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How to resist the Resistance?

Maybe you’re familiar with resistance? Okay, almost certainly you’re familiar with resistance.

I’m not talking about the opposition to current flow in an electrical circuit, measured in ohms, that we learned about in physics classes years ago.

I mean the opposition to what’s best for us, measured in agita, that we’ve learned about in business, and for that matter, in life. And that we continue to experience on a regular basis.

You might guess, I’m up against Resistance. It does help some to know I’m not alone, and I’m pretty sure I’m not.

This Resistance is personal.

Talking with some fellow seekers the other day, I mentioned my difficulty cultivating a daily meditation practice.

It’s one thing to sit in a circle with like-minded others once a week. I often find that meaningful and even comfortable. But what about the days we don’t come together? Daily meditation is really supposed to be part of our path; it also would be good for me to spend some time each day in that kind of quiet inner work.

It took me years to be able to sit still for even a short time, and even with the support of a group. I fidgeted, I squirmed, I wiggled like a child eager to get out of her car seat. I just couldn’t be still to save my soul. And while I don’t think sitting this morning would literally save my soul, I do think it would be good for my inner growth.

Plus, did I mention it’s supposed to be part of our path? Having so much difficulty with quiet work feels like failure.

So, I try, I really do. I sit down on a supportive chair in a quiet place. I straighten my spine, arrange my hands in my lap, and close my eyes. Then I come smack up against Resistance. Sometimes, Resistance even gets a head start and keeps me from sitting down on that chair at all.

This Resistance is also professional.

I want and need to do more speaking; you know I’ve been putting my business back together after extended time off taking care of my husband while he was in home hospice.

The way to do more speaking is to get more gigs. And the way to do that is to talk with people who plan events and tell them how I can help them make their conference, team meeting, or staff retreat an overwhelming success. This is not, as they say, rocket science. This is how professionals of all sorts maintain and grow their businesses.

Why, then, is it such a challenge for me?

I think about calling past clients or potential clients I’ve met more recently, or even people I don’t know at all, but who may well be needing the sort of service I provide. I make lists of these people, I scout their LinkedIn profiles, I make a plan.

What I don’t do is pick up the phone and make the calls.

Maybe you can relate? Sales reluctance, they call it. Or, we might say it’s a big, honking case of Resistance.

How does Resistance show up for you?

Steven Pressfield started an ongoing conversation about Resistance when he wrote The War of Art, describing it as a universal force that operates against creativity to keep things as they are. It involves some combination of fear, procrastination, distraction, self-doubt, and the myriad activities that take us away from the work we should be doing.

In my case, ironically, Resistance showed up today in the search for my well-worn copy of The War of Art. I finally decided to stop scrounging through piles of books and just write, on the theory that if you want more quotes from the book, you can search for your copy.

You might recognize yourself in my descriptions of my own Resistance. Or maybe it looks entirely different for you.

Some of us come up against Resistance when we consider a creative pursuit like painting or writing or playing the piano. We might resist going to the gym, training for a race, or playing pickleball.  Launching a search for a new job or pursuing a better position at the job we already have. Going back to school for an advanced degree or for the pure pleasure of learning.

Resistance has many theaters of operation.

The question is, how do we overcome Resistance?

Suppose I want to get on with it, whatever “it” is. What if I’m seriously ready to meditate? Or to book speaking gigs? What if you’re ready to accomplish your goal, whatever it is?

How do we vanquish fear, self-doubt, and self-sabotage that keeps us stuck?

Pressfield has an answer for us, and a bunch of books to elaborate on it.

“This very moment,” he writes, “We can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance.

This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

Maybe it is that simple. Maybe those people at Nike were right. Just do it.

I’m sitting down now, doing some of my work … finishing up this message to you. Maybe you’ll find a bit of inspiration in it. Let me know how you sit down and do your work.