What You Resist Persists

What You Resist Persists

March 2, 2011 by

The late Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung is credited with the oft-quoted, “What you resist persists,” and it takes little imagination to see how true this prophetic punchline really is.

I’ve spent too much of my short life critiquing and criticizing what I don’t like and what I think needs to change. I’ve tried many times to use this “negativity” as a strength, but truth be told, I use it more to stoke the fires of frustration rather than channeling any of this ‘holy’ consternation.

We get what persists because the more we focus on what we don’t want or like, we usually end up running right to it. Is it just me, or does it seem like the more anti-campaigns there are, the larger the very thing being anti-fied becomes? From anti-war and anti-drug movements to anti-poverty and anti-abortion, the more we’re against something, the more warm we become to it. This doesn’t mean we support or condone it, but we may be giving too much credence and consideration to it.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been in meetings with clients, discussing what makes their organization or product unique. Far too often, the response is everything the organization or product is not, versus what it actually is. Well if it’s not that, what is it? Tell me what you’re for, not against.

Saying “no” to something doesn’t make it go away.

Instead of complaining or crusading against the way your church or the Church does something, how about investing that energy into creating an alternative future? Michelangelo is credited with articulating the antidote to the anti-movements: “Criticize by creating.”

I heard that Mother Theresa said she’d never march in an anti-war protest but she would happily march for pro-peace.

The next time you find yourself complaining about what is, ask yourself what the preferred picture should be and go after that. Pursue what you’re for, not against.

Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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4 Responses to “What You Resist Persists”

  • Chris
    March 4, 2011

    Very enlightening. It goes back to another old adage: The more you try to change something, the more it remains the same. But isn’t the reverse also true, that if we attempt to create change, it is the huge bureacracy itself that we have to contend with that prevents us from getting to our goals? Therefore, leaving that bureacracy behind us and setting out on our own may prove to be the only answer. Regarding the Church, however, does this become a viable alternative?

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  • Steve Martin
    March 5, 2011

    Great advice.

    I hope I can remember to heed it.


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  • Casey
    March 10, 2011

    Great post and something I’ve been wrestling with on a few levels. Thanks for calling out something that honestly should be pretty obvious. The next step becomes not only marketing the “pro” position but INCARNATING the “pro.”


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  • Robert Scott
    March 11, 2011

    Like not seeing the forest for the trees. It’s one of those things that is so obvious you can’t see it. And how many times have I remained in the rut of negativity? Thanks for the insight.

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