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The Resistance Syndrome

By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 31, 2006

If you are stuck in your healing process, it may because of the Resistance Syndrome, fearing being controlled by yourself, others or even by God.

For more information on The Resistance Syndrome, see Chapter Four in Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?

ResistancePeople who resist learned early on that resisting was the only way to maintain their integrity in the face of invasive, controlling parents or other caregivers. This may have been true when they were children, 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, their own authoritarian wounded self, or to God. They then find it impossible to surrender to their Guidance for fear of being controlled and consumed by God in the way they were by their parents.

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 wounded self and you became addicted to it. It became a way your wounded self attempts to make you feel safe.

The Resistance Syndrome is often why people get stuck in their recovery, 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 Spirit and experience unconditional love firsthand.

Symptoms of the Resistance Syndrome

There are six 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. You often find yourself procrastinating.

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 God, who also cannot get past your resistance.

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."

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.

Photo by Louis Blythe


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