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Hopelessness as a Type of Resistance


Resistance to therapy often mimics a resistance to living. This can appear as a chronic feeling of hopelessness about our life in general, our work, our willingness to make changes. These thoughts and feelings subjectively seem like they express reality. Yes, if we have undergone a significant loss, an illness, a financial crisis or other sudden or substantial change, then the feelings of loss and despair make sense. 

But in the absence of these kinds of life events and shifts, when we experience a chronic and deeply prolonged attitude of hopelessness, it can be a reflection of resistance. This is a resistance to change and movement, and to the anxiety that comes with altering our habitual standard stance in life. We can get too comfortable with our hopeless attitude and then we don’t have to do the consistent, hard work of making significant shifts in our ways of being. In therapy, we may repeatedly come into session with a stubborn hopelessness as an unconscious way of disarming the therapist and remaining in a muddle of stasis.

The therapist must stay out of that thick mud and confront the hopelessness as a defense against anxiety and fear of movement. Then the therapist can uncover what is really going on.

Recreating ourselves in life over and over is a way we experience the pulse of life, the challenge and inspiration. Change can start in little ways: a new activity, a different approach to our appearance, cooking a new dish, communicating differently with a mate. Movement allows our energy to stream throughout our body rather than become dormant and toxic. The key word is movement, the antidote to stasis.

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