Step 4: Understanding Your Resistance


So now, after these first three steps, you’re feeling good. You’re in the flow, having a good time, enjoying the people around you. And then, boom, you run into resistance. Your energy drops, you feel separate, small, invisible, powerless.

What just happened? Where did your attention go? An event or a thought occurred that caused you to doubt or to judge yourself. Look closely at what just happened. When you look, you may at first think that you are judging the circumstances or the people around you. However, if you look a little more closely, you will see the one you are judging or diminishing is yourself. You are thinking that you did or said something wrong. Or that there is something inherently wrong with you. Either you are “too much” or “not enough.”

Do not worry about this. Thoughts like these are not unusual. Just pay attention to what is going on within you. If you hit upon a diminishing thought – or maybe a better way to say this is, when a diminishing thought hits you – you respond. And your response will vary based on your personality. If you have the personality that often blames others when you feel diminished, you may lash out at those others. And if you have the personality that often blames yourself when you feel diminished, you may tear yourself apart. It doesn’t matter what your tendency may be, either way you are left feeling separate from the flow, from life.

Even though the expression of your pain may be different depending on your personality, your pain stems from the same root cause: having a misunderstanding of the truth of who you are, a misunderstanding of your value.


When we diminish ourselves or feel powerless, this is an indication we have run into resistance, what we call a “push.” The resistance we are experiencing is not necessarily a bad thing. This serves as a wake-up call, alerting us that we are drifting further and further away from our true self.

You resist life when you don’t have an understanding of the way through your situations and your feelings about those situations.

When diminishing thoughts surface, these can stop us in our tracks. However, once we have an understanding of what causes our resistance, what the pushes we feel are telling us, then the mystery of why our lives feel the way they do is solved. It may be easy to dismiss the process of understanding, believing it is not a tangible way to fix what we perceive is wrong, to feel better or to get what we want; yet, it is an enormous component to receiving your life.

Diminishing ourselves is a disempowering track that we often find ourselves on. We can recognize we’re on this track when we experience a push. Whenever we feel a push, there is always a “should” close by telling us who we should or shouldn’t be, what we should or shouldn’t do or what we should or shouldn’t want. Whenever we voice a “should” to ourselves, it is because we believe there is something wrong with the way we are, with what we’re doing or with what we want. If we didn’t have this thought we wouldn’t be feeling the corresponding “should.” You may be asking – Why do I believe that the way I am is wrong? Why would I ever come up with such a crazy notion?

It is not random that you are believing you should be someone other than who you are. There’s a very good reason for it. You’re trying to do the right thing. You’re trying to live within rules that you learned growing up, rules that were designed to protect you. These rules may have been spoken or unspoken.

This ”right” thing may have been to please people, gain their approval or it may have been the way you were taught to get what you want or to survive in the world. What is interesting, if you examine the rules that are attached to your “shoulds,” you’ll find they are often based on scarcity and may not even apply to you.

Once you realize you are describing yourself in a diminished way, ask yourself, “Is there a rule I am disobeying or thinking about disobeying?” The shame of breaking the rule causes us to diminish ourselves.

You can see how this leaves you in a conundrum. If you follow the rule, you may be selling out on yourself, but if you don’t follow the rule, you berate yourself for doing something wrong. No wonder we feel stuck and often feel we’re in a lose/lose position without a way through.




It is important to see the big difference between values and limiting beliefs. Quite often we give ourselves, or receive from others around us, what may seem to be values. However, when we look closely, these are not our values. Instead, these are beliefs that come to us for various reasons.

Of course, many of our beliefs are wonderful and quite expansive, and they support us in being our authentic selves. Yet sometimes beliefs are not expansive and are instead limiting. We hear and digest these limiting beliefs and then inaccurately believe that these are the truth of who we are, the truth about us and what we value. Most likely we heard such diminishing thoughts from people around us when we were growing up, people in authority. They often began with “you’re too …..,” or “you’re not enough ….. “

When you were younger you may have heard “Why don’t you have more friends?  You’re too much of a loner. You should go out and find more friends.” If your family valued being social, you may have believed that being social is also a value of yours and then came to the conclusion that you are too shy and need to be more outgoing. And yet, the truth may be that you’re an introvert and you enjoy spending time alone. It’s not true you’re too shy, rather what is true is you value time alone.

