Perspectives 9: Naming Our Resistance

Issue 9: October 2012

In This Issue

  • Naming Our Resistance
  • Upcoming Workshop: Tools for Getting Unstuck
  • New Coaching Group starts in January
  • Individual Facilitation

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It’s been a while since I put a newsletter together. The summer flew by in a lovely rush of work and family, including adding a new cat to our household, the wonderful Pippin (orange), pictured here with Oliver, one of our other two.

Oliver was not thrilled with Pippin’s arrival.  He spent a couple of weeks alternating between hiding downstairs and following Pippin around, keeping his distance while growling and hissing and complaining about the invasion of his territory.  We did our best to remind him that he felt this way about every other new member of the household we’ve introduced, and that he always ends up happy to have a new companion, but even with Bach Flower remedies to help, it took a couple of weeks for Pippin’s charm to wear down Oliver’s resistance.  Now they spend much of their time together, chasing each other madly around the house, wrestling, licking each other, and, of course, snuggling.

I’ve been asking you all to submit questions you’d like to see answered in the newsletter, and have received a couple that I’ll be addressing in the next few months. This month, inspired by Oliver, I want to write about a question that came up in my current Creating Your Year coaching group: Why do I resist things that I know would be good for me?

Naming Our Resistance

So why do we resist things we know would be good for us?  We all have those things that we know we want to be doing, but that we just don’t seem to prioritize: meditating every day, eating better, exercising, getting more rest, looking for a new job, getting rid of clutter, doing creative projects, having a hard but important conversation…  We know we would feel hugely better if we just did it.  But then we don’t.  Instead we distract ourselves with other things (work, projects, email, television, taking care of other people’s needs), or we sit on the couch eating chocolate and wishing we were accomplishing something.

It is, as the person in my coaching group who raised the question said, a puzzle.  Why would we choose not to do this thing we know would give us something we really want?

For me, this struggle has been very alive in the last few months as I tried to get myself to spend focused time working on my novel.  Every Sunday I’d look at the coming week and say to myself “Look, there is plenty of time for writing — great!” and by the end of the week, I’d look back frustrated, having done little if any writing.  Oh, there were always reasons — stuff comes up; you know how it is.  But I know myself well enough to know that I’m good at fitting in the things I think are really important.  So, why no room for writing?

Well, I spent several months asking myself this question — or, as I was framing it for myself, “Why am I resisting writing my novel?” — (yes, coaches get stuck too), before I looked at it on the page in an email I was sending a colleague and said “Ah look, it’s a ‘Why’ question.”

As some of you will remember from my workshops and earlier articles, Why questions have a tendency to move us into resistance rather than out of it.  So, I immediately decided to try reframing it as a What question.  Here’s what emerged:

What am I resisting when I choose to do things other than work on my novel?

  • I am resisting prioritizing what I want — my own needs and impulses — over things I think are “Important” or other people’s desires/needs.
  • I am resisting being “self-indulgent” by sinking into the world of the novel, which pulls at me.
  • I am resisting doing the work of focusing in on the novel, which feels overwhelming.

Well.  That’s pretty clear. 

Each of these answers can lead, of course, to more What questions, like:

  • What is scary about committing to focusing on the novel?
  • What is hard about prioritizing my own need/impulses?
  • What makes those other things “Important” and are they really more important than working on the novel?

I might have followed each of those lines of curiosity, following a “What Thread” until I got to the bottom of what was in my way.  But in this case, I didn’t need to.

As soon as I wrote those answers down, I could feel the energy start to shift.  I could feel myself re-centering, remembering how good it feels to work on the novel.  I found my way back to remembering that there will always be a huge list of other things to do, and that many of the things I spend time doing are things that other people can do, but that I am the only person who can write this novel.  I found myself with a whole new level of determination to say yes whenever the impulse to write shows up, and to actually put time on the calendar reserved for writing.

And it’s working.  That was about six weeks ago, and since then I have given myself three days of “writing retreat” at home, I’ve written a 5,000 word short story connected to the novel and over 15,000 words of the novel itself, and I’ve been meeting or exceeding my goal of writing at least 1200 words a week.  Success!  And all this despite my having two new major work projects arrive just as I was starting to write again.

