On Backlash and Resistance when Manifesting
I can recall a memory from many years ago when I was taking some time on a rainy afternoon to just be still and reflect on the changes I’ve made since beginning my journey. I felt a wave of gratitude wash over me as I pondered on how much I’ve evolved since I committed to my spiritual growth, and as I was recognizing these feelings I noticed a thought pop up in my mind.
“You know,” it said, “eventually something’s going to happen that’s gonna cause you to slip up and react terribly. So what then? You’ll wind up exactly where you were when you were miserable, and all of this will have been for nothing.”
Immediately after that thought finished there was another thought that came in with a different message. “No problem,” it said, completely unfazed. “That will just be an opportunity to explore where your ego is being challenged and what meaning you are giving to it.”
It was only a brief second, but I’ll never forget what a profound moment that was for me. A thought that would have certainly derailed me before was almost instantly neutralized by an inner awareness. This, for me, was proof in and of itself of the incredible progress I had made.
The other reason this moment was so profound is that it captures some of the fiercest battles we face internally while attempting to change our self-concept. This moment perfectly encapsulates that little thought, that little voice that tries to instill doubt and uncertainty and sometimes throws us off entirely.
But why does this happen? Why do we fight ourselves on this journey? Why, after we’ve seemingly made so much progress, does it seem that something comes along and tries to sabotage it?
If I could tell you one thing to help you on your path to becoming the very best version of yourself, it’s this: going backward is absolutely part of the process.
You’ve likely experienced this happen before, perhaps many times in the past. Things seem to be going well, you appear to be making great strides in your self-concept and feeling like you’re finally getting the hang of all this ‘manifesting’ stuff, when boom, something triggers you and you wind up falling back so fast it almost leaves whiplash.
I’m so familiar with this pattern now that I often warn coaching clients about it. Whenever you are making great progress, it happens often that you will find yourself going backward at some point, usually just when you’re most excited about how well you’re doing.
As unpleasant or sometimes alarming as this appears when it happens, this reaction is completely normal. This resistance when manifesting can feel all too overwhelming but is actually quite common. Nobody I have ever met just kept feeling they were making steady progress all the time without any kind of reaction, doubt, hesitation, recurrence of the same bad habits that they have always had, and so on and so on.
What is also normal at times is to have a very strong backlash after feeling everything has just gone particularly well… such as after a very inspiring meditation or SATS session. In fact, this event is so common there are names for it.
For example, in Buddhism, this is referred to as ‘the backlash of the departing ego’ or ‘ego backlash’ for short. This is fitting because, at the heart of it, the culprit is the ego.
When hearing the word “ego” most of us think of the work of the famous neurologist Sigmund Freud. But, interestingly, the word, “ego” does not appear anywhere in Freud’s extensive writings because he never used it. Rather, ego was a translation of what Freud called “das Ich”—literally translated from German to mean “the I.”
This is better known in the LOAssumption community as self-concept, but these terms can be used interchangeably. The ego is your identity, that sense of “self” we identify with. In other words, your ego is a construction of ideas and identities including a name, a personality, and a story. Within this personal story is a collection of memories, beliefs, ideas, and sensations about “who you are,” “where you came from,” “what you’re good and bad at,” “what you’ve experienced,” and on, and on, and on, ad infinitum. It’s the sum total of the thoughts, feelings, personality, worldview, and all that stuff that makes you uniquely you.
Ego is the false sense of self we’ve all come to believe and accept without question. To be clear, our true self is the “I am” and the ego is what comes after the “I am.” (i.e I am smart, I am dumb, I am pretty, I am chosen, I am unwanted, etc.)
The human ego prefers anything, just about anything, to falling, or changing, or dying. The ego is that part of you that loves the status quo–even when it’s not working. It attaches to past and present and fears the future.Richard Rohr
Essentially the ego has one main purpose above all else: to protect us. More specifically, its main function is to protect that sense of self. Its biggest job is self-preservation: to keep the sense of “I” in one piece and shielded from harm, and by harm, I mean anything that challenges that sense of “I”. So when we undergo a transformation and invite change into our lives, it’s perceived by the ego as a direct threat to the “self” and thus we begin to feel that familiar pushback better known as resistance.
In short, resistance when manifesting is just our ego fighting against the unfamiliar attempts of something new. Resistance can be super sneaky and present itself in many forms – anxiety, apprehension, insecurity, self-doubt, powerlessness, tension, illness, headaches, stomach aches, overwhelm, holding your breath, loss of control, and stress, to name a few.
