How To Overcome Your Inner Resistance Towards a Healthy Change - How To Win a Man's Heart

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August 11, 2014

How To Overcome Your Inner Resistance Towards a Healthy Change

A Story About Resistance

Five months into my relationship with my now-husband, I flaked and tried to bail. It was a textbook ego-resistance move. I knew this relationship was for real and I got scared. Or, I should say, my ego knew it was for real and got scared for her little ego life. Ego knew she was facing extinction in her favorite playground—relationships. So as egos do, she cashed in with one huge last-ditch effort.

Hubby (then boyfriend) and I were having breakfast at Village Deli in Bloomington. They have the best breakfast. I had blueberry pancakes and he had an omelet. We were discussing a visit to go see his family for the following weekend. Most of the plans had been made, but we were talking about the details over breakfast. It would be the first time I would be meeting his family and there was a lot of hype about our trip.

He was a little nervous, but excited to take me home. He was really cute, doing and saying everything right, giving me the low-down on everyone I’d meet, and reassuring me that they’d love me. I couldn’t hear the great things he was saying because of one phrase that kept screaming in my head.

“It’s too much. It’s too much. I can’t handle this right now.”

Not “It’s wrong,” (it wasn’t). Not, “He’s not right for you,” (he clearly was). Just, “It’s too much.”

It was too much.

The relationship was too supportive, too healthy. I had too much to lose. I felt too vulnerable. He was too kind and he made it feel too simple. All of those “too much” fears slammed up against my deeply held beliefs like, “Relationships are hard,” “If it seems too good to be true, it is,” and “This isn’t the way relationships work for me.”

This relationship felt so good but also was so completely foreign that I couldn’t see straight. One moment I’d thank my lucky stars and relax into appreciating what had come my way, and the next I’d deny that it was possible and totally convince myself that he wasn’t for real. I knew he’d do something to show his true colors, eventually.

I had never seen a relationship like this one, let alone actually been in one. I knew power struggles and fighting. I believed that relationships either end after the honeymoon period or both parties eventually settle for much less than what they really want. Other than relationships on television shows, I literally never, ever saw it any other way.

I usually fell for married men. They had something to lose, and I reasoned that if they wanted to be with me, it meant I was worth taking a risk for. I set it up so that only unavailable men could prove they cared. Nothing short of risking a marriage registered with me as genuine caring.

I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop; in constant fear that as soon as I got comfortable in a relationship something would abruptly change. That was my pattern—it was how I spent my childhood, always on guard against the next life-changing event that I couldn’t control. I couldn’t let myself get comfortable or I’d really end up screwed.

And man, I could spin anything into a problem. He told me he loved me too soon…must mean he’s needy. He wasn’t a jealous jerk when I’d go out with girlfriends or talk about my male friends…must mean he doesn’t care enough. If you look for a problem, you’ll find one.

Despite all that I had been through in previous relationships, my inner voice urged me all along that this relationship was the real thing. From the beginning, it felt guided. Things fell into place easily and effortlessly. As much as my ego wanted to discount all of that, I couldn’t completely quiet the still, small voice. So that morning at Village Deli, my ego hit its tipping point. It freaked the hell out that I might actually end up in an easy relationship with a nice, available guy.

The “This is too much, I can’t handle this right now,” that was echoing in my head drove me to cry all over my blueberry pancakes. I spent most of breakfast in the bathroom while my boyfriend sat at the table, stunned and clueless. One minute we were talking about what to pack for our trip, and the next minute I was saying, “I can’t do this.”

He drove me home. I remember sitting in his car in front of my house, and him, shell-shocked, asking, “Do you want to break up?” I said I didn’t know. I really didn’t. I had no idea. He was on his way to work a twelve-hour shift and would come over that night if I wanted him to. I decided I had twelve hours to get my act together.

I told myself I would not put this innocent guy through my crap—I was going to give him an answer in twelve hours, either way. He didn’t come from divorce, guilt trips, and serial monogamy like I had. He didn’t understand why I was making the situation so hard. He didn’t understand that hard was familiar, so in many ways hard was easy for me.

