Resistance Causes Persistence

You can either be with your feelings … or turn to Ida Rolph

Perhaps you’ll permit me to expand a little more on the theory behind the article “It’s OK to Mope.” Especially since some of us are doing such deep clearing work round about now.

Some of us have grown up thinking that we need to resist our unwanted feelings. We may have been taught as children to control ourselves, be restrained, not give way to emotion, etc.

The Victorian generation, which I studied as a young historian many years ago, believed that we grew by suppression.

My generation at the time I was studying history was all about creative expression (letting it all hang out, etc.), but the Victorian generation was all about creative repression.

Their medical theories said that the body was a fixed energy system so that if we expressed our emotions, we’d bleed off energy from somewhere else in our bodies and therefore we’d faint, get hysterical, or break down completely as a functioning being.

So Victorian women, for instance, were often represented in novels as fainting when a really strapping fellow walked into the room. The sudden upwelling of emotion would allegedly do them in.

That was exactly the opposite of the theories of the 1960s, the Age of Aquarius or first New Age, so to speak.

Some people retained Victorian ideas. Others carried Sixties ideas to their logical conclusion and got so far into creative expression that marriages broke down under the “Free Love” ethic (my first marriage included) and we began the long, slow journey back to the middle again.

Meanwhile some wise thinkers like Werner Erhard (1) were having us see that what we resisted persisted. Resistance caused persistence. If we refused to experience our sorrow, or shame, or moping, but resisted them instead, those unwanted conditions would stick around forever.

Therefore if we wanted an unwanted condition to disappear, we had to experience it through to its natural completion. We had to sit with it like a brick in our lap. We had to put in place of what was there what was there, not something else. We had to be where we were, rather than covering it up, denying, excusing and justifying, putting on a happy face, pretending, making believe, etc.

It isn’t pleasant to allow feelings like sorrow, shame, humiliation, fear, etc., to play upon us without messing with them, to experience them through to completion. It’s like being served a sandwich on stale bread. What’s to like about such bitter medicine?

But it does result in the unwanted condition completing itself, releasing its grip, and disappearing. If that unwanted condition has become a vasana, or deep-rooted reaction pattern founded in some earlier traumatic incident, then the way to get at the roots of it and have it work its way through our system is again to let it be when it’s up, let it play itself out in our system, and then allow it to go of its own natural timing and volition. That was both good news and bad news.

So I don’t recommend hiding from unwanted emotions, bottling them up, resisting them or any of a hundred ways we have of keeping them around year after year. I do recommend feeling them, experiencing them, hearing their message, getting their flavor and taste, and being with them no matter how unpleasant that experience may be. I’m convinced that it’s one of the best ways of completing our unwanted conditions and experiences.

There are other ways. We can give them to the angels. We can rolph (1) them out of ourselves. We can do bioenergetics, scream into a pillow, tell the truth until it hurts, etc. But whatever way we choose, I think it’ll always remain a vital component of at least maintaining our emotional health to allow the unpleasant and incompleted experiences to play themselves out within us without resisting them – if we want to stay free of them.

So that is some of the background to such an incongruous-sounding piece of advice as to let yourself mope if you feel like moping.


(1) See

(2) A form of deep fascia massage, named after its developer, Ida Rolph. Rolphing can be quite painful.

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