Chances are it never occurred to us to question these statements. Without exploring them we are left feeling that we somehow don’t measure up, that we should be different. This keeps us on the insatiable track of fix, fix, fix, change, change, change, better, better, better, more, more, more. We tell ourselves that’s how I’m going to get what I want. I’ll just keep trying to self-improve until I’m able do it the ”right” way. However, on that track we very often end up with a misunderstanding of our value, and we end up trying to fix something that is not broken.

When you have a misunderstanding of your value, you run into resistance and feel you can’t be, do or have what you want.

When we have an awareness of our own true values, we can more easily detect the presence of any limiting beliefs at work in us, on us, or around us. And with this awareness, we can stop taking the bait of limiting beliefs. We can stop allowing limiting beliefs to identify us in a way that lessens our value as human beings.                   

 LIMITING BELIEFS  are the opposite of your  VALUES


Step 4 Exercise consists of four parts which are briefly described below.


Step 4 Exercise, Part 1:

Review Pushes

This exercise begins with your pushes. Go back to your log, start a new page there, and write down your strongest pushes of the week. Use this list in this Step 4 Exercise.


Step 4 Exercise, Part 2:

Notice the Word ”Should”

Now read through your list of your pushes and think about each of these pushes. Listen to what your pushes are saying. Chances are that each of your pushes will either have the words “should” or “should not” in it, or will carry a should or should not meaning in it. These meanings may be something you tell yourself you should or shouldn’t have done, said, felt, or wanted. Basically, the message is that “I am doing something wrong or what I want is wrong.” You feel resistance because you’re not being honest with yourself.  You’re listening to the “shoulds” rather than your authentic self.

Start a column to the right of your list of pushes. For each push you list, write down the “should” or “should not” behind that push.


Step 4 Exercise, Part 3:

Discover Limiting Beliefs

In the first parts of this Step 4 Exercise, you have: (1) listed your pushes and (2) noticed the “shoulds” behind your pushes. Now, in part three of this Step 4 Exercise, it is time to see how you may have diminished yourself because you’re not being, doing or wanting what the”shoulds” are  telling you that you should be, do and want. Next to each “should,” write what you are saying about yourself as a result of the “should.” This is the limiting belief, the diminishing thought, you are using to describe yourself in the moment

For example, the “should” may be, “I should be able to handle this” and your reaction to the should may be “I am weak.” Or,“I shouldn’t have stayed so late at the party” and your reaction to the “should” may be “I am irresponsible.” 

This disempowering track that you are travelling on is not going to lead you to where you want to go. You may not even be aware that these “shoulds” are making decisions for you. These “shoulds” create an invisible barrier between you and your authentic self. We often think we have to shape our behavior to fit inside of these “shoulds.” We let these “shoulds” and  limiting beliefs define us, put a lid on all we can be, do and have.


Step 4 Exercise, Part 4:

Identify Unspoken Rules

The next thing to notice is why you would think the way you do. Why are you giving any credence to the “shoulds” and why are you allowing them to diminish you? The reason why is because there are rules, usually unspoken at this time but still in your head. You learned these rules when you were younger, or they could be a compilation of messages that you formed into a rule. It’s an inner message that you feel you ”should” be following and  you’re not. Or it is a message you are rebelling against and feel youshouldn’t be.

This is what you are resisting, you are resisting the rule. Some rules may be –  don’t rock the boat, other people’s needs are more important than mine, work before play, the one with the most toys wins, if someone asks you to do something you have to say yes, don’t disappoint people, other people have all the power, etc.

 Now read through your list of pushes, the “should” next to it and the limiting belief. Look at your list of “should”s and limiting beliefs and think about any unspoken rules that are part of these.

