Battling Resistance

Today I’m writing about the ways in which we stop ourselves from pursuing what we want: resistance in all its forms. Sometimes it is personified as our gremlin, saboteur, or negative voice that tells us that we are not capable of doing or creating what we want or that we don’t deserve it. Sometimes resistance looks like a long to do list that includes so many urgent tasks that we never get around to the really important stuff like starting our business or writing our novel (or blog!). Other times it is the whisper of procrastination “I’ll start my [diet/work-out regime/grad school application] tomorrow.” Resistance, according to Steven Pressfield in The War of Art, will “perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole …. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned.”

Resistance is all internal, even though it seems to come from outside: job, spouse, kids, boss. Although the demands of each are real, resistance multiplies them and throws them up on your face to overwhelm you and keep you from your desire.

I have been battling resistance to writing this blog since I woke this morning. Here’s how it went:

4:45 am. Me: “I could get up and go write.” Resistance: “But you need your sleep.” I sleep until my son comes in to wake me at 6:00 and am then engaged in child herding for the next couple of hours until the kids are delivered to camp. During this time, resistance recruited my son, who clung to my leg and repeatedly moaned, “I don’t want to go to camp.” Resistance then adopted the guise of mommy guilt: “Am I wrong to send them to camp so that I can work? What if he’s miserable all day?” I push this aside, but it stings.

After dropping kids off. Me: “I should  get right to work.” Resistance: “Put the laundry in first.”

After the laundry is in. Me: “Okay. Now can I get to work?” Resistance: “First, let’s make a schedule of what we’re going to do today. That will help keep us on track so we don’t get distracted.” The schedule includes one hour for this blog starting at 10:15, and two half hour blocks for another writing project. It also includes a coaching session, family business, lunch and email (and no housework). This schedule is both a form of resistance (it delays my start and allocates significant time to other activities) and a weapon against resistance (I commit to two hours of writing time and push aside other tasks).

10:10 am Me: “Almost time. I’ll start in five minutes even if I haven’t finished my email.”  Resistance: “I need something to eat first, so I can concentrate. How ’bout an egg and toast?”
10:20 am, still chewing. Me: “I’ve got to sit down to work.” Resistance: “First finish that email to Melissa.”
10:25 am Me: “This is ridiculous. I am writing now.” I sit and open a new blog post. Resistance: “I’ll be back …”

This is how it always is for me, and probably for you, too, if you take notice. There are always a million and one reasons not to do what we most want (and most fear). If we allow them to, all these thing will absorb all our time and energy and will have us defer our desire all the way to our graves. The alternative? It starts with awareness. Once you notice your resistance in its many forms, you will be better able to overcome it. Pressfield advocates declaring war on our resistance and taking a professional approach to our calling. (I’ll say more about the professional approach in another blog post.) Today I did battle with resistance in many forms, and I ultimately I won. Whether or not what I write is any good, I am doing my job: I am at my desk with my fingers on the keys, thinking and writing. Yay me!

But even now, I feel resistance chewing at me — thinking of quitting early even though I started late, wondering if this blog is good enough to post. Resistance would love it if I just save this as a draft and come back to it …… never.

Take that! (I’m clicking “Publish” now ….)