Resistance. It is a beast that often gets the better of us. It comes in the form of self-doubt, procrastination, distraction, and perfectionism to name a few. It can stop us in our tracks and keep us from that which we desire.
If there is something you care about, you are bound to encounter resistance. If you are a yogi, it may grace its presence in the form of the inability to consistently show up on the mat. If you are a writer, you will experience a period of lack of inspiration and lack of desire to show up to your craft. Have a business idea? Resistance may keep you from moving forward. Basically, It can show up in all aspects of our life, often without us knowing what is actually going on.
I experienced it this weekend when it comes to writing, and it is so sneaky, I didn’t even realize what it was until I was observing my almost ten-year-old daughter.
It has been a stormy, full moon weekend—the first weekend of the rainy season came in with a bang and it is also our first weekend in months without plans. No soccer, no play dates, and nowhere to go. Which you’d think would be lovely. In many respects, it has been.
I’ve watched my imaginative five-year-old play all day and engage with the world around her whereas when I ask my ten-year-old to turn off the TV and find something to do she mopes around muttering:
“There’s nothing to do”
“This is the worst day ever”
(Do all you moms out there feel me?!?!)
Being the awesome mom that I am I roll my eyes and tell her to stop whining and find something to do. Anything. Just dive in and get started with something. Think outside the box. Go through the cupboards and see what’s there. Engage with something and if you don’t like it, if it doesn’t entertain you, then move onto something else. It’s not that hard.
What’s ironic and quite hilarious is that I did not heed my own advice.
Every week I am inspired to write and this week I’ve got nothing. Nada. No inspired ideas. I find myself mindlessly scrolling Facebook and distracting myself in every way possible instead of just. showing. up. Instead of jumping in and brainstorming ideas or just getting started and writing about anything, I decided it would be more fun to mope around and hope that I would be struck with divine inspiration.
Problem is, it doesn’t always work this way. Instead of waiting for inspiration to come to you, you have to go to it. You have to show up. You have to do the work. You have to just get started. So I decided to get started. I started writing and it was total shit. I could have thrown in the towel but I wasn’t going to let distraction and perfectionism get the best of me. I kept writing, and it was then that I realized this week’s blog post had a mind of its own and wanted to be about resistance because that was exactly what I was experiencing. Good ‘ole-keep-ya-down resistance.
When I realized what was going on, that I was at battle with The Beast, I decided to visit a book by Steven Pressfield, a short little gem on resistance called, Do The Work. Great title, huh?
Steven says, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower nature will elicit resistance because our lower nature loves instant gratification. And we are an instant gratification society. So if you are engaging in anything that does not result in instant gratification, you can be sure to encounter resistance. To feel out of ideas, hesitant, uninspired, and stuck.
You can throw in the towel, think it is just going to be this way, or you can name what it is, The Beast of Resistance, and decide to go to battle.
Resistance is a thing in and of itself. It is not you. You have it, but you are not it. The real you must meet it head on if you care deeply about your endeavor. Once you get started, you are already winning.
Whether you are a writer, an artist, an entrepreneur, a yoga teacher, a yogi, or a business owner, you have to ask:
How bad do you want it?
Why do you want it?
If you can only half-heartedly answer these questions, resistance will surely take you down. However, if you want something badly enough, and if you care deeply enough, you will be able to defeat the resistance, to push past the perceived roadblock in front of you and commit to engagement at all costs.
Tips for working with resistance, inspired by Steven Pressfield
1. Get Started
Start before you are ready. Start without ideas. Start without inspiration. Start unmotivated. Just show up and start working, engage. Then, you are well on your way to finding that gem that you seek.
2. Stay Stupid
It sounds bad, but the point is to not try to be too smart. To not try to be perfect or full of brilliant ideas. To not wait until you feel 100% to show up. It doesn’t have to be your best. Just get going and let what comes up come up. When we try too hard, when we think everything needs to be perfect it will stop us dead in our tracks. Or it can stop us from finishing. I think it’s better to have done something lousy than to have done nothing at all. It is better to show up at your mat and just lay there then to mindlessly scroll Facebook. At least you tried, you showed up. Chances are if you keep playing, keep engaging, and pushing on eventually divine assistance will come to your aid, and BAM! Inspiration strikes. You feel motivated. You feel excited again.
3. Have Faith
Trust that assistance will be provided if you show up and do the work. The Muse won’t leave you hanging if you commit to engagement. It could be a short wait or a long wait, you can’t know this. All you can do is have faith, which is great advice for anything in life. Just. Have. Faith. Keep going.