Learning to Surrender and Let Go of Resistance

September 18, 2015 12:46 pm

‘Pain x Resistance = Suffering’

I first became aware of this quote in Echart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. I didn’t fully understand what it mean’t when I first read it and, to be honest, it made me a bit cross.

At the time, I was suffering intensely and in the depths of some of my darkest days with ME. The way I saw it was that I was experiencing such intense physical pain and excruciating exhaustion, how could I not suffer? How could removing resistance get rid of my suffering?

My thoughts on this now, are that perhaps removing resistance won’t completely eradicate suffering, but if you can find a way to loosen your grip on how you think things ‘should’ be, and the story you tell yourself around how much you don’t want whatever is going on for you right now, it will definitely reduce it.

There is a way to find peace with wherever you are at right now.

As I reflect on the concept of resistance and suffering, I realise so clearly that a lot of my suffering over the years, has been caused by resistance. Fierce resistance. Resistance to so many things that come up as a result of long term illness.

The pain. The loss of control over what’s happening in the body. Symptoms. Emotions ~ (oh how very often have I said to myself ‘you should be being more positive/less anxious/stronger…’ and tried to resist what I am actually feeling.) That pressure. That inner pressure on myself.

Much of the resistance, with me personally, has been fuelled by a strong underlying achiever pattern. A limiting belief that I’m no use unless I’m out there in the world doing stuff. Achieving things. Working. Being the bright cheery healthy version of myself.

For such a long time I defined myself and my worth by how much I could do and ending up in a position where I was unable to do anything at all for such a long time, challenged this belief on so many levels. I truly believe that illness comes to teach us things, to make us address the shadow parts of ourselves, and for me, this has been one of my own challenges. To learn that actually, I’m enough. Just as I am. Well or unwell. Achieving or not achieving.

Of course I don’t like illness, or bad days, or feeling restricted and unable to live the life I would choose to if I was fully well. But by surrendering to what is happening in each moment, however that moment looks, has helped me reach a much deeper place of inner peace. Feeling peaceful, is much more pleasant than being stuck in resistance to something we can’t immediately change!

I don’t want to paint myself as some sort of zen like woman here who floats through life all calmly, because I still get upset and frustrated at times! Of course I do. But the huge difference these days? Awareness. I see the bigger picture more easily and allow feelings to come and go knowing that everything passes eventually.

I don’t resist so much.

If I feel upset, I let the tears come. Without adding a layer of resistance to those tears.

If I feel frustrated? I acknowledge that I’m human. That it’s okay to be frustrated with being poorly (and just life sometimes!) I feel the frustration, and allow it, and then do my best to express it, perhaps through writing or just being with it for a little while…rather than beating myself up.

Bad days pass, life is fluid and nothing stays the same forever. Knowing this brings so much comfort.

I am having a bit of a setback at the moment, after some unexpected stressful events last week that lead to my overdoing it. But as I rest here, I remember the wonderful ‘Pain x Resistance = Suffering’ equation and it reminds me to stay present. That the crushing exhaustion and the unpleasant symptoms aren’t nice, but by surrendering to them and allowing my body to rest peacefully, I am allowing healing to occur.

And it feels better.

Letting go, feels so much better than holding on so tightly.


Hope you are being kind to yourself this week and that this post reminds you to let go a little too…





Little peep into my week as I allow myself to rest.

Lots of sleep, a cosy blanket, yoga mag and of course my bunny Ralph…



  • Mother says:

    Beautiful Emma! I am so pleased that you are nurturing yourself rather than resisting. a reminder to us all of the importance of taking the pressure off and doing what we can to relax the mind and body to encourage peace and healing.
    Love always xxxx

  • Lorraine says:

    Thank you Emma,
    So timely and helpful for me. Just having a really hard time letting go of the resistance, especially around letting emotions flow.

  • Consciously Healthy says:

    Lorraine, it’s an ongoing journey, for us all I think.

    Awareness is the first step. Don’t give yourself a hard time for the resistance being there (that’s something that I find often adds another layer!)

    So many of us are in the habit of squashing emotions down.

    Healing begins when we start to realise this…and it sounds like you are.

    Lots of love x

  • Niamh says:

    This is all so true and so timely for me too! I have probably multiplied my pain by ten times over the years by telling myself that I shouldn’t be feeling the way I was and trying to control, control, control. I still do this from time to time (!) but each time I get broken down by my recurring illness, I try to surrender to it more. There is nothing more humbling than long-term illness – it’s a great teacher, as much as I curse it sometimes!

  • Emma ~ Consciously Healthy says:

    Ahh Niamh, just as you could relate to my words, I can relate to yours!

    Recurring / long term illness literally forces us to let go of control doesn’t it and makes us learn SO many lessons. Whether we want to or not!

    It really is an ongoing thing for me, sometimes I can surrender more easily than others. But what I do know, is that when I manage to get into that space, is often when the biggest shifts come.

    Glad you got something from this post lovely lady x

  • Tamara says:

    Thank you Emma. I’m so happy I found your blog.
    So much of what you say in many of the posts you have written I can relate to so deeply.

  • Emma ~ Consciously Healthy says:

    I’m so glad you found my blog too Tamara. Having people like you here is the exact reason I write it and comments like the one you have written mean so much to me. Thank you <3 Emma x x

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