When you think of the word resistance, you may think of being resistant to illness, or resisting an urge to do something that may bring you bodily harm. Maybe you think about those elastic bands at the gym, or how water resistant your new gadget is. While these are all forms of resistance that can help us remain healthy or protect us and our possessions, not all resistance is there for our benefit. In fact it can be downright destructive.
You see, resistance loves to work overtime, sending us constant messages, “protecting” us from harm, but also from fear, embarrassment or any uncomfortable situation that may arise. Everyone has dealt with this type of resistance at some time in their life. Most of us on a daily basis.
The problem with this type of resistance is that often times it is keeping us from things we should be experiencing. It can keep us from accomplishing goals and dreams, or even from setting high goals for ourselves. In this sense it is our worst enemy. It disguises itself as rational thought, but in reality it manifests as fear, self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, distraction, self-sabotage, guilt, etc. Resistance is always with us, it never sleeps, it’s always lying and we must battle it daily.
Any pursuit you have will inevitably illicit opposition, whether it’s getting out of bed in the morning or climbing Mt. Everest, resistance will show its ugly head at some point along the way.
Let’s walk the path of resistance for a moment. First, you have an idea. An amazing idea that you are proud of, have excitement and enthusiasm for, and your first instinct tells you “Hell yes! I can do that! I am going to do that!” It’s backed by drive, passion, love, and the knowledge that this idea is coming from your true self. But then we hit the second phase: resistance. It tells us all the reasons why we can’t or won’t accomplish what we’ve set out to do. “You’re not strong enough, you are too old, too young, you don’t have enough resources, your friends and family don’t think it’s a good idea, you’re not smart enough, what if I make a fool of myself?” This list could go on and on, and often, in our head, it does. Whatever form it takes, the goal of resistance is to keep us from doing what we set out to do.
This is where our battle begins. We have to fight against the lies and limiting thoughts that threaten to impede our potential. How do we do that? As Stephen Pressfield says in his book Do the Work, “Stay stupid” and “Be arrogant” I know, that sounds awful. I don’t want to be stupid or arrogant either, but here is the logic behind what he says. You need to be stupid enough to set goals that seem crazy or impossible, then be arrogant enough to believe you can pull it off! So many of the world’s greatest achievers were first thought of as crazy because of how far they thought outside of the box. Consider people like the Wright brothers, Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson or any world leader whether good or bad. They all pushed through resistance in all of its forms to get to where they wanted to be. They were too dumb to quit and to stubborn to back off.
What made them different than any of the rest of us? I guarantee they encountered struggle along the way. They just learned how to battle it. They were able to quiet those defeating thoughts and keep them at bay.
As I was talking with my husband about this topic I was telling him about a time when I felt resistance. I had decided to go to night school. I was excited about the opportunity to learn, to grow and to practice in a field that highly interested me. I was enthusiastic and had the complete support of my family. After enrolling though, I had such a huge wave of guilt come over me. “Was I doing the right thing” “In my already busy schedule, could I sacrifice the time away from my kids?” Then came even more self-defeating thoughts. “Was I even smart enough?” “Would I be able to handle the work load?” I was being bombarded by resistance! As I was talking through this my husband asked me this simple question. “Can your excitement and enthusiasm exist in the same time and place as your fear and guilt?” I thought about that for a moment and decided that, no, it couldn’t. When I’m in the moment of feeling passionate and enthusiastic about my learning and growth, I don’t feel the burden of sacrifice, or the guilt and fear of inadequacy. They fade far into the background.
It can be hard, but in order to battle resistance we need to focus on the initial passion and excitement that we have for our project or idea so that the resistance can’t exist in the same place. It will inevitably take the stage sometimes, but don’t ever let it steal the show!
Think for a moment what you could accomplish without anything holding you back. The possibilities are endless! Fighting through resistance can be painful, but the alternative of giving up will have a much more negative impact. Is it possible that resistance is keeping you from being your authentic self? From setting and accomplishing life goals? Fight through the fear, doubt, guilt and embarrassment. Conquer your resistance in whatever form it comes.
My daughter also recently read Steven Pressfield’s book. She then made a poster that now hangs above her desk which reads “On the field of the self, stand and knight and a dragon. You are the knight, resistance is the dragon.” I love passing by and seeing this reminder. I encourage you all to press forward and conquer your dragons, to be a little arrogant and stay stupid!