Resistance, I've Been Expecting You
When you hear a little voice inside your head say: “That’s a stupid idea.” Don’t worry, it was just Resistance. To do the things that really matter to you in your life or your business, you’ll have to learn how to live with the doubt and do it anyway.
It's as common to all of us as breathing. It touches us first thing in the morning and kisses us goodnight. Steven Pressfield, in his profound book The War of Art, explores the power of resistance and the need to look resistance straight in the eye if you are ever going to overcome it. To shove it off would be suicide for your mission. Resistance is and always will be at least as strong as your desire to grow, to change, to evolve, to learn or to try something new. Pressfield describes resistance as a force, something outside of you and within you that does not want anything about you to change. He addresses the subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways that even the people you think will be your biggest supporters in the change will likely present you with resistance.
The goal is to equip you to see resistance when it shows up (and it will!), respect the power of resistance in your journey, and create a plan to sit with resistance when it strikes.
Learning how to do this is likely the best indicator of whether or not you'll continue working towards your big idea or dream.
One of the interesting things about resistance is that you never outgrow it. Resistance just follows you around like a good dog should nipping at your heels for your whole entire life and barking especially loud when you decide to make a change - particularly a change for the better - in your life.
If you are feeling the urge quit reading and "resist" learning about resistance, if you feel like this content doesn't really apply to you, if you suddenly feel like it's too late and you need to go to bed, or you think, "I'm just not interested in reading this anymore;" I URGE you to press on.
If you continue in spite of your "instinct" to quit, you're learning in this moment what it takes to welcome Resistance to sit next to you as your take another step forward.
Resistance is your older brother who said you'd never amount to anything. Resistance is that little voice inside your head that tells you: "you'll never lose the weight so what difference will one doughnut make?" Resistance is your decision not to take the art class because [insert one of a million different excuses about money, time or energy]. Resistance shows up in our relationships, in our self-talk, and in our rationalization out of taking action.
Resistance takes the form of negative thoughts, detrimental decisions, hesitation, fear, shame, embarrassment, rationalization, inaction, action in an opposite direction, excuses, the idea that something else is more important, judgment, feelings of selfishness, procrastination, unworthiness, a sense of being unlovable, self-sabotage, and any other thought, action or feeling that creates within you a sense of not being deserving of the growth or positive change you seek to embrace.
In the process of creating change in your life or business, you’ll find resistance getting in between you and your every move.
Resistance is most likely to show up when you are about to take even the smallest action for the first time OR you are nearing the finish line.
Imagine resistance as the temper-tantrum of a two-year-old child in the middle of Wal-Mart who's just been told they cannot have the [insert best-selling plastic toy of the year]. If you can understand why the child acts out in a temper tantrum, you can begin to understand the “why” of Resistance. The child, not having yet developed the sophisticated strategies of manipulation of my 12-year-old, does have enough emotional and rational capacity to hear the "no," realize that he or she has completely lost control of this relationship/situation/dire need for the new toy. Without many tools available for altering the decision, the child goes straight for jugular. The kid's self-talk: "I've seen it before. If I can throw myself down on the floor kicking and screaming for that new toy, my mom/dad will be so embarrassed that they'll have no choice but to get it for me to get me off the floor!" The tantrum ensues, the kid was most likely correct in his or her assessment of mom/dad. The kid has a brand new toy. Resistance operates under similar principles in your head all the time.
You: About to muster up the guts to get in the pool and begin your training for that triathlon.
Resistance: Sensing a loss of control anchors in to deliver the message.
Self-talk: "Don't you remember you tried this before? Remember that one time when you were a kid? All the other kids laughed when they saw that sorry excuse for a breast stroke. You don't need this. You don't need the stress. Get your towel and let's go."
That is the way Resistance throws a temper-tantrum in your head trying to get you to play it safe, stay away from risk, keep it comfortable, and avoid any opportunity to learn and grow. Is Resistance throwing a tantrum in your head right now? What is it saying to you? Whatever it says, hear it - and do the exact opposite thing.
I dare you.
Tell me about a time Resistance almost stopped you in your tracks. How did you manage to say "Hello, Resistance, I've been expecting you," and then promptly get back to work?