Dissolving the resistance to doing what you want

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

Have you wanted to do something that was so important to you, yet felt that the world around you was conspiring to stop you from doing it? Lets look at how to patiently dissolve this resistance so you can do what matters most to you.

When you have faced a significant loss in your life and have reached a point where you are ready to move on, not everyone around you will be ready to accept that, and you will inevitably face some resistance.

  • Perhaps you lost your wife and are now ready to start dating and may even consider marrying again, but your children are insecure about a new ‘mother’ figure in their life.

  • Perhaps you want to move to a smaller house or another town but your elderly parents want you to stay close by.

  • Perhaps you want to change careers to do something more fulfilling with your life, but your wife fears having enough money to maintain the lavish lifestyle you’ve had so far.

These are of course all valid concerns and if your duty means supporting these people who depend on you, then you certainly need to fulfil that.

But what about when it goes beyond duty and when others’ greed, insecurity and concerns hold you back from moving on?

Noticing the fractures in your relationship

The trouble is that when we are fixed on doing something and then others stop us from doing it, we get upset and maybe throw a tantrum.

When others expect us to behave in a certain way and we don’t adhere to it, then they may get upset too.

Ultimately what happens is that it creates fractures in the relationship.

When this happens during a difficult emotional time following a loss, these fractures can quickly turn into deep wounds and broken relationships.

How to dissolve the resistance

So how do you dissolve that resistance from others so that you can do what you need to do while minimising harm to those around you?

This past weekend, my wife and I stayed at a wonderful vegan guest house in the English woodlands – it was an opportunity to celebrate my birthday in a place we love, enjoying great vegan feasts, taking long walks in the forest and doing the things that are most important to us such as meditating, contemplating on spiritual texts, getting plenty of rest and spending quality time together.

For me, that list also included writing a post here at Live with loss – something that I find hugely fulfilling. However, with it being fairly late one evening, Heena was tired and insisted that we both rest so we would be refreshed for the next day’s activities.

Knowing that Heena and I both get a little cranky when we’re tired, I knew that if I became stubborn that I HAVE to write, then she would also stand her ground and we’d both end up broken and miserable. I needed to find another way.

Here’s what I did and what I recommend you do to dissolve the resistance to do what you want while keeping the peace in your relationships.

1. List out your priorities: Think through what’s really important to you and in what order. For me, it was important that during the weekend I (i) meditate and read the spiritual texts with full focus; (ii) have a relaxing weekend with Heena; (iii) write and publish a post at Live with loss.

2. Explain the situation: If you can, sit with the person who is stopping you and explain how you feel about what is important to you and why. For me, I explained to Heena the order and that I wouldn’t insist on doing any writing if it only caused friction between us, troubled my mind and affected my meditation and our weekend.

3. Let go: Realise that at this point, you have laid your cards on the table and it could go either way. Let go of the need to have your own way. I had to be prepared for the fact that Heena may still not see how important the writing part was to me, or that her tiredness may be clouding her judgement. I had to ask myself “Am I prepared to let go of the writing if it means I can still have an enjoyable relaxing weekend with Heena, continuing with our progress together?”

It turned out that Heena listened with an open heart and went to sleep while I went ahead and drafted this post. However, you’ll notice that the post didn’t get completed and published till today. This is because I was typing away noisily which I could see was disturbing her sleep, so I decided to put the laptop away and rest up for the night.

This is of course a tiny example in comparison to wanting to move homes or change jobs or some other major lifestyle shift, but I hope it serves as a useful example of the steps you can take to combat resistance in your life.

Sometimes you’ll want to go ahead and do what you think is important to you, regardless of anything else. Other times, you may see how it sits alongside other priorities in your life.

I hope, in the days ahead, you get to calmly proceed with what is important to you, while being true to the relationships in your life that you hold so dear.

Change in routine

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

When a loved one dies, your entire routine may flip over.

This morning I got talking to my neighbour whose father died about a month ago. He had passed on at the grand age of 102.

For the last few years, it was my neighbour’s daily routine to check in on his father in the late afternoon. They lived in separate houses, but were just round the corner from each other, so checking in on him was fairly convenient from a location perspective. However, I suspect may have been also been a bit of a drag to have had to do it every single day.

