Trans4mind Home Page

Working With Resistance

By Martha Lasley

My business partner, Virginia Kellogg, has helped me understand the beauty of resistance. She says:

If we feel ourselves “grinding away” trying to push people through their resistance, we can simply stop and go into the experience of the resistance. Getting really curious about the resistance rather than trying to get people out of the resistance comes from tuning our listening to that energetic stance of “arms out in front, holding something at bay. There is no need to do anything about it, no need to direct them out of it, and no need to rescue them from their resistance."

Resistance shows up as “bracing against” something, but if we push back against the resistance, we miss what they are protecting or embracing. People always have the choice to explore their emotional resistance and when we point people toward choice, they have a sense of control, ownership, and partnership. We can invite people to exaggerate their bracing by choosing a posture or a movement that embodies what they are bracing against. As they hold it, they become fully present and experience resistance in their bodies. By going into it they build awareness and often a shift will happen when they get clear about their underlying needs, and new choices.

Some clients don’t shift even after we’ve tried everything. Occasionally I’ve seen clients get really, really stuck, and I’ve been stuck a few times myself. More than a few times. Empathy is the most powerful experience I know for helping clients move, but there are times when even that only helps clients spiral deeper into the abyss. If clients talk about the same issue week after week, without any sense of progress, I recommend therapy. Usually my referrals are based on the therapist rather than the type of therapy, but some of the types I find especially useful: Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), feminist therapy to recover self esteem, family system therapy, group therapy and relationship therapy.

Dissatisfied with the effectiveness of therapy, Frank Farrelly[1] developed provocative therapy, a process that promotes transformation in people who struggle with chronic and recalcitrant behaviors. He plays the devil's advocate, court jester, or mischief maker by siding with the client's self-judgment, finding laughter in the absurdity, and puncturing old belief systems. Clowning with clients, without losing the sense of the sacred, he offers laughter as clients explore the edges of their limitations. The Latin word "provocare" literally means to "call forth", but safety comes first. Some of his interventions fly in the face of conventional therapy:

  • not paying attention
  • misconstruing the client's comments
  • joking
  • nonverbal mirroring
  • offering outrageous suggestions
  • making the client ludicrously responsible for absolutely everything that has happened in the past, present and future!
  • insisting they continue with the behavior even when they say they want to stop

Some of the language might include:

  • What’s wrong with that?
  • If that happens you’ll probably die.
  • It’s your karma.
  • You must have gotten really bad parenting.
  • Sounds like a bad soap opera.
  • This has been going on for a decade? Three more decades should be about enough.

Whether they’re shocked, shaken, confused, or angry, clients often have breakthroughs simply because the coach jolts them into discovering their own insights. Behaviors that seem so impossible to change suddenly become so repulsive that the client can’t change their behavior fast enough. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t experienced a breakthrough myself. Laughing at clients is so antithetical to a spiritual, empathic approach – it sounds ridiculous, even cruel. I couldn’t imagine actually saying such things. But when I actually tried it, there was something about the laughter that loosened me up so that I could receive their empathic caring in new ways.

The jolting insight for me was that inconsequential as it seemed, I wanted to be fully heard about something that happened thirty years ago. Back at home, when Dave and I got into our usual gridlock where he was trying to get me to tell him how I feel and I was revealing nothing, I remembered this insight. So I started talking about it and Dave said, "You do realize you've told me this before?" I yelled back, "Yes! And I didn't feel heard then and I don't feel heard now!" Then he silently empathized, with his hand on my back as I cried and talked until I’d said everything. When I got it all out and really felt heard, I remembered the provocative therapy session and I started laughing... David started singing full throttle, "I haven't got time for the pain... I haven't got room for the pain..." which I found very amusing, very cathartic.

About the author:
Martha Lasley is a founder of Coaching for Transformation, an accredited coach training program. She creates results-oriented programs that inspire, motivate, and transform. “I surround myself with people who take risks and look for new ways of doing things; we explore both the solid ground and the edges of transformation."


Coaching is life-changing, world-changing work. The coaching programs at Leadership that Works go beyond theories and models and work with clients on a deeper level. You learn how to coach the whole person: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Whole person Transformation.

Leadership that Works

Transforming the world.
One heart at a time.

More articles from Coaching for Transformation
More Coaching for Transformation articles
Latest Additions

Good info on many topics:

Tools for Transformation

personal development
Trans4mind offers its visitors a huge range of complimentary personal development resources for self-directed education and transformation of the whole person...
HOW TO USE THESE FREE RESOURCES 
Introduction to our Tools for Transformation. We aim to open up the mind to new ideas, new challenges and new solutions - to think differently and be creative.
WORDS OF WISDOM 
Here are our favorite quotes. The best quotes distill powerful wisdom into a few words and can make a real difference to our perception and understanding. Including:
Life  Purpose, Spiritual  Awareness, Success and Abundance, Wisdom from the Heart, Happiness and Wellbeing, Communication & Relationships, Motivation and Leadership, Parenting and Education, Emotional Intelligence, Transitions in Life, Social Community, Quirky Quotes, Creativity, Proverbs, Humor - and many further topics in the Wisdom from the Heart section.
INSIDE-OUT BLOG 
Articles by Peter Shepherd and Wallace Huey. Imagine if the values of the heart could be brought into our families, communities, charities, organizations and businesses... what kind of a world would this create?
TRANS4MIND PODCASTS 
Audios by Peter Shepherd, focused on key personal development topics, to help advance your personal growth.
RAISE YOUR VIBRATION 
A free meditation program to help you experience the state of unconditional love - key to lasting joy and fulfillment in your life.
THE POSITIVE APPROACH 
Become more clear about your own identity, what you want in life - your life vision - and how to manifest your full potential. And then move on to the free New Life Course to advance in many further ways.
THE AFTERLIFE 
If we do actually have a soul, then where does it go after death? Near-death experiences provide convincing answers.
ONLINE BOOKS 
Check out our fascinating collection of complete books for you to read online, including Peter Shepherd’s Transforming the Mind, which created the foundation of this site back in 1997.
EBOOK DOWNLOADS 
Over 250 PDFs to freely download covering many personal development topics - and including the range of Trans4mind publications.
KNOW YOUR OWN MIND 
Free personality test based on the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. See yourself as others may see you, in a more objective light, so you can know yourself better.
AND LOTS MORE 
Our site is expansive, including loads of helpful resources. See what else we have.

Check out the menus on the top of every page too!

Hypnosis Downloads

Support your personal development with these popular and effective hypnosis downloads...

This is our selection of favorites, but there's a session for every need! Choose from over 800 Hypnosis Downloads...
Search now on an issue that interests or concerns you...
 

View all the Hypnosis Downloads here

Copyright © 1997-2018 Trans4mind Ltd
Terms of Use & Privacy Policy       Email Webmaster