Author Stephen Pressfield suggests that anytime one takes on a new project or tries to make a change, Resistance is automatically and inevitably called forth (“Resistance never sleeps,” he decries). This Resistance will use any and all tricks in the book to get you to stop whatever project or change you are making.
And the Resistance is very persuasive:
- “You’ll never be able to pull this off,” it tells you.
- Or, “Do it next week. This week is too busy.”
- Or, “I don’t feel like it.”
- Or, “It’s too hard.”
- Or, “I’m scared.”
- Or, “I’ll get to it someday.”
- Or, “I don’t have enough time or money.”
- Or it creates a certain feeling in your body or attitude in your mind (fatigue, depression, pain, resignation, discouragement, fear, etc.).
- Or, “[Fill in your Resistance’s favorite phrases or tactics.]”
Here are some of the common activities that call for Resistance:
1. Any artistic or creative project
2. Any entrepreneurial venture
3. Any diet or health regimen
4. Stopping some compulsion or addiction
5. Educational/in-depth training pursuits
6. Any commitment of the heart (getting married; having a child; weathering a difficult period in a relationship)
7. Taking a principled stand in the face of adversity, criticism or sacrifice
8. Leaving an unhealthy situation
Here are some ways to bypass or overcome Resistance and move forward:
As long as it is in the right direction, any action will help loosen the grip of Resistance on you.
Example: If you want to write a book, sit down and write. If nothing comes to mind (a good trick Resistance uses is blankness and lack of inspiration), write about why you can’t write or aren’t writing as a way to prime the pump.
Example: If you want to exercise get up and walk around the block one time. You don’t have to train for a marathon, just start moving. Or even more minimally, lay out your exercise togs.
Find an accountability partner or group who will hold you accountable and call you forward when your energy or commitment flags.
Get an exercise buddy; find a supportive and accountability partner with whom you can check in regularly and who promises to effectively to hold you to your word; join a writing group (find the right one)
Start before you are ready or the conditions are right
One of the Resistance’s favorite tricks is to convince you that there will be some ideal conditions (when I get that new computer or after the new holidays or when the kids grow up) or time in the future when you can begin such a monumental task or change.
Get around this by taking Resistance by surprise and starting now. He won’t have time to muster his arguments and tactics to stop you.
Ignore your feelings and unhelpful thoughts
As a psychotherapist, I love to tell people this. Your feelings and thoughts are helpful for deciding and knowing what direction to pursue, but once you figure that out, ignore your feeling and any unhelpful thoughts that arise.
Thank them for sharing their perspectives with you and keep progressing in the right direction. Feelings and thoughts are helpful advisors but poor masters.
Recent studies in the brain plasticity show us that people can change, but because the brain and neurology gets grooved, change often feels unnatural, uncomfortable and strange. Keep going past this sense and “re-groove” yourself.
By Bill O’Hanlon