you want to do. But, insidiously, we tend to resist the things we want most, whether it’s getting that awesome promotion, writing that dream novel, moving to a new city, or starting a diet.

The good news is that you can eliminate this needless suffering and self-sabotage. By the end of this article you will know all of all the tricky ways in which resistance works and I will give you several effective techniques for stopping resistance dead in its tracks!

Acquainting Yourself with Resistance

Resistance is generated whenever you create imperatives for yourself — things that MUST be done. Every time you tell yourself that doing something is of critical importance, some part of your mind resents having to do it. Like a rebellious kid acting against his parents merely to be contrarian, your mind hates to be told what to do.

Resistance can apply to something as simple as washing the dishes or as ambitious as writing a novel. Let’s take a look at some common examples:

  • Not wanting to do the dishes
  • Not wanting to do your homework
  • Not wanting to go to the gym
  • Not wanting to have that “talk” with you partner
  • Not wanting to read a book
  • Not wanting to do visualization exercises
  • Not wanting to meditate
  • Not wanting to examine a negative habit
  • Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning
  • Not wanting to write that important report for work
  • Not wanting to do your taxes

It’s easy to identify resistance. When you have it you go to great lengths to avoid action — any reason will do. In fact, the more creative the better! This is the magical art-form of procrastination — where we bend ourselves backward to avoid doing the things we really ought to want to do:

  • I’ll write the business plan… But I should really organize my desk first.
  • I’ll start my homework… Right after this next segment of cartoons.
  • I’ll go to the gym… Tomorrow for sure! I swear!
  • I’ll do my taxes right now… Oh wait! The stapler is empty. I need to buy staples right now.
  • I’ll finish reading that book… But look! My fingernails are kinda long. I should clip them.
  • I’ll call my Mom… But I wonder if anyone replied to my witty Facebook post. I better check now.
  • I’ll do some journaling, it’s so great… Oh, I forgot, I have a bunch of dirty laundry to clean.
  • I’ll call the doctor for the test results… Tomorrow. Mondays aren’t my lucky days.
  • I’ll think of a great gift… Next week. After all, it’s two weeks till Christmas.
  • I’ll tell my boss how I really feel today… Actually, next week would be better. He’s so busy today.

Sound familiar? Perhaps intimately familiar? Which parts of your life are you resisting? What is that resistance holding you back from? Is it holding you back from being the awesome self you know you can be?

Digging Into Resistance

There is an interesting interplay between doing right action and avoiding it.

The problem with avoidance and excuses is the same as the problem with eating a cookie — one is never enough. Soon, before you realize it, one excuse leads to another, and another, and other, until you’ve developed a pattern.

Resistance really becomes a problem when you turn it into a habit. Then it becomes a thorn in your side, jabbing again and again. Your higher self wants you to do one thing, but your lower self creates sabotage, and the guilt keeps piling up and up because you know what the right action is.

The Much-Dreaded Gym

Picking on wannabe gym-goers — especially come January 1st — is all too easy. If you’re a regular, you can’t help chuckle and sigh when you see the seasonal stampede of out-of-shape over-eaters, full of New Year’s resolution vim. You sigh because you know you’ll never see any one of them again in two weeks.

The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character.

— Arnold Schwarzenegger

But even the most ardent gym-goer has been on the opposite side of the fence. The fact is that going to the gym consistently is very challenging. I’ve been doing it for 7 years and I still have very tough weeks where I come up with every excuse in the book not to go.

Here’s how it tends to play out:

You start going to the gym. You really try. Wow! The effort is paying off. You’re doing great! You can’t believe the new you. You’re totally killing it.

2 months in you start to get a little bored with your cardio routine. “Man, this treadmill is easy enough, but I just keep wishing it would be over sooner.”

The next day you take the day off. Your mind says, “I probably shouldn’t take this day off, but I deserve a break once in a while, right? I’ve been good for the last 2 months. One day won’t hurt.”

The following day your mind says, “Oh man, that ‘rest-day’ felt sooooo good! In fact, I feel stronger today! Wow! I’m awesome and eager to do some jogging… But you know, one more rest-day would be nice. Two days off won’t kill me.” And so you take the second day off.

On the third day your mind says, “Okay, I’m well rested. I really need to hit the gym. I’ve been doing so good these last 2 months. There’s no way I’m losing these gains. In fact, I’ll go even harder!”

