If where we focus our energy defines us, then most of us are defined not by what we do but rather by what we resist doing.
The friction of resistance, working to turn drives into waste heat rather than scary change, trying to keep us fixed and safe and small and under the radar, is how so many people spend so much energy.
Negative self definition — not really being clear on who we are, but knowing with a passion who we are not — is at the core of resistance. It’s so much easier to know what we loathe than what we actually love, especially if what we loathe is what people around us loathe and fear.
The most common rules that we are given are about what we must not do. When we get comments, few people choose to affirm our strengths, rather they expound on our weaknesses, where they see us failing. The world makes clear what they don’t want to see us doing.
Is trying desperately not to make a mistake, trying not to be seen as wrong or stupid, really the way we can become our best self?
We see the world through our own eyes, as a reflection of our own expectations and views. When we see anything that we are resisting, denying, fighting or keeping down inside ourselves in other people, we often find it offensive, repellent or just annoying in them.
This externalization is how our internal resistance, rooted in negative identity definition, makes spaces unsafe and scary. We attack in others what we resist in ourselves, fighting them to justify and rationalize our own hidden fight.
Learning to affirm, appreciate and enjoy in others what we would never ever choose for ourselves, especially what we actively resist in ourselves, is a real challenge. To me, it is the essence of queerness, the affirmation of personal choices that are bold and different as long as they do not directly hurt others without their consent.
This doesn’t mean that their choices don’t stir feelings, disquieting or discomforting people, challenging taste, resistance and fear, only that they do not directly hurt people. Your comfort is not the responsibility of others, only your safety is. You are responsible for your own feelings, for working them through, for understanding your own resistance and getting past it.
“I would never wear that, but on you, it looks fabulous!” It sounds simple, but when someone else’s choices bring up your stuff, when they externally mirror what you are internally resisting, it isn’t.
The amount of energy we spend resisting going into the darkness and facing our own fears is astounding. We act out, we stuff, we indulge in sensation and distraction, all to stay in the mainstream and avoid having to do the hard work of sorting out prejudice and convention from truth and power.
We resist our own inner desire just to avoid the resistance we would get by bucking the status quo, the normative expectations of those around us. We use the friction of resistance to keep us small & warm rather than the fiction of motion to heat us up and move us forward. We know that Stepping away from fear is always stepping into what you fear.
Following your bliss brings light and heat while resisting it brings burn out and exhaustion.
You define your life by your choices.
If your choice is to resist power, passion and possibility then you become defined by your “no” choices, leaving you tender and bitter, ready to lash out at those who seem to discount the effort you make to stay normative. You stay angry because the world isn’t as it “should be.”
If your choice is to engage your own power passion and possibility then you are defined by what your “yes” choices, leaving you energized, ready to accept happiness and say yes to other people who are trying to follow their bliss. You find happiness in the world as it is.
Resistance may not be futile, but when we are resisting our own knowledge and passion, it is costly and destructive.