A month since his father’s death and wherever my neighbour is, he still habitually checks his watch as it approaches 4:30pm, thinking that he needs to return home to check on his father.

Some routines take a while to adjust away from.

No-one is anyone’s

Suraj and Sawan, when they were kids

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

As I spend more and more time as a bereavement support visitor, helping those who have lost a loved one to get through their suffering, I would have thought that I’d be pretty good at loosening my own emotional grip on the people I care about.

Yet, as time goes on, I seem to feel more and more heartache at the thought that those closest to me will inevitably one day be no more – in particular, my kid bro.

Sometimes I envision how I might receive the news about his death, or react to finding out about him being hurt in some serious way.

I imagine myself frozen in time, initially standing like a stone cold statue, riddled with shock, and then the next moment collapsing to the floor overcome with the pain of my insides being crushed by the grip of my very own hands.

The grip of my attachement. The pain of my loss.

Nobody is for anybody

In the timeless Jain tradition, there is a reflection titled “anyatva bhavana” which (in Gujarati) states:

“Aa sansaar ma koi koinu nathi.”

This roughly translates to:

“In this worldly life, no-one is anyone’s.”

So why do we feel such strong attachments to our younger siblings, and how can the “anyatva bhavana” reflection help us reduce the torment we relentlessly place on ourselves?

This perplexing attachment toward our siblings

The feeling we have towards our younger siblings, particularly when we grow up after all those initial years of teasing and squabbling, is of care and concern for them, blended with pride of what they have achieved in life so far.

When I look at my brother (he turned thirty this week), I see a confident caring man who has the company of a loving wife, a stable roof over his head, doing work he is committed to and the loyalty of friendships he has been growing and strengthening since childhood.

However, beneath his confident and joyful exterior, I notice his fears and his concerns. Somehow, I can feel his deepest pains that he appears to cover up. The same pains and doubts and fears that we all have – each and every one of us.

The daily discomforts of our body. The financial constraints of hectic western life. The busy-ness and habits of a time-poor society gradually creeping in.

So yes, I notice his incredible strengths, and I notice the depths of his hurt caused by the strain on a typically fractured worldly life.

It makes me want to hold him high above my head and boast about him to the world, while embracing him with a tight grip, to let him know that everything will be ok.

This is my attachment to my kid bro. The very same attachment you may also be having to those you adore.

Understanding that nobody is for anybody

In this world we realise that nomatter how much we try to help take away someone’s suffering or ask others to reduce our pain, we are ultimately truly alone.

If I am deep in debt and someone hands me a bundle of cash, that may temporarily alleviate my financial problems, but it will not cure me of the greed that led me to that state.

That greed is my own that I need to work on and resolve, so that it need not trouble me forever more.

Whatever we currently experience is a result of our past actions. All the trouble, torment and harm we have caused to others in our past has resulted in troublesome situations for us right here, right now.

Someone may run a red light and crash into the back of the car, or your house may get burned down, or business become bankrupt, or get kicked out of your job, or racially abused or anything else under the sun that causes pain, suffering, disease, despair.

But it needn’t cause pain, suffering, disease or despair.

No-one, nomatter how much they may love and care for us, can truly take that situation away from us. We have to endure it ourselves, witness it, and calmly let it pass.

If we don’t stay calm and let it pass, then what will happen? We get consumed by it, wishing that we didn’t have to deal with it, fighting to shift it from our lives, indulging in anger and causing more harm. This inevitably leads to more trouble for us in the future.

What you do now massively impacts the situations that arise for you at a later point in time.

Guaranteed.

So we must understand that everything happening to us right now is completely our own doing, our fault, our responsibility.

It doesn’t mean sit back and do nothing – we need to deal with the situation appropriately.

But while dealing with it, remain calm and let the matter gradually pass.

No-one can truly take away our pain, nor can we truly alleviate anyone’s suffering.

However, our compassionate hearts give us an opportunity to reach out to another.

When you see someone suffering, you can help them out practically and emotionally, all the while knowing that in all honesty, the only true beneficiary… is you.

(picture: Suraj with his younger brother Sawan when they were kids)