Then your favorite TV show comes on and you say, “Oh man, I really want to see this one. But… I MUST go to the gym!!! Okay, I’m going. No, I’m watching the show. No, I’m going. No, I’m watching the show! No, I’m going to the gym… this is stupid! Going to the gym shouldn’t be this much work. This isn’t natural. I’m staying in today and watching the show!”

On the fourth day your mind doesn’t even want to think about the gym. Part of you — the part that’s now been beaten into defeat — is saying you “HAVE TO GO”, and the other part — the part that’s winning out — is saying “SCREW THAT!”

From this point on, any time you even think about the gym you feel heavy resistance. Your resistance palpable! It feels like an electrical current straining to move through a rusty wire. It’s a feeling of, “Sigh… Oh man… Not this again. Why can’t it be different?” Resistance leaves you feeling victimized, powerless, defeated, and guilty.

The Ultimate Technique for Releasing Resistance

If you’re tired of feeling resistant, the best way to free yourself — that I’ve found — is with the Sedona Method.

The Sedona Method is a simple inner game technique for releasing any kind of emotion, from fear to anger. But what we care about today is how it works for resistance!

Sedona is deceptively simple and yet amazing powerful. Many people have reported major improvements in their lives with consistent application of Sedona. Today I want to show you how to use Sedona to release resistance. The full Sedona Method is outside the scope of this article and will be covered separately because it’s such an important topic.

Sedona tells us that resistance is a feeling created whenever we force ourselves to do anything. Resistance feels like pressing the gas and brake pedals on your car at the same time. Since it’s just a feeling, Sedona also tells us that resistance can be released. Counter-intuitively, the way out of resistance is to accept it.

Process for releasing resistance:

  1. Conjure up the feeling of resistance. Feel it. Let it flood your body and mind.
  2. Ask yourself, “Could I let go of this feeling?”
  3. Ask yourself, “Would I like to let go of it?”
  4. Ask yourself, “When can I let it go?”
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 at least four times until the feeling disappears.

Sounds silly and simplistic, doesn’t it? I know. It sounded silly to me too. But after playing around with it for a while I’ve seen some powerful changes from Sedona. The dirty little trick is that you actually have to use it! Go figure.

Using Sedona to Release Resistance

As simple as it is, there are a few key nuances for properly using Sedona. If you don’t get these right then you’ll never see its potential.

Step 1:

The first key step in the method is to actually feel the feeling. Sounds obvious, but there is a big difference between actually feeling a feeling, and merely thinking about it.

Remember that time in school when you had to stand up in front of the whole class and deliver a speech? Recall how anxious you felt. Now actually relive that feeling. Imagine you have to give a speech in front of 30 people right now. The teacher just called you up in front of the class. Feel it in your body. Feel the dread and nervousness. That’s it! Now you’re really feeling it.

Step 2:

Ask yourself, “Could I let go of this feeling?”

You are going to ask yourself this question silently, in your inner voice. You will respond with a “Yes” or “No” answer (either is acceptable). Before responding, however, really consider what this question is asking you: “If you really wanted to — if I was holding a gun to your head — could you let this feeling go? And what would that feel like?”

Imagine what it would feel like to let go. I like to play a movie in my mind where a Zen-Buddhist monk, a classical Greek Stoic, or a Master Jedi, just lets the feeling go. And I try to feel what he would feel.

As you do this exercise you might be tempted to say, “No, I can’t let it go!” This will happen if you are very identified with your thoughts and emotions. But really think about this. If you are honest with yourself, the answer will always be “Yes.” It is always possible to imagine letting go, even if you don’t have the willpower or desire to let go right now. That’s all you’re being asked to do: imagine how it would feel to let go.

Step 3:

Ask yourself, “Would I like to let go of it?”

Again, ask the question of yourself silently. This question is asking, “Do you choose to let it go? Would you rather be imperturbable or vexed by this emotion?” Again, you are free to answer “Yes” or “No”. With a bit of practice you will find that the answer naturally becomes “Yes”. Don’t force a “Yes” if you really believe “No.”

Step 4:

Ask yourself, “When can I let it go?”

Again, ask yourself silently. Answer honestly. If you want to hold on to the feeling for 2 days, then say, “In two days.” If want the feeling gone right now, say “Right now!” Any answer is acceptable.

Step 5:

After you’ve gone through steps 1 – 4, you will feel some portion of the resistance release. It might be subtle as first, but you’ll feel the heaviness lift, even if you answered “No!”, “No!”, and “Never!”

