Conquering the Resistance
“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
~ Steven Pressfield,
Don’t get the wrong impression of Betty Streff. I’m not always chipper, just ask my family! I sure don’t think I have all the answers and I struggle daily with doing the things I should, believe me. If we’re honest, we all do. It’s far easier to write about the best practices of living one’s worthy values than it is to live them. I want to be 100% clear about that.
The high road is always the best path when you’ve decided to work toward becoming the best possible version of who you are, but it isn’t an easy journey. I do want to share something I’ve learned in recent years about why we struggle. I hope it will be useful and help you understand what’s happening on the days when you’re feeling discouraged. I think it just might make it easier for you to push through it.
First of all, it’s this pesky human condition we all have called imperfection. That alone is hard enough, but there’s also a mysterious but very real force constantly working against us, especially when we’re trying to do something worthwhile. In fact, sometimes the obstacles increase in direct proportion to the value and importance of the work we are trying to do. We’ve been wrestling with this opposition as long as mankind has strived to do better, do more and accomplish meaningful things. It’s been called by many names but my favorite personification of this phenomenon is calling it “The Resistance.”
This name was first coined by master storyteller Steven Pressfield, an author best known for writing fiction, most notably a novel about golf called The Legend of Bagger Vance. Pressfield definitely veered off course when he wrote The War of Art in 2002. I’m so glad he did because in this non-fiction title he solidly identified and gave a name to the universal enemy of creativity and doing good work. Every one of us wages battle with resistance every day. Pressfield teaches us much about overcoming resistance and achieving success in his highly acclaimed book.
Well-known author and prolific blogger Seth Godin took the ball and ran with the concept of The Resistance and connected it to the function of the most primitive part of our brain, the limbic region. (I wrote about this in a previous post.) Godin calls the limbic region our “lizard brain.” It strives to keep the status quo and to stop us from venturing into any new territory where it senses there may be a threat of danger. This awful sounding beast of resistance is defeated most easily when we ignore it and push right past it.
In the very first paragraphs of Matthew Kelly’s latest book Resisting Happiness, he writes that we just might meet resistance at the very beginning of our day when our alarm clock goes off. If we hit “snooze”, right off the bat resistance has “kicked our butt” (in his words). Kelly suggests that the resistance visits popes and kings, CEOs and janitors, the rich and the poor, young and old. Everyone battles the resistance. The good news is by understanding it and learning to recognize it, resistance loses its mystery and its power over us very quickly.
In scripture, the apostle Paul, a guy who admittedly had one of the best teachers possible when it came to doing the right things, struggled too. He said it this way, “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway”. How about you and me? Don’t we experience the same struggle to do the things we know will lead us to a better place?
I genuinely hope it helps to know just how universal it is to wage battle with laziness, procrastination, distractions, fear and self-doubt. You’re not alone! But my bigger hope is that you’ll find out how just a nudge, a little bit of push, a bit more determination, a smidge more discipline will send resistance running. When you do, you’ll savor the joy of accomplishing the little wins as you break through the barrier of resistance. Over time, all those small victories will add up to the big win, living your worthy values and knowing you have become the best possible version of you possible!
If you’ve read far enough to reach this paragraph, thank you! I’d love to know if I’ve shared something worthwhile. I hope it has helped you understand resistance is a force that plagues us all but with dedication and effort you can defeat it! Tell me what you think! Your comments are always read, appreciated and acknowledged!