Other times resistance is unconscious, hidden beneath the acts of forgetting things, distraction, procrastination, losing things, not following through, etc.
This is at the heart of why we experience these “backlashes”, so to speak. It’s simply a form of resistance, the symptom of the ego/self-concept/old man fighting back as a means to protect and preserve the status quo.
Understanding all of this is also the first and arguably most important step in dealing with resistance. We need to have this understanding so we know what’s going on when this occurs, so as to not get whipped up in a panic with what’s happening or question ourselves for “doing something wrong”. We all have the tendency to think that if we’re not continuously improving, we’re failing. This is not at all the case, and quite the opposite in fact. If it involves a change of self, we’re likely going to run into this resistance or backlash at some point.
Regardless of the underlying reasons or consciousness for a particular moment of resistance, the process of transformation is the same. First, recognize the presence of resistance. Don’t ignore, hide, or try to run from it. Assume it is present.
The next step in navigating these backlashes is to observe what the resistance is trying to tell you. Does it reveal awareness about your history? Does it illuminate the beliefs that are present about the world and what you believe is possible? What is the story that it is sharing with you?
To discover this more fully, ask this question:
If _______ were to happen (the desired activity where you have recognized the presence of resistance) then _____________ would also occur.
Take a few moments to fill in the blanks. You may have more than one answer to what the mind believes may occur.
For example, it may be that if you created greater financial abundance in your life, this aspect of resistance believes you will also have more responsibility. It may view responsibility as undesirable. It may even begin to reveal all the places it currently feels burdened by responsibility already.
Another example is relationships. It may be that if you manifested an old flame, this aspect of resistance believes history will repeat itself and you’ll get hurt. It may view this kind of vulnerability as undesirable and not worth the risk.
Some of these answers may seem familiar to you already. Other thoughts that arise may surprise you. You may even view them as foolish. Often the layers of consciousness of the mind and emotional system that resist something in life are not rational. They are, however, valid. Each layer of awareness allows the opportunity to begin to recognize what has been operating in the background all along. It may be as significant as to color your worldview, like a lens through which all aspects of creation are seen.
The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind-pattern. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist.Eckhart Tolle
Since we are all spiritual beings having a human experience, we are all learning how to embrace our creation as an expression of the creator (I AM), instead of identifying ourselves as the creation (self-concept). This implies we are learning how to navigate the world of Ceaser, which is slower and much more limited than the vastness of unconditioned consciousness. We are exploring how to be the creator while engaging with the 3D (our creation).
Understanding this is crucial if we’re to break away from this paradigm of “life” as we know it. If we can become aware of our true nature: I AM, Consciousness, or Awareness, we can escape the illusion of thinking we are the EXPRESSIONS of consciousness. We can break free from the self-confines that we created and that exist only by our own doing.
Ultimately, the way to loosen the grip of the ego is to see it for what it is: an illusion. We do this by first taking a critical, non-judgemental look at the “self” we’ve come to identify with.
Pay attention to what triggers and cause you to react so you can note where you need to focus your awareness. When you begin to do this more regularly, you begin to detach from those old stories. A sense of peace will begin to enter your decision-making.
Every time you experience significant growth, your ego will likely try to put up a fight. Once you learn that this is predictable, you can prepare for it. When prepared, you realize that it will rear its head and not take it so seriously when it does. Listen to the mental criticism to see if there’s something being overlooked or if you need to just turn the sound off altogether. With clarity, you can be matter-of-fact about knowing ego backlash is an inevitable part of the process of spiritual growth.
We must remember to be gentle with ourselves through this learning process. It takes time for awareness to become the normal state of being. The ego reigned for a long time, and it doesn’t go away immediately. That said, with mindfulness and objective observation, we begin to detach from those egoic thoughts.
It can feel like an arduous task, especially when we believe our ego is a natural and inherent part of who we are. However, through introspection, close observation, and redirection, detachment from that old sense of “self” is possible. When we take down our ego mask we come face-to-face with the realization that you, the real you, is limitless. It’s the observer, the animator, the wearer of all things. It’s the life that gives animation to all that is seen.
Connecting to this Awareness within is complete and total freedom; knowing that although we express all these identities here in the world of Caesar, we are infinitely superior to any of them. True power is understanding that we are never at the mercy of our creations. They are forever and always at our command.
The source of wisdom and power, love and beauty, is within ourselves, but not within our egos. It is within our consciousness. Indeed, its presence provides us with a conscious contrast, which enables us to speak of the ego as if it were something different and apart: it is the true Self, whereas the ego is only an illusion of the mind.Paul Brunton