On psychological resistance

While it’s important to begin to recognize resistance, we certainly don’t want to try to smash our way through it. Doing so intensifies inner conflict. Instead, we just have to watch for it, acknowledge it, and even show some begrudging respect for its existence as a facet of human nature. We do our best to recognize it, and then we try to proceed with confidence that it won’t defeat us.

Insecure or neurotic people, rather than knowing themselves intrinsically through feelings, say, of goodness and integrity, tend to orient themselves around ideas and beliefs that validate their inner defensiveness. New ideas that challenge their old ones can strike at the fabric of their identity and threaten to undermine it. Some new ideas, of course, are more powerful than others. The notion that we’re so willing to cling to negative emotions is one such new idea (it’s not “new” per se, but new to most people).

For insecure adults, learning something new about their psyche feels as if they’re being asked to acknowledge the degree of their ignorance. That’s a bitter step down from what they feel to be their saving grace, their illusion of knowing their own mind. Resistance combines with furious non-acceptance to debunk this humiliating new idea. It’s not a stretch to say the neurotic person’s inner modus operandi is to try to falsify reality in order to accommodate their defenses. (In the case of people with mental disorders, reality has already been falsified.)

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