112) From Shitty-ness to Well-ness, Part 6: Backlash, resistance, and dissociation

Why am I making such a big deal about Backlash & resistance?  

It’s because resistance, learning to feel into it, to approach it and eventually learn from it and harness it, IS much of the healing path.  If you want to heal, or “grow” as a person, then you are working with resistance.  Inevitably.  You are, as I alluded to earlier, learning to befriend Backlash; it has things to teach you.

Plus — and this is a big one — the experience of resistance, the way it functions in our psyche, relies heavily on processes of dissociation, whereby the person’s self-awareness is interrupted or considerably reduced, such that their behaviour is not well-guided by conscious intention (if at all).

Therefore, if healing means working with resistance, then it means learning to better regulate dissociation.  And THAT, goes very, very deep into your consciousness, like right to the root.  So, working with dissociation is the Mother Lode of healing.  I think so anyway. 

Let’s be clear about this though.  I don’t mean “dissociation” in merely its extreme manifestation, as when the person is completely gapped out, disconnected, totally unaware, or out-of-body.  No, I mean dissociation more inclusively, to represent the continuum of experiences whereby our consciousness is “interrupted” somehow so that our conscious awareness is muted.

For example, a minor-league version of dissociation happens when you procrastinate.  There you are, all fired up to Do The Thing that you’ve been putting off.  You’ve made up your mind; today is the day, aaaaand here you go!  

………………. um……………..

And then you’re in the fridge, or doing Wordle, or checking Facebook “just for a second”, or checking email, or you decided you need to clear your head and go for a walk, or smoke a joint, or maybe you really should make a grocery list, clean out your closet and fold all your underwear….

So, what happened?  Well, at some point, across some passage of time, you went from Mode A: “Doing The Thing”, to Mode B: “Doing Anything Else”, and your totally-convinced, totally-motivated mind in Mode A just….disappeared.  Poof.  Now you’re in Mode B and you know full well you ain’t Doing The Thing today.  Somewhere in there, you dissociated, gapped out, let your mind get taken over by some automatized subroutine in your unconscious programming, and you effectively lost control of yourself. 

Then, of course, after a little while, for at least a moment, “You” come back.  In fact, there are lots of little moments in which “You” appear, like a drowning person sticking their head up above the waves again.  “Help!”

For example, when you’re starting down the path to procrastination, there are many moments in which you stop and say to yourself, “Dammit, I really should Do The Thing.  I said I was going to….”  And then…….yeah, well, you know how this story turns out.

But this is important.  It’s important to recognize that “You” have multiple parts, multiple awarenesses, multiple “consciousnesses”, multiple wills, multiple selves, even.  You have parts/selves that are wiser, and parts that are more foolish.  Parts that are grounded and stable, and parts that are unstable and volatile. 

In the example of procrastination, your wiser self (or maybe it’s your motivated, goal-striving self) knows that Doing The Thing is the right thing to do, and has convinced itself that it WANTS to do that thing.  It will feel a sense of self-integrity, authenticity, if it follows through on its intentions.   

But then there’s a bunch of other selves.  And they say, “Fuck Doing The Thing; I want to Do a Different Thing.”  

As you encounter these different selves inside you, and get to know them better, you will be making great strides towards getting a handle on yourself, including being able to manage, and overcome, your resistance. 

But at least as important, and much subtler and easy to miss, is the switching-between.  As you get more attuned to the switching-between the different selves/parts inside of your psyche, and then as you get more skilled at intentionally initiating and guiding this switching-between, you will be gaining something truly life changing.

Learning to intentionally switch between your self-parts is the “wax on, wax off” base skill of learning to gain mastery over dissociation.  And therefore, it is key to overcoming resistance, and finally, Healing.

* * * * *

In order to learn this skill, you have to get right into the heart of your trauma-programmed responses to life.  You have to get face to face with your Self.  Not merely your cognitive, thinking self, like cognitive-behavioural therapy is so good at helping us uncover and challenge.  But as we’ll explore in upcoming sections, you will be getting more attuned to your full, implicit, subtle, embodied self, all the parts, all the little selves inside you, and importantly, how they manifest, how they register, in your body. 

You will, in essence, be developing a more intimate relationship, with yourself.  

This work is not, predominantly, about “understanding” these parts that comprise your full Self, although that’s part of it.  It’s not about challenging them or trying to change them.  It’s certainly not about trying to get rid of certain parts, in order to favour other parts!

It’s about becoming friends with all your parts.  Accepting them, having compassion for them, listening to them, and helping them get their own needs met.  

In short, it’s about self-acceptance, and self-compassion, grounded in open self-awareness.  

THAT is the true foundation for healing, the launching pad that will finally get your “self-improvement” efforts off the ground.  

Because I believe you, me, and all of us, have the innate creative genius and potential, to shoot for the stars.

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