The Path of Least Resistance Starts with Knowing What’s Yours

I have three sons. My middle son – let’s call him Willy – loves to sing. He’ll drop a few bars any time, anywhere. My oldest son – we’ll call him Nick – isn’t a fan of the singing. Most arguments between the two boys can be traced back to how Nick feels about Willy’s singing and my refereeing services are inevitably required to mediate. Recently, an argument over Willy’s singing morphed into an all out physical brawl and I realized it was time to approach the problem from a new angle.

Control is a byproduct, not the goal.

Previously, I’d focused on Nick developing tolerance towards Willy’s singing and Willy developing restraint regarding how frequently he sings. They both needed to exact some control over their behavior. While this seems a reasonable compromise, it clearly wasn’t working and here is why:

This compromise didn’t address the two underlying issues –

1. How Nick feels about Willy’s singing and 2. How Willy feels about Nick’s attempts to stop him from singing.

See, even if Nick learns to control his requests for Willy to stop singing, he still doesn’t like when Willy sings. And even if Willy learns to control the frequency with which he sings, he still doesn’t like that Nick wants him to stop singing. What they’re doing and how they’re feeling about their actions are in conflict with one another.

These feelings create an underlying tension between the boys, so even when they’re exercising self control and appear to be getting along, resentment is brewing under the surface. Resentment that, over time, will fester and eventually erupt into an all out brawl. {Hello.}

A push will be met with resistance.

What I opened the boys’ eyes to after this last melee were two basic truths:

1. Nick’s problem isn’t Willy’s singing, but, rather, his own reaction to Willy’s singing. Singing is not inherently a bad thing. It’s a form of human expression. It’s one of the ways in which Willy makes himself heard and that is a good thing.

I instructed Nick to take a look inside himself and figure out why he is so annoyed by Willy’s singing. I offered up the possibility that Nick likes to feel in control of his surroundings and perhaps his inability to control Willy’s singing is what bothers him more than the act itself. Whatever the true source of Nick’s discontent, until he acknowledges it, outside help from me will be of no value and the fighting will continue.

2. Any attempt to control Willy’s self expression will be met with resistance. As humans, we are inherently free, so when anyone tries to impose limits on our freedom, we are inclined to resist. Willy has expressed this inclination through increased singing.

If {when} Nick takes ownership of his role in the problem, his blind disdain for Willy’s singing will wane, enabling him to discern if {when} Willy’s singing is truly an offensive noise or whether he’s just experiencing his own desire for control. Once Willy feels the assault on his freedom has relented, he will soften and become more amenable to Nick’s requests for quiet. As the underlying tension between the two dissipates, their relationship begins to reflect genuine harmony instead of the false one imposed by their attempts at self control.

As a parent, it’s tempting to dictate how my boys should regard each other to quickly restore order, except, as with all things parental, the quick fix is always at the expense of long term peace. The end result isn’t as important as the process by which we get there.

Pushing, forcing or attempting to control yourself {or others} will only evoke resistance. But, when you release your grip on what you believe should be and reflect internally on what actually is, you’ll discover the path of least resistance.

And so it goes with the body…

Whether you’re trying to overcome tight hamstrings, a lack of menisci, being Downward Facing Dog challenged or chronic computer slump posture, how you approach the problem is key to achieving a long term solution. You can’t walk the path to creating change until you know where you’re starting from and that requires looking inward. In short – You can’t Rock What’s Yours until you know what’s yours.

Here are some questions to get you going, feel free to come up with your own:

• How often do you move your knees through their full range?
• What do you think about when moving from one Yoga asana to the next?
• How often do you hold your breath during the day?
• Which muscles tense up when life gets stressful?

You can employ a highly skilled personal trainer, chiropractor, Pilates instructor, massage therapist and/or orthopedic surgeon, but the sole responsibility of your long term joint, muscle and organ health lies within you. It’s time to ask yourself:

What am I noticing right now?


Need help jumpstarting your daily awareness?

If you’d like a daily prompt, encouraging you to notice what’s going on with your body, Follow Me on Twitter.


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