The ‘No’ on the way to ‘Yes’
This month I’ve been leading a wonderful group through a class on healing the battle with your ‘inner rebel’ – the part of us that can resist growth, change and being told what to do.
One of the things that we’ve discovered in our group is that the inner rebel is often a cover for a part of us that feels really vulnerable – and in this vulnerability, it resists change.
When we approach this part of ourselves with warmth, interest and curiosity, we’re often surprised! For often what feels like resistance isn’t resistance at all.
The tenderness under resistance
It may be a part of you that feels young and shy, unsure or nervous about venturing forth.
It may be a part that feels scared and overwhelmed or unsure of what to do.
Or it may be a part that feels scared to grow, or scared to reveal itself, or scared to hope that change is possible. It longs, more than anything, to trust and to have faith in the tendril of new life that’s emerging out of the soil.
The top layer of feeling
But our feelings and longings don’t come out that way. They first come out as anger, resistance, and feelings of “you can’t make me” and “I don’t want to.”
The inner rebel has much to say! It may take up a lot of space, and express itself strongly. It can feel like an overpowering and maddening part of ourselves.
The fear under resistance
But when we come closer to the resistance, we can see, “Oh, there’s fear under there.” The inner rebel acts so aggressively and protectively because it feels afraid.
We feel afraid that we have to do it perfectly and get it right.
Or we feel afraid of letting ourselves or others down.
Or we feel afraid that we aren’t enough, that we can’t do it.
These layers of fear can spin and spin until we feel like Chicken Little: “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”
The longing under the fear
But the fear is not all there is. Underneath feelings of fear we find something precious: our longings, hopes and dreams – the things we most long to share and manifest in the world.
It may be a longing for something more ephemeral – things like love, kindness, justice, compassion, patience, or courage.
Or it might be a desire for something more tangible – like a book, poem, song, new business, or new career that we long to express, share and give.
It might be a longing to be more authentic – to express more of the vastness of who we are.
But no matter the form, something is trying to come through us.
The valley of fear and contraction
We may not see it as such – because first it travels through this valley of fear – all the concerns and worries we have that we can’t do it, that it won’t happen, or that we’ll fail – and the valley of contraction – the resistance and no’s that arise as a form of self protection.
But what if the inner rebel’s resistance and forcefulness is simply a measure of the depth of our caring – how much this matters to us – and not a character flaw?
In other words, perhaps we feel such strong resistance because of the depth of protectiveness and care we feel for the new life that’s trying to emerge?
It’s something we care about so deeply. And so of course strong feelings arise in an attempt to safeguard and shelter that longing.
So on the way to yes, first we move through a forcefield of no. And as Robert Frost said, the only way out is through.
The doorway to wholeness
As we go through, the inner rebel becomes a doorway to wholeness and to ‘the deeper story’ – the story that is more compassionate and true than the ‘surface story.’
The surface story may tell our story this way – that we have this problem of getting stuck, of having too much resistance; that we’re too afraid; that we’ll never change; that the fear is too great.
But the deeper story says this: look to the longing. Look to the new life that’s sprouting, emerging in you. Look to the tender buds of spring, and trust their unfolding.
You don’t have to fight the resistance, make it wrong, or work so hard.
Simply bring them water, nourish the soil, and hold them in the light.