“What you resist persists.” But what did Jung really mean by this?

The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung is noted for saying this. But what did he mean?

Jung was talking about his research into what he called, The Shadow. He found that patients who resisted aspects of themselves would have those aspects persist, or actually enlarge. This would draw much energy into the cycle of resistance – problem – more resistance – more problem. The constant resistance to aspects of self could fracture the psyche. His focus was to have the person be whole, rather than fragmented pieces or perfect.

This resistance typically begins with shame. For example, a child gets called “dumb”, feeling lots of shame. As an adult he then resists “dumb”, striving to be smart, perfect. It becomes exhausting to run from any chance of being dumb. For example, maybe he’s always wanted to write a book, but so afraid he could say something anyone would think is “dumb”, so he never writes, ever. The more he resists, the more the pain persists. Oddly, he’ll be plagued by random occasions of really “dumb” things, more shames, more striving for perfection. Ever had this happen to you?

Resisting means hiding, denying, or covering up. The healing is to truly embrace being “dumb” and the gift in it. This is what I’d call Radical Love. We see this in a great comedian who embraces being “dumb” and turns it into art. Think of Ben Stiller. Here’s a guy that really embraces being “dumb” and we also see he is incredibly smart too. The nature of our dualistic existence means that if you are one, you are the other. So get excited embracing your shadow, there’s tremendous Light to be revealed on this journey!

Stay tuned and we’ll go on this journey of Radical Love over the next few weeks. An amazing gift is that when you love ALL of you in this radical way, you naturally start to love others and they love you.

For now, consider what you are resisting about yourself. Where do you think you are supposed to be perfect? Where do you beat yourself up? Consider what you are hiding about you or ashamed of? This is the first step in loving you completely. More to come…

(If you’ve got questions, please leave a comment or email me.)


5 responses to ““What you resist persists.” But what did Jung really mean by this?”

  1. Hi, Just saw the mistake here that Carl Jung to be Swedish.
    Check again: \… Swiss psychiatrist\
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung

  2. Hi, Just saw the mistake here that Carl Jung to be Swedish.
    Check again: “… Swiss psychiatrist”
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung

  3. Thanks! Corrected and funny how my fingers don’t always type what my brain is thinking.

  4. Where is this Carl Jung quote from? I would like to read it in its full context.

    1. Eugene Gaudet Avatar
      Eugene Gaudet

      Did you ever find the original quote? I cannot find it anywhere.

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