Sometimes, the path of least resistance is the best course. If you’re driving to see family for the holidays, it probably makes more sense to take the highways rather than the “off road” path. Often however, the difficult path is exactly the one we need to be on, particularly when we’re working toward a big goal. This is because resistance serves as a compass, pointing us straight towards our target. It makes intuitive sense; nobody expects to achieve anything great without encountering difficulty. So, if you’ve got a grand ambition that you’ve been putting off because you don’t know where to start, first identify where the greatest resistance is and then, move toward it.
Resistance prevents action. It doesn’t take place when we’re simply contemplating an idea. It’s the “doing” that is stifled. We come up with myriad excuses to justify not taking action. If your goal is to write a book, you’ll find that there’s a million excuses to put off writing. In other words, there is a force working to prevent you from writing. That force is resistance.
If you dream of starting your own business and have a vision, a plan and desire but you still haven’t taken action, you’ve encountered resistance. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes it’s uncertainty but it always exists within the confines of our minds. Though it’s born and fed in our minds, its action that will ultimately defeat it. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you overcome resistance and begin (or continue) your journey towards achieving your dreams.
“I’ll do it when I’m done with school.” When school is done, other responsibilities take over and action gets punted further into the future.
The cure for this is to continually take small steps. Sure, writing 500 words today isn’t enough to publish a book. But repeat the process over and over and you’ll get there. Probably before you would have otherwise started.
Resistance points the course. Determine what and where it is and move towards it. Take small steps, always keep your vision in mind and forget about what other people think. The naysayers have never achieved what you will achieve. You got this.
For more on the topic of Resistance, check out Steven Pressfield's book "Do the Work".
One of the principal influencers in my journey of personal growth and learning has been books. A variety of books from a variety of authors. Books expose us to new ideas and different styles and methods of going through the process of becoming all we can be. They can be empowering and they can help us overcome sticking points in our own philosophies.
I first realized that I did have the ability to speak confidently with people when I read How to Win Friends and Influence People for the first time as a teenager. Before that, I was so debilitatingly shy that my lip quivered when a girl tried to talk to me! Read voraciously and indiscriminately. If there are nuggets of wisdom that you can use, take them and make them your own. Below is a list of books (In no particular order) that have had a significant impact on my life. I’m eager to hear your thoughts too! What books have most impacted you? List them in the comments below!
What are your favorite books? Please list them in the comments!
Love for others can come when we strive to see the good in them. This can be particularly difficult when contention and dispute arise. Think for a moment about the stories our minds create, even without conscious effort. We create them for ourselves, and our adversaries in any conflict, small or large. In our story, typically, we view ourselves as the heroes. Those with views contrary to our own are the villains; we create a story about them that depicts them as liars, cheaters, and all around bad people. It’s a mental exercise; we don’t sit down and craft a detailed narrative of the story. Its purpose is simply to justify our emotional reactions to various interactions.
Think about it. The last time you passionately disagreed with someone, in your mind were you the “good guy” and they the “bad guy?” The stories we create about people can color our opinion of them for the rest of our lives. For this reason, it takes a conscious effort to actually change the story. The first step is simply asking yourself, “Is it possible that during times of contention, people may have motives just as noble as mine?”
I’m just as guilty of creating negative stories about people as anyone else. It seems to justify what I consider to be a righteous position, but it comes at a price. The simple, passive mental exercise of depicting them as villains causes me indignation and anger. It’s not just a mental exercise either; it comes with negative physical manifestations as well. My heart rate increases and my blood pressure goes up. For what? To prove that I’m right? For a long time, I didn’t know that there was a better way.
Concocting these stories is a way of protecting ourselves from a negative self-image. Unfortunately, it also stifles us; these stories aren’t created in the forefront of our critically thinking mind. They’re manufactured by the subconscious. That means that creating the stories is the easy way to justify our feelings as a result of a challenging interaction. The difficult, and infinitely more productive and mature alternative is to think deeply about it. In this way, our conscious mind can actually change the story.
The first step is to catch yourself when you create a negative story. Force yourself to think about people as individuals with valid opinions and families who love them. Stop making them the villains of your story and take personal ownership of your circumstances. In a nutshell, stop blaming them. In my personal journey, I have noticed that I don’t have to change my opinions; I just need to become accepting of the opinions of others.
It’s important to remember that as you become more open to the opinions of others, they might not be open to yours. That’s okay. Learn to accept this as you move on by recognizing that they are at a different point in their personal journey then you are. This is about our growth. For me, by simply looking at people differently, my capacity for love grows. I become less burdened with grudges. Forgiveness comes easier. I can move on.
This is a lesson that can be applied to your life in a simple way. I once read of an executive who, every time he entered a room came up with at least one positive thought about everyone there. Even if he didn’t know the person he created a positive story about them.[i] “She has a nice smile” or “he has a firm handshake” are two very simple yet positive stories you can tell yourself about people.
I’ve found this is something that works wonders when I’m driving. If someone cuts me off, I could yell and cuss, cursing them and everything they stand for (I’m ashamed to admit, that I still succumb to that type of reaction on occasion). Or, I could simply say, “That person must be in a hurry. I hope everything is okay.” Either way, I’m not going to change the fact that they cut me off. But, by changing the story I tell myself about them, I can effectively save myself a great deal of stress and unnecessarily elevated blood pressure.
[i] Sharma, Robin. Extraordinary Leadership. Narrated by Robin Sharma. Audible, 2008. Audiobook