Resistance Training: Reframing the Past to Reduce Stress

“Muscle” Tone

How is your muscle tone? What I mean by that is, how is your physical muscle tone? Your emotional muscle tone? Your social muscle tone? Your spiritual muscle tone? If you’re reading these words, chances are you are living at the top of the human pyramid. You have the most basic needs met. In fact, you probably have the most advanced technology available on the planet right now, which is how you’re viewing this page. In other words, we’ve got it pretty good. The challenge with living in a convenience and comfort culture is that we don’t have an opportunity to strengthen ourselves when adversity strikes. Because adversity strikes! And the only way we strengthen ourselves is through what’s called resistance training.

Engage With The Resistance

As an athlete, I learned that resistance training meant lifting weights, doing cardio, and engaging my body purposefully with resistance in order to strengthen my body. But it wasn’t until I was on Tommy Rosen’s Recovery 2.0 yoga retreat in Costa Rica, where I heard him implore us to “engage with the resistance.” And he didn’t just mean physically, but he meant mentally, socially, spiritually. And this ties perfectly with another dear friend Jesse Harless’s quote which is “everything you want is on the other side of your comfort zone.” I’m reminded that no growth happens without some sort of stressor. So, even though it’s important for us to try to minimize stress, we don’t want zero stress because that’s where the strength comes from. Once again, it’s about finding a balance between too much and too little. This is resistance training of a different sort.

Two Types of Stress

Did you know there are two types of stress? There’s positive healthy stress, which is called eustress. Like euphoria, where the word stress is actually the ending, and the prefix EU means pleasant pleasing positive pleasurable. And then there’s distress, which would be unhealthy, negative stress, where stress is the ending and then the beginning the DI right would be like dystopia or dysphoria. Usually, this has a negative connotation. Events can be one or the other. The real power is that you can decide, and choose whether or not something is going to be a healthy challenge, or whether it’s going to wear you out. How do we do that? By asking a powerful question such as, “How is this good for me?” Or, “How will this strengthen me?” Or, “What can I learn from this?” These questions lead us to see the benefit in something that we may have seen no benefit in moments before.

Reframing the Past

What’s really great is you can apply this in the moment, and you can even apply it retroactively. It’s possible to look at a series of events that you may have told yourself a story about and to see those events in a new light and tell a new story. So much so that you can get yourself to a place of being grateful for those events. Even if you’re not able to get to a place of gratitude, you can always get to a place where at least it’s neutral. I do an exercise in some of my programs where I walk people through how to reframe negative events to be either positive or neutral. Participants have told me that this is one of the most powerful activities that they’ve ever done. Because they didn’t know it was an option to reframe a negative event in this way. This is one of the most powerful gifts of the human mind – The ability to tell a story about events and the ability to change that story and rewrite the narrative later on so that it works for us. You’ve already done this, of course, it’s called hindsight. You just maybe never wielded it consciously.

So, engage with the resistance! Whether it’s physical, emotional, social, or spiritual. If you can’t eliminate stress or change the context, ask yourself how this stressor can be good for you. And if you hang out with that question long enough, I promise, you’ll come up with an answer. When you can’t, that’s when you just trust that your higher power can see the benefit from your higher power’s vantage point, whatever that may be. Because, as my wife and I like to say, sometimes you just have to lean into the suck!

How have you engaged with the resistance? Drop a comment and let me know. Also, if you’re interested in learning more from me on this and other similar topics, visit the “Resources” page on my website at

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