Today we talk about the dark side of the force. Whether you call it Fear, The Lizard Brain or The Resistance it has one goal, to keep you from doing anything new. In the past I have discussed all the positive ways I have lived my life adventuring every day. However, today we talk a bit about all the fear and doubts that precede the goals.
For years I grappled with the resistance without even knowing what it was. Anytime I went to try something new I was assaulted by an anxiety that I could not control. Regardless of if I was traveling, going to a job interview, starting a new job, joining a new hobby group, he was there. He was like my shadow, always attached to me, and the closer I got to any light the darker he would get.
Currently, he is still here. He never does truly go away. However, with a lot of practice I have learned how to tame him more frequently. With the help of Steven Pressfield I was able to give a name to the enemy and analyze his form. So I’m going to talk about what The Resistance is and what the most basic thing you need to do to combat it.
“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. Resistance is experienced as fear…” Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.
The Resistance is the fear that you experience when you think about writing your book. The Resistance is the urge to eat the cake when you are cutting sugar. The resistance is the mental exhaustion you feel before you go for a run. The Resistance is invisible, insidious, internal and infallible. He hates change. He wants to keep you on the couch, keep you filing papers, keep you comfortable, yet miserable. He is the voice in your head telling you to ignore the call to action.
He is the under-evolved lizard-brain. It’s primitive programming that still sees conformity as the safest tribal response to social stimuli. It says it is easier to agree than to fight the status quo. It is the complacency that gyms rely on when they oversell memberships knowing 80% of the people who sign up won’t come.
The Resistance is the enemy of any adventure you want to experience, because it fears the unknown. Its primary objective is to keep you exactly where it is comfortable, even if it’s not what’s best for you.
Start- I find that The Resistance is strongest before you start. Taking the first steps tends to be the hardest part. But once you do each step gets slightly and slightly easier. I recently performed at an open mic. It was the first time I have ever done something like this before and I was resisting, intensely. I was tapping my leg on the ground and breathing deeply. All the while, my heart was pounding. Then I got up there.
You know what? As soon as I started it got easier. I was able to read without a hitch. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the right step. To Start.
Continue- Things are going to get tough. In the middle of the adventure there is going to come a point where the momentum dies and the temptation to drift will happen. This is especially common for people with a lot of ideas. I recently came up with an idea that I love for a podcast. I love podcasts and have been looking for an exciting topic that I can become passionate about.
This is just a distraction trying to prevent me from focusing on the goals I have set. The Resistance can even manifest itself in the image of something positive. The goal here, refocus yourself and continue;.
Finish- I recently experienced a pull to quit when trying to run 9 miles for the first time. When I ran 8 miles the week before I did not have any problems. But for some reason this one was different. I got halfway and all of a sudden the various shadows came into the back of my mind. All of them trying to get me to stop. I could not focus and the whole time my mind was screaming to give in.
Needless to say I finished. When doubt fills you telling you that you can’t finish. Prove him wrong and do just that. Shipping will make the next time you meet The Resistance that much easier to combat and honestly, the sense of achievement alone is worth it.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Resistance is the enemy. He feeds into your own fears trying to prevent you from achieving your new goals. You can combat him by Starting, Continuing and Finishing. By practicing these you are on your way to defeating him. There is still so much to talk on the topic of The Resistance and it is probably my favorite topic in all of Personal Development. Next week I will go a little deeper into to how to overcome The Resistance. But until then:
In what ways have your felt The Resistance? Have you defeated him before? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below and if you like what you are reading I encourage you to follow me. I will be posting 2-3 times a weeks and next post will be on Monday 5/21. So thank you for your time! Go live your Day to Day Adventure.
John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear.