Embracing Resistance: The Third Force

Jun 28, 2017


You may be surprised to know that embracing resistance can be life-changing.

When two forces are present, something magical happens. There then is a possibility of a third force coming in to allow ease and grace.

Newton’s third law of motion comes to mind which states that for every action there is an equal and opposing action. We, however, can apply our own intentional resistance and have a desired outcome.  Take steering a boat, for example, where we use a rudder to push against the current to go in a desired direction. If we don’t guide the boat, it is under the influence of forces that take it in a certain direction. It is true there are variable forces present to make the boat move, but for our purposes, bringing in another opposing force changes everything.

The first force necessary can be seen as affirming or active and the second force is passive, denying or receptive. Both must be present for the third force, known as the reconciling force, to occur.

If we look at these forces in terms of our own transformation, we can use them to bring about change within. You can see this with your own inner struggle when there is the yes and the no present in any given situation. If you are able to stay with that yes and no simultaneously through power of attention and presence, something else happens.

You may be wondering which is the active force and which is passive force in any given situation so let me give you an example.

Say you have a flat tire. You can have a lot of angst over having to change the tire and being late, but if you apply the opposing force of accepting the situation, things become easier. Because we have applied our own intentional inner friction, something can come in from the outside and relieve the situation a bit. The more we can accept, the easier things get even though the situation hasn’t really changed at all.

Self-observation can also be used as an opposing force in which you watch a negative state instead of trying to get rid of it. Let’s face it, negative states can be hard to shake. When you linger in thoughts like why someone said what they did or how you are going to get even, you rest in the energy of identification with thought. This is a far cry from being present which does not reside in thought whatsoever.

If you can stay present by maintaining sensation in your body and your attention on all aspects of the state, you will create intentional friction. You don’t try and get rid of the negativity or make things better. You stay and observe. In doing so, you create an opposition that doesn’t fight it but accepts it. This is how you see more and with that understanding, the state melts away. That understanding is the third force and neutralizes the state.

Looking at these three forces and how they work can be called the law of three and is represented by the triangle in the enneagram figure. In any given process, something must come in from the outside for things to go forward. You might be trying to finish a project and some kind of resistance within yourself comes up. That resistance can be one force that you push against creating a new “opposing force” which then brings you forward.

The law of Three may also be seen as a higher energy working on a lower energy to produce the middle energy thus upgrading the lower energy.

There has to be this higher energy present in order for the lower energy to transform.

These are the basic ideas of the law of three. You can see how bringing in your own intentional resistance can create the friction to allow something new to come in. It is the way to neutralize the other two forces in order to transform a situation.

Have a great week.




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