Star Trek fans may remember the Borg and their motto, “Resistance is futile.” This idea has become a pop-culture symbol for any overwhelming oppositional force determined to keep us from our goals.
We all have oppositional forces in our lives somewhere. More likely than not, however, they’re not as clear or as articulate as the Borg. Indeed, it’d be far easier to overcome the enemy that we could clearly see and name.
In a relational context, the voice of resistance is far more subtle. It’s the fear of intimacy that keeps you from fully enjoying the other. It’s the lack of confidence (toxic shame) that keeps you from pursuing or even hoping for change. It’s the loss of trust (hurt) that robs you of connection. The problem is that relationship struggles come in all forms from all directions, but resistance doesn’t have to be futile.
The first step in dealing with resistance is giving it a name. Most often that name is “fear”. Of intimacy? Of being seen? Of not being seen? Of change? Of loss? The Sufi poet Hafiz declares, “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. / I would like to see you living / in better conditions.” By giving your resistance a name, you can begin to pursue better living conditions.
Naming that your resistance to relationship is rooted in impaired fear, shame, or hurt allows us to begin to face our relational resistance head on and explore its roots.
• What parts of your story trigger the pain of judgement?
• How has that pain shaped your relational choices?
• How do you criticize yourself for having feelings or needs in a relationship?
It’s hard work at times, but not futile. Indeed, if you can face your resistance with curiosity and courage, you may very well find yourself in better living conditions.
Zach Brittle is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in Seattle, WA where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He is a Certified Gottman Therapist and author of the Relationship Alphabet. Follow him on Facebook at Zach Brittle, LMHC or on Twitter @kzbrittle.
If you having trouble overcoming your resistance to relationship, remember we’re here to help. Contact Sage Hill Counseling.