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What you resist, persists

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This powerful and arresting statement originates from the work of Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. In it, he provides the powerful insight that the more we try to avoid or suppress something, the more it will continue to exist, and even grow stronger. This is because resistance creates tension and conflict, which can actually give more energy and power to the very thing we are trying to resist. Instead of resisting, we can learn to accept and integrate these aspects of ourselves or our lives in a healthy and constructive way. This requires self-awareness, mindfulness, and a willingness to face our fears and challenges with courage and compassion. By doing so, we can transform our struggles into opportunities for growth and healing.

Jung believed that the human psyche consists of three parts: the ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. The ego is the conscious part of our personality that we identify with. The personal unconscious is the layer of unconscious memories, feelings and thoughts that are unique to each individual. The collective unconscious is the deepest layer of unconscious that contains the archetypes, or universal symbols and patterns, that are shared by all humans.

Jung’s quote suggests that whatever we try to avoid, deny, or suppress in our psyche will not go away, but will only grow stronger and more influential. He argued that we need to face and integrate our shadow, which is the dark and hidden aspect of our personality that contains everything we reject or disown about ourselves. By doing so, we can achieve a state of wholeness and harmony, which he called individuation.

One way to understand Jung’s quote is to apply it to our emotions. Many people tend to resist or repress their negative emotions, such as anger, fear, sadness, or guilt. They may think that these emotions are bad, unacceptable, or dangerous, and that they should not feel them. However, by doing so, they are not allowing themselves to process and heal their emotional wounds. Instead, they are creating more internal conflict and suffering. The negative emotions will not disappear, but will manifest in other ways, such as physical symptoms, psychological disorders, interpersonal problems, or self-sabotage.

Another way to understand Jung’s quote is to apply it to our relationships. Many people tend to resist or avoid conflict with others, especially with those they care about. They may think that conflict is harmful, unpleasant, or unnecessary, and that they should always agree or compromise. However, by doing so, they are not expressing their true feelings and needs, nor respecting the feelings and needs of others. Instead, they are creating more resentment and distance. The conflict will not resolve but will escalate or erupt in more destructive ways.

The key to overcoming resistance is to accept and embrace what we resist. This does not mean that we have to like it or agree with it, but that we have to acknowledge it and understand it. By doing so, we can reduce its power over us and transform it into something positive and constructive. We can use our negative emotions as signals and guides to identify and address our underlying issues. We can use conflict as an opportunity and catalyst to improve our communication and deepen our connection with others.

Jung’s quote is a powerful reminder that resistance is futile and counterproductive. What we resist persists, but what we accept changes.

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