Working Doesn’t Work

I read a book called Working on Your Marriage Doesn’t Work when I was in the midst of my divorce.  It didn’t save my marriage, but it helped.  From the book, I got the following maxim:

what you resist, persists.

In other words, the harder you fight something, the more energy you give it, and the bigger it gets.  So, for example.  If you’re obsessed with losing weight and the inner dialogue goes like “I really should give up cheese,” or “I’m not going to eat sweets,” you’re keeping both cheese and sweets in the forefront of your mind.  And then, because you’ve been thinking about them and resisting the want, when you’re confronted with them, you put them in your mouth anyway because you’re so sick of fighting.  Well, the truth is that there was neither cheese nor sugar at your desk, but you spent all that time when the problem wasn’t even in front of you to solve fighting, and fighting valiantly   No wonder you’re tired when you get to the temptation.  You’ve committed all of your energy to those two objects which, had you been focused on something else, you might have never noticed.

There was a Fiona Apple interview on NPR when she says, and I paraphrase: I’ve given up.  Not the bad kind of giving up, but the good kind.  I’ve given up on expectations, on being mad when things don’t turn out the way I wanted them to.

So, to myself as much as to anyone else, I offer the following benediction:  you have permission to give up.  You have permission to quit fighting.  Let those demons do their own thing unsupervised while you start doing what you can from where you are.  Let’s face it.  The demons are only there because you pay attention to them.  Like your intuition, if you ignore them for long enough, they’ll go away.

Working Doesn’t Work

One thought on “Working Doesn’t Work

  1. Their next book offers these three ideas to chew on:

    1) What you resist persists and grows stronger.
    2) You can only be exactly as you are in the moment.
    3) Anything you allow to be exactly as it is completes itself.

    I’m going to have to contemplate that for a minute or two.


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