The clock was ticking so I went straight to the spiritual masters for guidance. Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love was up first. It had saved me before and I had faith it could save me again. I re-read all my highlighted sections. I hit my knees and prayed, just like the book prescribed. I meditated. I cried. I got seriously pissed at my ego which was taunting me the whole time: “You knew this day would come. It’s inevitable. Just walk away, normal relationships aren’t for you.”

Finally, I threw in the towel. On my knees, I handed it all over to whatever power was bigger than ego. I totally surrendered and begged for a miracle.

Then I took a long nap.

I woke up feeling more peaceful, but still not sure of what to do. The ego voice had quieted some. I asked that Spirit trump ego and continue to guide me. That seemed to be happening, given the relatively quiet state of my ego. In peace, I sat and listened. Doing nothing felt extremely awkward and like a giant waste of time, but I did it anyway. I sat on my bed and just listened.

I thought of my former therapist, a man whom I adored. I suddenly remembered some advice he once gave me. We were talking about my tendency to get bored in relationships when the guy is available. Give me a man I couldn’t have and I’d never get bored; but one with an open calendar and I had the urge to run after few months. My therapist suggested that the next time I feel the urge to bolt, I stick around a little longer. Even though it wouldn’t feel natural, he suggested that I commit to hanging out for another week or another month in order to break through that sticking point and see what was on the other side.

That was it. Although the solution to my momentous problem—the way that conversation just drifted into my mind—seemed much too random and unmonumental that was the miracle I needed. I didn’t need a bolt of lightning or an earth shattering realization. I simply needed to remember an old conversation.

So I decided to do nothing about my relationship. When the “It’s too much” ego voice piped up, I ask for Spirit to guide me instead of ego. I’d acknowledge that ego voice and keep hanging on, in spite of it. I chose to trust that if this really wasn’t the relationship for me, I’d know that with clarity. I wouldn’t leave out of fear. If I was going to leave someday it would be out of love, with the clear knowledge that something better was waiting.

I’d wait it out because I believed my therapist and Marianne Williamson and every other source I trusted in the world were all saying the same thing: this was nothing more than ego resistance. Ego had no place in this relationship and was afraid of its extinction. Ego was fighting for its life.

What I really want you to understand is that sticking it out didn’t suddenly feel easy or like freedom. The choice was clear, but the daily action was not easy. Ego didn’t vanish, I simply chose to hear it and continue on in spite of it. I stopped listening to its warnings and obeying its commands, but they didn’t go away. The decision to stick it out was nothing more than a series of choices. I decided what I wanted to do and then did it even when ego was screaming at me to run.


That night, when he came over I came clean. I confessed everything, but I continued to vacillate between moments of comfort and moments of sheer panic, having the urge to run and, oddly enough, missing the familiar feeling of being alone. I did meet his family that weekend and although my ego was still trying to crash the party, I also felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I continued to own up to my fears regularly throughout our entire relationship. Exposing the ego is the fastest way to shut it down. It’s like pouring water on a fire.

He helped me, too. This kind, logical man from an intact family wasn’t about to let me give into ego and ruin what we had and he told me so. He was willing to help me see through ego’s crap. He demanded it, actually. And yes, we are living happily ever after.

But if I had let ego run the show that morning I wouldn’t have spent the last eight years with this man who is not perfect—but perfect for me. Instead, I asked for a miracle and I got it. Then I did the work every day after that to continue making the choice I knew was right—even when it didn’t feel like the easy choice—until one day it was the easy choice.

Excerpt from Modern Enlightenment: Psychological, Spiritual, and Practical Ideas for a Better Life by Dr. Amy Johnson and printed with permission.

About the author

Dr. Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson is a coach and speaker who helps people have a more joyful experience of life. She is the author of two books, Being Human: Essays on Thoughtmares, Bouncing Back, and Your True Nature and Modern Enlightenment: Psychological, Spiritual, and Practical Ideas for a Better Life.

Amy is currently writing a book about the ending unwanted habits using the latest thinking in neuroscience and spirituality, which will be published in December 2015.

To know more about Amy, visit her website