An acquaintance of mine communicated recently that she was deeply troubled by her tendency to resist what she considered to be a superior way of behaving in favor of the many indulgences which both give her pleasure and considerable guilt.

What I heard her saying was, in effect, that instead of yielding to the discomfort of experiencing what was arising for her, she tends to opt for the many types of distractions that she relies on to keep her safe and stable. From her accounting, these were food, movies, sleep, sex, wine and day dreaming. This set me thinking, once again, about the role of resistance and guilt in my life and the lives of others.

What comes to my mind when I consider this issue is the role of perception and how each of us will view the exact same phenomenon from a slightly to sometimes dramatically different point of view.

If I’m feeling balanced and in touch with an internal spaciousness then my tendency will be to allow whatever is arising to be true and valid and therefor justified and acceptable. However, if I’m not in balance because I haven’t slept well or I ate poorly or I’ve had a struggle with someone I care for, then my tendency will be to indulge in anything that provides me with a facsimile of nurturance and sustenance.

As a result of this perception, I conclude that my resistant point of view is nothing out of the ordinary but a human attempt to create stability and wholeness in a situation that is out of balance and a desire to be cared for in ways that ease the discomfort.

So the work of anyone, me included, who wishes to negotiate the sometimes-turbulent terrain of imbalance and resistance must follow a two-fold path. On the one hand, accept the situation. See it as an opportunity to allow the indulgence to be a valid expression of our desire to re-establish balance and to provide ourselves with a loving kindness that is being denied.

At the same time, there has to be recognition of the desire to change a familiar habit into a new and revised way of experiencing ourselves and the world. This dictum of mine is also congruent with a quote from Rumi, the celebrated Sufi poet: “The cure for the pain is in the pain.” To me this means that what we do not experience directly in the body/mind cannot be released.

The dilemma for most humans is that we spend our precious lives protecting ourselves from discomfort. However, if we wish to heal from wounding which stems from anywhere along the way, we have to experience some discomfort. The point of effective therapy is to use the therapeutic relationship to feel sufficiently safe and stable to connect and release this pain.