Start a new column next to the limiting beliefs you listed. In this new column, write down the rules that caused you to diminish yourself.  In this part of the exercise, what you are doing is telling yourself WHY you feel justified in diminishing yourself i.e. why I am a failure, why I am powerless, why I am irresponsible, why I am selfish, etc.  Notice how you are interpreting the rule to diminish yourself. 


Step Four

Understanding Your Resistance Example

Here are some examples of a push, a “should/shouldn’t”, a limiting belief and the rule you are disobeying or thinking about disobeying:

  • When Michael, with whom I am working on a project, didn’t return my phone call – I shouldn’t have to rely on other people – I AM NEEDY – “I am needy because” reveals the rule – needy people ask for too much.
  • Talking to my friend about her retirement plans – I should have planned my life better – I AM A FAILURE – “I am a failure because” reveals the rule – people who fail to plan, plan to fail.
  • Agreeing to be the treasurer of our club – I know bookkeeping so I should do it – I AM LAZY – “I am lazy because” reveals the rule – everyone has to carry their own weight.
  • Noticing a colleague’s hourly rate on his website – I should charge more for my services – I AM NOT VALUABLE – “I am not valuable because” reveals the rule – valuable people charge a lot for their services.
  • Not having the money to pay off my credit card bill this month – I should pay off my credit card every month – I AM FOOLISH – “I am foolish because” reveals the rule – people who pay credit card interest are foolish.
  • My boss scheduled a late afternoon meeting which may cause me to miss the bus – I shouldn’t say anything – I AM UNIMPORTANT – “I am unimportant because” reveals the rule – the boss is always right.
  • Hanging up my new clothes – I shouldn’t have bought new clothes – I AM IRRESPONSIBLE – “I am irresponsible because” reveals the rule – money doesn’t grow on trees.

Now list your rules next to your lists of pushes, “shoulds” and limiting beliefs in the format you see in the Exercise Chart on the following page.

Step 4

Understanding My Resistance Exercise Chart


   My Push                  The  Should       The Limiting Belief           The Rule

 (my resistance)


____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 

____________     ____________    ___________       ______________ 




It is how we handle these messages of limitation coming at us that can make a difference in our lives. It is important to know we resist rules when these are not true limitations for us. We may feel this going on inside ourselves, but may not realize what is happening. Without awareness, we use the rules to diminish ourselves. When we feel tense, anxious, depressed, confused, or pain of some sort, the pain we are feeling is the pain of having a misunderstanding of our value. Even though the pain can be highly uncomfortable, it is a good thing we feel resistance and feel the pain because it alerts us that we are on a track that is not based on the truth of who we are. The track of diminishing ourselves is not the track of a purposeful and satisfying life. 

The pain in your resistance is the pain of misunderstanding who you are

We do not feel this pain in our resistance because of a particular situation or issue, although it may appear to us that we do. We may think that a particular situation is what is causing our discomfort, however, the pain in our resistance runs deeper and is about much more. The pain comes from knowing, on some level, that we just sold out on ourselves

When you do feel a push, this is the wisdom within you alerting you that something is off. This push lets you know that, in that moment, you stepped out of harmony with your true self. This is why there is great wisdom in your pushes. If you listen, you will realize that

both your pushes and your pulls are always in the process of guiding you back to your true self. 




When we break or think about breaking a rule or an unspoken rule, we may, and often do, come to the conclusion that something is wrong with us. We did something wrong. We are less than.

Of course much or most of this is going on inside us subconsciously. When we really look at what is going on, when we shine the flashlight of awareness on the situation, when we look at it objectively and with grown up eyes, then we see more. We see our authentic selves trying to speak and to be

If you look closely at the rules you follow or think you should follow, and at how you interpret those rules for yourself, you will notice many of those rules go against your values. When these rules go against your values, you feel conflict, often deep inner conflict. However, rest assured there is always a way through.

The way through begins with understanding. The three step practice of understanding-compassion-forgiveness will help you get back on the path of receiving your life.