Resistance to the pain in our life

Session Details - May 16th, 2016 - Resistance, how do we cause ourselves unecessary suffering?

Resistance refers to the wish that our moment-to-moment experience be other than it is.

As the Borg leader in Star Trek stated ‘resistance is futile’. There are definite moments where it may be wise self-care to distract and even protect one’s self from certain things in life. Unfortunately ‘what we resist persists’. As we strengthen our mindfulness and our self-compassion resources we can begin the process of  ‘attending and befriending’ those things in our life that we would dearly like to be different.

Where we rest our attention grows stronger – where is yours? We are always placing our attention somewhere, either consciously or unconsciously. So perhaps the question of to resist or not to resent is a choice!

The 2nd arrow: Pain is inevitable; illness, old age, loss of loved ones, financial hardship etc. We can look at the Buddhist metaphor of life throwing arrows at us – most of which we cannot avoid. Where we do have a choice is – are we going to throw the 2nd arrow? This kind of secondary suffering is resistance.

When resistance causes extra suffering (like that of the 2nd arrow), awareness of it and then the gradual dropping off of resistance is at the heart of MSC practice. – ACCEPTANCE

Suffering = Pain x Resistance


To quote the insight’s of Viktor Frankl:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” “For the first time in my life I saw the truth as is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”

So I pose this invitation to you: practice mindfulness to gain the insight and the space to choose your response / behavior. Practice compassion to strengthen your faith in love and your understanding that all things are in transition – ‘this too will pass’.


Exercise for the MSC handbook: 'How do we cause ourselves unnecessary suffering'

  • Think of a current situation where you feel that resisting the reality of something painful is causing you unnecessary suffering, and may be making things worse.
  • How do you know you are resisting?
  • What are the consequences of resisting?
  • Can you see the reasons why you are resisting? Perhaps the short term benefits?
  • Now please consider how mindfulness might help lessen your resistance, could validating the pain, allowing space for it to be felt and heard make things easier or harder?
  • Can you hold yourself in compassion; can your own loving connected presence allow you to let go of resistance a little?


Perhaps using the SC break:

  • This is a difficult thing (Mindfulness instead of avoidance)
  • Part of being human is experiencing challenging and difficult things (common humanity instead of separation)
  • May I learn to give myself what I need, and be as kind as possible (kindness instead of criticism)

Comments from participants

“I have found mindfulness a key to coping." 

“Learning to be still and kind to myself." 

“Tina, you create a safe, warm, kind and comfortable environment."

“I could not think of a better way to start my week." 

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