Good work! But you probably still have some part of the resistance remaining. Wait 10-15 seconds after completing a cycle before you start the next cycle by going back into step 1. Conjure up the resistance again. You should notice that the resistance is not as strong as before, even if only reduced by a little. Good! Complete the remaining steps for the second cycle.

To completely remove an emotion you will need to run the cycle four times on average. For a very strong case of resistance it might take 6 or 7 times. For a mild case, it might take 2 or 3. As you experiment, play close attention to how you feel and what you think.

Reverse Psychology

The trickiest thing about resistance is that you tend to create it at the worst possible times. If there’s an urgent deadline coming up, or you really need to go on a diet, you will naturally put extra pressure on yourself to succeed. Unfortunately, this is the surest way to create extra-heavy resistance.

Instead — counter-intuitively — the most effective approach is to take your foot off the pedal. This can be especially difficult if you’re a high-achiever, but whatever you feel you NEED to do, tell yourself you don’t really NEED to do it.

This can be a difficult inner game shift to make. It takes courage. Right now you are probably operating from a position of fear — fear that if you don’t push yourself, nothing will happen. Lack of ambition may be a problem for some folks, but not for high-achievers. You probably have the opposite problem: you overburden yourself with obligation, which creates self-sabotage and turns joyful activities into a grind.

Self-flagellation might be a good way to motivate yourself for short periods of time, but it’s painful, it’s not sustainable, and it’s not even the most productive way to live. WANTING, rather than NEEDING, to do things is a far better way to live. Have the courage to ease up on yourself. You might incur a short-term loss in productivity, but you will quickly make up for it once you’re in flow.

Allow Yourself to Feel Shitty

Another good way to release resistance is to simply ask yourself, “Could I allow myself to just feel bad right now?”

All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.

— Blaise Pascal

A lot of resistance gets created when you mindlessly run from in-the-moment emotions. For example, if you feel bad because you have to take out the trash — “Sigh… what a grind” — you will create extra resistance when you desire things to be other than what they are.

Instead, surrender to the situation. Yes, the situation sucks, but it sucks x10 more simply because you’re resisting it. Surrender all your control. Stop needing to make it better and just accept what is — at least for just a few minutes. When you stop trying to escape bad feelings, most of them simply disappear. Again, very counter-intuitive, so you must re-train you brain to think this way.

Common Mistakes with Using Sedona

I’ve made all these mistakes in practicing Sedona and you will too, so watch out!

Mistake #1: Thinking it’s too simple to work, and therefore not giving it an honest effort. Don’t make this mistake. Stop being closed-minded. Try Sedona on cases of resistance as they pop up throughout the week. Seize natural opportunities. Try it for at least 1 week in several different areas of your life: work, family, fitness, etc.

Mistake #2: Asking yourself the questions without actually thinking about your answers or living through the feeling. Don’t answer the questions robotically.

Mistake #3: Not giving honest answers. Don’t force a “Yes” when you really believe “No”. It’s okay to say “No” because it still leads to release. I’ve found that I need to give honest answers for the method to work.

Mistake #4: Being lazy and not repeating the cycle at least 4 times. It’s very tempting to run through one cycle and judge the lack of results, “Oh, I don’t feel any better. I knew it! What a bunch of nonsense!” No! You have to do it 4 times. Not 2 times. Not 3 times. But 4 times. Only then do you get to judge.

Mistake #5: Thinking that you’re special and that Sedona doesn’t work for you. You’re just being stubborn. Used properly it works for every sane human being.

Mistake #6: Developing resistance towards using Sedona, even after you’ve shown yourself that it works. This is a nasty little trick your mind can play. I’ll talk more about it in the next section.

Resisting Sedona

Let’s say, for instance, that you’re doing great with releasing. You’re really enjoying it, and you think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Then a few days, weeks, or months later, it’s hard to persuade yourself to do it, even though you’ve had firsthand experience of how much it can help you. What happened? You hit resistance. Most likely, you turned releasing into a should.

— Hale Dwoskin

You can develop resistance towards Sedona just like anything else. Sedona will become a grind as soon as you make it a MUST. It will feel like this:

“Oh, I’m experiencing resistance today about doing the taxes. I must use Sedona to remove the resistance. Oh… but why must it be so complicated? I just want things to be smooth without having to use things like Sedona.”

