"What You Resist, Persists" by Carl Jung, A Perspective

Recently, my friend Jean caught a debilitating cold. Per doctor’s orders, she was placed on bed rest for several days. Eventually, she recovered. Jean may catch another cold, but probably not the exact same one she just experienced. Why? Because her body is now immune to the particular virus that caused her cold.  Jean’s cold inspired me to reflect on a popular quote by Carl Jung, “What you resist, persists.” Let’s discuss….

Road of Trials

According to Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, the hero must embark on the Road of Trials. Trials are tests the hero must go through to earn transformation. There’s usually tension and suffering. Each step along the journey increases in difficulty until the goal is attained. The hero must do inner work and discover areas where he/she is stuck and need healing and growth. If the hero resists the trials or refuses to learn from mistakes, then the tests will persist and repeat itself in different forms until the lesson is learned.

Learning From Mistakes Is Like Recovering From a Cold

When we catch a cold, our body realizes a ‘problem’ exists. Not only does our immune system work to rid itself of the virus, but it also develops antibodies which may prevent the same cold from happening twice. 

Learning from mistakes is like recovering from a cold. The consequences of an error can leave us emotionally and physically weak. If we resist the reality that we made a mistake, then the pain persists. When we learn from our mistakes, we create mental ‘antibodies’ which gives us tools to make better choices. Ideally, we would not make the same mistake twice. However, we are human. Some tests are difficult to learn and require multiple iterations before we understand what we are doing wrong. Be patient.

To Get it Together, First Fall Apart

The flip side of “What you resist, persists” could be “What you face, gives grace.” In order to recover from her cold, Jean was on bed rest for several days. Likewise, we need time to emotionally process the aftermath of unfavorable consequences. Scream. Yell. Cry. Grieve. Listen to sad songs. Write or read poetry. Go dancing. Take a trip. Meditate. Ask for help. Reflect on what happened and why. Take the necessary time needed to connect with your inner pain. Resisting the pain, delays learning the lesson.

Life is a Learning Experience

At birth, we had limited skills. Whatever you are able to do now, you had to learn how to do it. Be gentle with yourself as you learn from mistakes. Constantly forgive. 

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Copyright, 2019


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