How to Recognize Resistance in Your Life and Turn It Into Progress

Hey, remember when we were talking about getting your emotions under control and how that it’s important to feel the feels and open up to them in order to release them and move forward in your life?

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Today I want to teach you an exercise that will help with that!
(And if you want to check out that post too, you can find it here!)

Today we’re looking at recognizing resistance in our daily lives so that we can actually process it and choose our next steps consciously, rather than subconsciously sabotaging ourselves and avoiding the resistance. (Which leads to built up emotions, continued frustration, dwindling hopes, and all that other not-so-fun stuck-ness!)

Resistance comes in many forms, and it’s different for everyone.

For some people, resistance looks like overwhelm and comes out as anger or hopelessness. Other times, resistance looks like fatigue and exhaustion even though there’s no “real reason” to be tired. Still, other times resistance looks like doubts and fears.

Regardless of the way resistance appears in your life, the only way to overcome it is to go through it. Just like in the children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, “we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it… Oh no, we’ve got to go through it!”

If you avoid the resistance, refuse to face it, lock it away and try to ignore it… It only grows. It will keep getting in your way. It’s like an Achilles heal, except it’s a much bigger target! AND it destroys you from the inside out.

When you can’t acknowledge your resistance where it’s at, you’re going to constantly sabotage your own dreams until you learn your lesson. No matter how beautiful your plan, how thorough your research, how compelling your reason Why, you will mess it up. Again and again.

Ask me how I know.

(Hint: it’s because I’ve done it a thousand times! Because my clients have done it a thousand times! And because my coaches and my coaches’ clients have done it a thousand times. In other words, this is totally normal and it is something you handle!)

There’s no shame in resisting resistance. We all have a bit of a knack for self-sabotage, especially when it comes to doing anything passionate with potential to change our lives and bring forth massive personal growth.

Resistance comes from the ego. It’s the result of our ego trying to protect us- from the unknown, from change, from new states of being (because they are unknown, something we’ve never experienced, and therefore something we can never know is SAFE!).

The ego isn’t trying to be a jerk… It’s just trying to protect us.

The ego is our fear-response. The one that says “hey, let’s go this way because we know this route and that other road could lead to the middle of nowhere and we might run out of gas or get lost and everything would suck, so let’s just take this road we always take, okay?”

It’s like a misguided friend who means well. “Look… I know you’re excited about this idea… but I don’t think you should do it. I don’t want to see you get hurt. You’re probably going to be disappointed, I don’t want that for you. Can’t you just do This Thing You’ve Always Done instead?”


Resistance is not your enemy. BUT it’s also not really the voice of reason it likes to think it is. Make sense?

Recognizing resistance takes practice, but it’s not a difficult thing to do.

To help you recognize resistance, I want you to just get familiar with what resistance feels like for you today.

Imagine the biggest dream you have. Something you want more than anything. (Or, if you’ve been in a bit of a rut inspiration-wise, think about the last time you really wanted something in the past.)

Imagine having The Thing.

Imagine yourself on top of that mountain, holding that trophy, dancing and celebrating… whatever you’d do, whatever it would feel like to succeed at The Thing… Hold that feeling in your heart for a moment.

If you struggle with resistance: here’s what you might be feeling
(this is just to get you started if you’re new at noticing feels in your mind and body, don’t worry if your experience is different from these examples!)


Your heart aches a little bit, your eyes feel like you might almost cry, your face slips into the slightest scowl, your breathing grows a little more shallow. A touch of despair. Your throat tightens. Fear.

You suddenly feel weak, like there’s no strength in your hands. Your eyes are heavy and you just want to sleep.


Your jaw clenches. Your eyes are open a little wider, there’s tension in the back of your neck and at the base of your skull. Your breathing is faster, your lips pursed, or you’re biting your lip.

Sound familiar?

That’s resistance. Now you know what you’re looking for. Notice what stands out to you about the tension, what stands out to you now will be easiest to identify as you start paying attention in-the-moment for physical and emotional signs that resistance has crept in.

But I don’t want you to just focus on resistance, either.

What we resist persists, but when we focus on what we don’t want, we also attract more of that.

So instead, I want to teach you how to release that resistance in ways that are subtle from the outside, but powerful from the inside. This is something you can do any time, any place.

(No, seriously. I’ve done this during phone calls with clients when my own resistance wanted to pop in! Right in the middle of the phone call, and they don’t even notice. OR they do notice and they’re like “WOW, that was powerful, teach me how to do that!”)

So… notice your resistance again.

Feel it in your heart, your hands, your face, your neck… wherever it is. Let it in. It’s okay. If it wants to cry, let it. If your jaw wants to be clenched, don’t fight it.

Take a breath in, and breathe out. I want you to breathe out just slightly longer than you normally would (and of course, stop this exercise if you’re feeling lightheaded or dizzy!).

Again. This time, allow yourself to inhale just a little bit deeper, and exhale just a little longer than you normally would.

You don’t have to push the envelop for your breath to be an effective tool. Just subtle changes like this are already going to send signals to your brain that it’s okay to relax, that you’re safe and ready to release the tension.

On your next inhale, I want you to imagine that slow, long breath of air swirling around the areas where resistance stands out. Your neck, your face, your hands, your heart…

And as you exhale, imagine the swirling breath gently releasing the tension. Breathe it out a little longer than you usually would. Gently.

Close your eyes and do it again.

This moment is exactly what it needs to be. You are exactly where you’re meant to be. Here and now. You’re enough. This is a step in your journey that is meant to be there. This situation, even the resistance, it’s all here to work in your favor.

And you can always choose to release it. You can choose again at any time.

May peace be with you.

With love,

Jessica Peña

P.S. Want to take this one step further? Take some time to think about what you want in your life instead of resistance!

Remember, when you focus on what you DON’T want, you’re still FOCUSED on it! And you’re going to attract more of it. So what DO you want? If not resistance, what? If not tension, what? If not fear/anger/exhaustion/anxiety, then what?

Now… How can you CHOOSE that? What can you do to bring that into the moment, even if only in the most tiny, subtle way?