“It is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost.” – Black Elk
Yesterday, I looked at mobility. The capacity to move or be moved. Today, I want to look at how resistance blocks mobility by preventing us from being moved. The end-point of resistance is integration. Integration is the cohesive state wherein desire can be more fully directed (and expressed) without creating burdensome distress at the same time.
Another point about integration: the five markers for integration are Flexible, Adaptive, Coherent, Energized, and Stable (FACES). Any person who is demonstrates integration will display these characteristics or markers. Resistance (often expressed as anger, fear, blocking, stonewalling, criticism, contempt, and defensiveness) reduces any one or all of the five integration markers. Resistance blocks mobility and stifles fulfillment.
In yesterday’s blog, I described how mobility puts trust into focus by reinforcing our naturally occurring felt desires, ones that cannot be expressed by anyone else. I also mentioned how we are conditioned to put power before relationship. Since power places us in the world even if we have no conscious sense of relationship, or purpose, or vision. Power often serves as a substitute for all three. Resistance is that identification with power. We use resistance to stifle any upsurge in trust that might pull us away from our identification with power. And without these new upsurges in trust, we cannot give voice to our felt desires. New areas of growth are repressed and pushed underground. They are denied the focus and attention that trust creates.
The idea that power can be a substitute for:
- positive and meaningful relationship, or
- a self-directed purpose, or
- a fulfilling vision of the future
should not be all that surprising. Growth often prompts a shift in how we both hold and express power. And when challenged, many people shift their attention and focus in negative ways – from openness and ease to one of rigidity and intolerance – because they have been trained to place power before relationship. And to do that, anxiety and distress must hijack our attention. It would seem that any felt desire, which places relationship before power, challenges the identifications we already have, making it is difficult for us to acknowledge any upsurges in trust. Resistance rises up to challenge the felt desires which seek integration.
And this is NOT about competing desires. Resistance is often framed as a desire, but it is more akin to the maintenance of the status quo. “We want what we want.” And if the status quo resists, it is not because the status quo desires or wants, it is merely because inclusion is blocked. We are still present with our unacknowledged desire. Resistence is just one step along the way to integration and the shift in trust which allows for greater mobility.
Arnie Mindell uses the term ‘learning edge’ to indicate how resistance always accompanies learning and growth. It is the irritation created by desire which eventually leads to new forms of fulfillment and growth.
So how do you achieve integration?
If power is a substitute for relationship, then integration can be achieved by putting relationship before power and letting that be “enough.” The temptation here is to put attention and focus on how power has shifted, to make some judgement about how the status quo is now different. Putting relationship before power and letting that be “enough” disconnects our attachment around letting power ‘stand-in’ for relationship. We have to be bigger than our identification with power.
Let’s take an example:
One night Micheal and Ellen were sleeping. They have a 3-months old son, Jason, who started crying. Micheal woke up and thought about getting up to take care of Jason; but didn’t. He let the child wail. The idea crept into his mind that ‘getting up’ was Ellen’s job, and he began to justify how he was a victim and how Ellen was just lazy and inconsiderate. Micheal was resisting his desire to be a good father and husband by putting all his attention on the ‘juice’ of being a victim and blaming Ellen. Micheal was attached to letting his power take over the situation and allowing it to ‘stand-in’ for his relationship.
To overcome this resistance Micheal had to:
- Let go of pre-conceptions.
(Micheal realized that blaming Ellen was too easy.)
- Self-determine what he wanted.
(Micheal built an image of quieting Jason.)
- Feel the personal and unique invitation to be bigger than himself.
(Micheal realized that Jason was genuinely helpless.)
- Find the belief that “enough” was genuinely possible.
(Micheal knew comforting Jason would only take a few minutes.)
If Micheal remained in resistance, both Ellen and Jason would have become objects. Not people. Power would have triumphed over relationship, and Micheal would have been “stuck” in the resistant perspective of making others “wrong” so he could be “right.” No mobility. No fulfillment.
The darkness ‘of their eyes’ (quoted at the top) is ego-informed resistance, the type which keeps us lost and disconnected. But eventually resistance leads to integration. The ego bends itself, by its own desire, and restores mobility through integration. All roads lead to Rome. Integration is end-point of all resistance. Eventually, it discovers it MUST be bigger than itself.
Thanks for listening!