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"You're not Good Enough" Noticing the Difference between Moving Through Resistance and Intellectual Aggression

In his very first teaching the Buddha told his friends a seemingly obvious truth, that "There is Suffering."  This truth is helpful in the sense that it puts us all on the same page, gives us all a foundation of shared experience, but the third Truth, which is equally important is that "There is a way out of suffering" and we are the ones who are empowered in every moment to make that happen.

Lately, I've been interested in all of the ways in which I create more stress and anxiety in my own life,  and I've begun to notice that it often stems from misunderstanding the difference between seeing an opportunity to "Move through Resistance" and  experiencing "Intellectual Aggression".

"Moving through Resistence" is simply the experience of noticing a difficult or unpleasant situation and willingly entering into it in order to diminish suffering or express joy, no strings attached.

Intellectual Agression is a bit more complicated and involves some self-centered thought arising in my mind, and conceptually  "challenging" me to take on a difficult task or project.   Usually this thought is born out of deeper feelings of guilt, shame or lack of self-worth, and it's only purpose is to destroy the spaciousness of experience and return the focus to "me", causing tons of suffering and not getting anything accomplished.   

My experience of Intellectual Aggression might be likened to being hammered by waves repeatedly on the beach, with no room to come up for air. In this situation I've found it most helpful to back off, get out of the water and see the waves for what they are, but usually I don't even realize that I'm in the water.  

The experience of noticing and moving through resistance is a little more like walking through the woods and coming upon a fork in the path -- one direction leads to my destination, but is filled with unpleasant sounds, fallen trees and bad odors, the other path is pleasant and sunny, but does not lead anywhere in particular.  Moving through Resistance involves taking the smelly path, even though it's going to stink.

The most helpful reminder in discerning which one is which has been asking myself "Is there a voice in my head egging me on right now?"

"A real Buddhist would take the more difficult path in the woods" or 

"If you really cared about your friend, you would disregard your own health and well-being in order to comfort them."

These are some examples of Intellectual Aggression that have SEVERELY Disempowered me from being more compassionate, creative and free in my life.     

The most stinging realization for me has been to notice all of instances in which I've begun to genuinely move through resistance, only to have Intellectual Aggression hijack the situation and turn it into an ego trip. 

Has anyone ever had this experience in asking someone on a date?  There's often feelings of awkwardness and self-doubt that arise, but my desire to make a genuine connection inspires me to take on the resistance.  I'll begin in an open and well-intentioned way, but halfway through a sentence about "what I do for a living" or "where I grew up" intellectual aggression rears it's ugly head and makes a mess of everything.  The conversation becomes very calculating and I begin to suppress those feelings of shame and self-doubt as opposed to giving them space.  The roots of intimacy become marred in Ego and the whole s#!t ball rolls downhill from there.

The difficult part comes when Intellectual Aggression is noticed, given space to dissipate, but "Moving through Resistance" still remains.  At this point there is nowhere for my ego to run, all the walls have fallen.  Moving into discomfort becomes the only option, because now my Intellectual Aggression has been dismissed by the Intellectual mind itself.  This is when I feel like I am out in space, with no safety points or guideposts to help me, but it is also the space where I am given the opportunity to really let go of my suffering and move more freely in the world --- if I am fearless enough to do so.

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Comments

As someone who's just

As someone who's just recently realizing how much of her drive towards spiritual practices grows out of perfectionist insecurities and lack of self worth... oh man, do I know that voice. It's like it's just another avenue to attempt to fix an inherently flawed nature, a chance to be real and in the moment with the entire mess of yourself is another challenge to prove that you can do things "right". It's a huge stumbling block for many people but it's a lot easier to notice in other areas of life, like career or appearance. I've found that most of the time I don't notice it in the moment... still working on cultivating that awareness.

- Andrea

excellent article.

excellent article.

(No subject)

Thanks, great article.

Thanks, great article.

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