THE BLOG

Are You Stuck in the 'Resistance Syndrome'?

07/01/2014 12:53 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2014

Do you find yourself stuck in your life, resisting doing what you really need to do? There is a good reason for this.

Did you learn when you were growing up that resisting was the only way to maintain your integrity in the face of invasive, controlling parents or other caregivers? The problem is that this may have been true when you were a child, but it's not true now. In fact, when you are driven to resist out of fear of being controlled, you are not free to make your own choices. You are not even free to do the things you know are best for you. Paradoxically, you are actually controlled by your resistance. What used to safeguard your integrity now cheats you out of your personal freedom and sabotages your ability to grow and change.

Once people resist parents, they may transfer this resistance to their relationship with their mate, boss, or even to themselves or a higher power. You might be projecting your controlling parents onto your concept of God and then resist what might be in your highest good.

If you had parents who were extremely invasive and consuming in their attempts to control you, you may have felt very helpless and lonely. You discovered ways to resist to not feel so helpless over your loss of self. This resistance then became part of the identity of your ego-wounded self, and you became addicted to it. It became a way your ego wounded self attempts to make you feel safe.

The "resistance syndrome" is, in my opinion, often why people get stuck in depression, stuck in their recovery, and why their healing seems to go just so far and no further. It is a key reason why people have not been able to open to a higher source of guidance and experience unconditional love, comfort and wisdom firsthand.

Symptoms of the "Resistance Syndrome"

There are seven symptoms of the "resistance syndrome." Most people who are caught up in this syndrome will identify with at least three of them.

1. Being stuck: No matter how much therapy you have, how many different healing processes you try, how many self-help books you read or how many workshops you attend, you don't feel better. Nothing is working. You are stuck in your unhappiness, your relationships, your work, and you often feel alone and misunderstood.

2. Having had controlling parents: One or both of your parents were controlling -- invasive, overprotective, engulfing, consuming, physically or sexually abusive, shaming or critical.

3. Wanting to change but not taking meaningful action:
You seem to have the best of intentions to really take care of yourself in new ways. You decide on some new actions you'll take, but somehow you never seem to carry them out for more than a few days or a few weeks at the most. No matter how many resolutions you make to follow through, you never do.

4. Denying your real motivation: You say you want to change -- to become loving, successful, happy, responsible, spiritually connected, slender, sober, healthy, on time, organized and so on, yet it never happens. You are in denial about the fact that you have a more important goal, which is not to be controlled by anyone or anything, not even by your own good intentions.

5. Resenting the goal: While you say you want to be loving, successful, responsible, healthy, organized and so on, you resent the very thing you say you want. You may even, at times, judge it as being an unworthy goal: "People who jog are too obsessed with their appearance. Why are looks such a big deal in our culture?"

6. Getting satisfaction out of others' frustration with you: When people react negatively to your lack of action or your obstinate behavior, you feel gratified, like a rebellious adolescent who is winning the power struggle with his or her parents. You might even feel a gloating satisfaction when your therapist is not able to help you get "unstuck." You might feel this same satisfaction with regard to your concept of God, who also cannot get past your resistance.

7. Fear of failure: Resisting is a good way of never having to test yourself out. As long as you are determining your worth by your success or failure, rather than by your effort and intrinsic qualities, you will likely remain stuck.

You are "winning," but what are you winning? And what are you losing?

The Way Out

The way out of the "resistance syndrome" is to decide that whether or not someone thinks they are controlling you is irrelevant to you, and to make it okay to fail by not attaching your worth to success or failure. When you define your worth by your effort and your intrinsic qualities -- such as kindness and caring -- then you can fail, learn from it, and keep making more effort toward whatever is alive and passionate for you.

Making these profound decisions can free you to follow through on what is in your highest good and what might bring you great joy.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, best-selling author, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah. To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, and join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships." Discover SelfQuest®, a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution computer program. Phone or Skype sessions with Dr. Margaret Paul.

Connect with Margaret on Facebook: Inner Bonding, and Facebook: SelfQuest.