If you go down this route you will resist not only doing your taxes but also using Sedona to help you start doing your taxes. Stop whining! Sedona is about as simple a technique as you are going to find. What do you expect, your problems to vanish automatically? You came here looking to take control of your resistance. Now you have the right tool.

Don’t pressure yourself to use Sedona. Use it because you’re excited to cut all the grind and pressure out of your life. Think about that for a minute: you can remove all the frustration AND improve your productivity! That’s pretty amazing if you thinking about it. What are some important areas in your life that would benefit from Sedona? Business? Fitness? Make a list.

And don’t forget, if you are experiencing resistance to Sedona you can use Sedona to release it. But again, don’t make it a MUST, or you will create resistance towards releasing your resistance in using Sedona to release resistance. Quite a mouthful! But it does happen.

The “Just Do It” Method

There is actually an easier way than Sedona to eliminate resistance: Just do it!

Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.

— Thomas Jefferson

Sometimes the real problem tends to be that you over-think your problems. Planning, doing inner work, and using techniques like Sedona can be great, but it can also be just another excuse to procrastinate from doing the real work. If you find yourself caught in your head and you don’t want to use a “complicated” technique like Sedona then your best option is to force action.

The trick to forcing action is to do it as thoughtlessly as possible. For example, are you dreading sitting down to do the taxes? Literally force your body to sit down in front of the computer. Move your hands towards the file cabinet and pull out your receipts. Put you hand on the mouse, navigate to the TaxAct icon on your desktop, and click on it.

Obvious? Yes. Easy to do consistently? No. Sometimes your brain just wants to be a stubborn mule.

The wrong way to do things is to think too far ahead, visualizing all the work involved.

You’re not being very smart when you imagine everything that doing your taxes will entail: “I’ll have to dig through 100 receipts… I’ll have to call my bank… I’ll have to sit there for hours… I’ll have to dig through the tax code… I’ll have to consult my attorney… Oh man! This will take forever!”

Of course you’re resistant! You’re thinking too far ahead. With the “Just Do It” approach you try not to think about the future at all. Just take that first baby-step. Then the second baby-step. Then the third. Soon enough you’re on a roll and the resistance naturally melts away.

Sedona vs. Just Do It

While there is a spartan, au-naturale elegance to the “Just Do It” method, applying it consistently requires willpower. It’s also not as fast as Sedona. It’s also not always possible to use it immediately.

Sedona requires willpower as well, but it gives you a lot more leverage.

With Sedona each cycle takes about 30 seconds. It takes 4 cycles to feel a lot better. So you can release resistance within 2 minutes and you can do it conveniently while engaged in other things. Sedona can be done while driving, jogging, eating, brushing your teeth, doing laundry, taking out the trash, pumping weights, waiting on the phone, or waiting in line at the grocery store.

The more you practice Sedona the more instinctive it becomes. It’s a robust life-long skill with massive return on investment. Think about it: a tool to break through resistance quickly and easily, even when you’re not feeling resourceful. How much would pay for that if it was on sale at Walmart? Well, it’s free! …sort of. The only cost is practice.

Don’t delay, get started right now!

If you’d like to learn more about the Sedona Method, check out their official book, The Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin, or the excellent 4-in-1 Supercourse. You can also order video and audio courses from Sedona.com (Affiliate links, although I’m not associated with Sedona.)

Bottom Line: Resistance contributes to procrastination, self-sabotage, and frustration. Practice the Sedona Method for breaking through resistance.

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Angela says:

Thanks for your awesome explanation of resistance and how to use the Sedona Method Leo! I am currently participating in the Sedona Method and was looking for more information on a resistance exercise they use when I stumbled upon your article.
I found your explanation more detailed and more understandable than listening to Hale. I am a few lessons into Sedona and hadn’t gotten that I need to actually feel the feeling associated with whatever emotion I am dealing with, rather than just thinking about the feeling.
You made it really clear to me how to best use this technique to produce results. Thank you.
I look forward to listening/reading more of you articles soon. Keep up the awesome content!

Leo Gura says:

Good to see people using Sedona. It’s powerful. Make good use of it.

Petter says:

I started reading the sedona method book 2 months ago, and got about half way.
I made some good results the first few weeks. But without knowing it, not before I just watced your video, I got resistance against using the sedona method.
I havvent used it for 2-3 weeks.
But i definitely will will start up again now, and finish that book and get rid of some heavy resistance!
Thanks for the wake up call

Sorry if my English aint all good, from Norway.

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