So, what are you resisting?

Try it out.

Start by naming something you know will make you feel good (really, not just something you think you should want to do, but something you know will make you feel good to do), that you habitually avoid/resist doing.

Notice what happens in your body when you think about doing it.  Breathe.  Take time to be with the resistance, to notice what it feels like in your body.  Where does it sit?  What are the sensations?

Breathe.  Just let the resistance be there.  Don’t try to push it away, or judge it.  Just notice it.

Now ask yourself: What am I resisting?

Write down everything that occurs to you in response to the question, without editing.  When you run out of answers, ask yourself “What else?”  Keep going until you really run out of answers.

Now look at the list.  Get curious.  What do you see?

Pick one of the answers — one that draws your attention — and follow a “What Thread;” asking yourself more What questions (what’s hard about this? what do I get from resisting this? and whatever other What questions occur to you), and see what you discover.

Try it again with others of your answers if you need to.

Once you have more clarity about what you are resisting, you may discover that you can just move through the resistance and take the risks you want to take.  If you still feel stuck, try asking “what would make it fun?” or “what would make it easy?” to do the thing you want to be doing.

Join the Conversation

I’d love to hear what you are discovering.  You can share your experiences and response to this article in the comments box at the bottom of this page.

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Upcoming Workshop: Tools for Getting Unstuck

Feeling stuck is an experience common to us all. It stifles our creativity, brings up judgment and anxiety, and wastes a lot of time. Come spend three hours in this highly interactive workshop learning some ways to get out of stuck spots, make decisions you’ll feel good about and create the forward motion you need to create the changes you desire. These techniques can be used at a personal level and in organizations (workplaces, boards, families, recreational and creative organizations, etc.).

Date and Time: Saturday, October 13th, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Location: Portland Community College, CLIMB Center, 1626 SE Water Avenue, Portland (near OMSI), Room 305

Cost and Registration: Pre-registration is required. The CRN is 45813. The cost is $29. You can register online at (the most efficient way), or by calling 971-722-8888, pressing 2 and then pressing 2 again.

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New Coaching Group starts in January

This is a heads up that a new Creating Your Year coaching group will start in January. This group will focus on supporting you to move through the year in ways that deepen your relationships with yourself, your strengths, and your desires.

It will offer:

  • Time set aside to focus just on you and what you want to be creating
  • Honest, open, reflective conversations with others who are creating change in their own lives
  • New tools for figuring out what you most want, getting out of stuck spots and accessing your strengths, your imagination, your best self

The group will meet on a soon to be announced weekday evening, about once a month (10 times between January and November 2013), with an optional day-long retreat in the summer.  If you are intrigued, look for more info in the next issue of the newsletter, or send me an email to let me know you want more information.

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Individual Facilitation

If you are feeling stuck and want to do more in-depth work to move through your stuck spots and begin creating the life you want to be living, I invite you to do three months of individual facilitation (“coaching”).

We will focus in on what is most alive for you, most stuck, most confusing, and discover ways for you to access your own deep wisdom and to release old patterns that have stopped serving you and are preventing you from making the changes you want to make. Individual facilitation is practical — learning and action are integrated, so you are actually taking the steps you want to be taking while getting more clarity about what makes these changes challenging and how to make it easy. The cost for three months of facilitation is $425.

You will find information about individual facilitation with me on the website.

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Call for Questions

Are there things you are struggling with, or coaching-related things you are curious about, that you’d like to see me write about in this eNewsletter? I’d love to know what they are. Please email me at and if I feel like I can address it in the newsletter format, I will.

Image courtesy of markuso at

Happy Autumn!


Tasha Harmon
Life Work Changes

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© Tasha Harmon, October 2012. All rights reserved. You are invited to share this eNewsletter with friends and colleagues as long as it stays intact, with all acknowledgements and contact information in place. If you’d like permission to reprint articles from my eNewsletters, written permission is required. Please do contact me about this if you are interested.  Thank you.

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