Have you ever wanted more out of life, but felt like there was something inside you holding you back? Have you ever found yourself in a quiet moment of reflection, and been utterly certain that there was something you were meant to do – and yet you’ve never done it? Have you been inspired with a calling or purpose for your life beyond your existing nine to five, been all fired up and ready to take action, only to pull back at the very last second?
Perhaps you’ve found excuses or reasons why this new path is not for you? Maybe you’ve felt like there’s an invisible handbrake or anchor – something outside yourself – pulling you back into your comfort zone and not letting you move forward in this part of your life? Have you ever found yourself in a state of panic about the possible “what ifs” that might go wrong with your new idea?
If you have ever felt like this, or something like this, I have two things to say to you:
- You’re not alone.
- You’re perfectly normal.
Enter The Resistance
The source of those “handbrakes,” the odd feelings of “stuck-ness,” and the endless reasons and excuses that pop into our minds to derail our purpose and higher calling, all have a simple name. They are our Resistance. (Yes, capital ‘R’.)
Our Resistance is that part of us that pushes back every time we start something new, or attempt to do the “important” rather than “urgent” work. It’s the ethereal hand in the chest that says “Nope. Not today, sunshine.” Self-sabotage, procrastination, imposter syndrome, anxiety, depression… these are all forms of Resistance.
It’s the reason we hit snooze instead of honouring our commitment to get up early. It’s the voice in our head convincing us to stay at work instead of leaving on time and going to the gym. Resistance is the reason we drop out of (or never start) a new art class, avoid that difficult conversation with our partner, or reject phone calls from long lost friends and family.
Resistance is insidious, cunning, evil … and it affects every single one of us. Worst of all? Resistance is internal, not external. It comes from inside us. It is purely self-generated, self-made, self-sustained. We are the architects of our own imprisonment.
Steven Pressfield wrote an amazing book about the Resistance, called The War of Art, in which he describes the characteristics of Resistance, how it shows up, how to recognise it, and what to do about it.
(If you’re interested in doing something meaningful with your life, serving a higher purpose, and helping other humans, I recommend you read his book. As soon as you start doing the work you’re meant to be doing, you will discover that your actions and goals get repeatedly hampered by some inexplicable force. That’s the Resistance.)
Resistance shows up in the things we say to ourselves, often as a dissociated second person narrative:
- “What’s the point?”
- “Why bother? You’ll only fail anyway.”
- “You’ve never been able to stick to something. Why should now be any different?”
- “It’s OK if you don’t do it today. Start tomorrow.”
- “You’re too busy for this.”
- “You don’t have time for this.”
Have you ever heard your inner dialogue whispering things like this into your ear? Of course you have. We all have. That’s the Resistance talking.
But the Resistance also shows up in our actions, some of which I’ve mentioned above: Hitting snooze, rejecting the call, scrolling social media, reading the news, taking a nap, raiding the fridge/pantry, scrolling social media (again), checking emails, avoiding hard things, skipping the gym, missing your meditation, and on and on.
Resistance is everywhere, and I believe it is one of the biggest obstacles standing between us and the life of our dreams, a life we frigging LOVE every single day. In my work as a Well-Being and Resilience Coach, I see my clients (mostly men) struggle with their own Resistance every day. I see it in myself, my wife, my kids. I see it in friends and family members.
Once we learn to spot our own Resistance, we begin to see it everywhere.
So far this year, here is a short – but by no means exhaustive – list of where Resistance has shown up in my life, and either stopped me dead in my tracks, or caused me so much emotional and mental disturbance that I’ve been horribly derailed from my commitments:
- Waking up at 5am.
- Practising yoga and meditation daily.
- Restarting my long-neglected writing practice.
- Being peaceful, patient and kind with my family (especially my son).
- Starting the men’s walks/circles I’ve been thinking about for over 12 months.
- Making outreach phone calls and emails to grow my business.
- Going surfing when the conditions are less than perfect.
- Being visible and helpful in my online networks and communities.
- Asking for help from my coach.
- Being honest with my wife about what I’m scared of.
- Taking charge of my work, my finances, my family, my life.
You get the idea.
In every single case, my own inner Resistance has stopped me, stifled me, restrained me, or otherwise caused me to bend or break commitments to being my best self, and getting my work, my art, my love, my skills out into the world.
Do you see how important it is for each of us to become a Resistance Spotter?
In the ultimate ironic synchronicity, as I was preparing for work (procrastinating) this morning, I reached for a card deck by James Wedmore, a kind of Entrepreneur’s Angel Cards. I shuffled three times, and then pulled the top card. It read:
In other words: Kick your Resistance to the kerb, Israel, and do the damn work you’re meant to be doing!
The Path of Most Resistance
Like me, you have a divine spark inside you, something desperate to be expressed, that will be snuffed out and killed by Resistance over, and over, and over, and over again. And if left unchecked, our Resistance will leave us empty, a hollow and drained husk of ourselves. It will steal our joy, shorten our life, and stifle our spirit.
Unless, of course, we learn to identify our Resistance, and with practice and discipline, overcome it each and every day.
If we overcome our Resistance, we’ll reach the end of our lives with no regrets. Or, at the very least, with the unshakable feeling of satisfaction and contentment that we did our absolute best, and were able to express what was inside us in this lifetime.
(A book. A painting. A TED talk. An ocean swim. An overseas trip. A vulnerable conversation. A new career. An old flame. A charity. A company.)
One of my favourite ideas from Steven Pressfield’s book is this:
Our Resistance shows us where we most need to walk. The Path of Most Resistance is the only way forward. In other words, the thing we spend the most energy resisting and procrastinating, is the very thing we most need to do in order to feel fulfilled and whole.
Seems quite obvious, yes? The way to overcome our Resistance is to do what we resist.
If only it were that easy. But Resistance is insidious and cunning, and hides itself inside any number of excuses and rationalisations as to why we ought to turn back, and retreat into ourselves, to avoid facing our fears and doing the important work.
So we must be ever vigilant, alert, ready to go into battle against our Resistance every single day.
How many different ways can you identify the Resistance in your own life?
The good news is, the more you start observing and naming it in your own life, the more you’ll see it and be able to overcome it. The bad news is, no matter how exhaustive you believe your list to be, it is merely a sliver of the many manifestations of Resistance in your life.
When we become quiet, clear, and brave, not only can we begin to hear our true calling and path, but we can feel the tentacles of Resistance, and learn to recognise its fingerprints on our lives, when it begins to push us back into the tiny box of our fearful ego.
In the same way that our amygdala, our reptile brain, is constantly scanning for threats and dangers, Resistance is always trying to keep us small and afraid. It is always looking for signs that we are about to do something aligned and soul-driven, so it can smother us.
The Real Work
The real work of discovering our purpose is to find that thing we’re most scared of, the path that brings forth the Resistance in all its fury. That Resistance is a compass toward the very thing we must do, tackle, overcome, in order to grow and evolve to become who we truly are.
Just do the thing.
Turn off the notifications.
Sit your ass in the chair.
Avoid the shiny objects and other distractions.
Take the action.
Put on your Indiana Jones hat, venture into the ancient ruins, avoid the death-traps and other obstacles, and overcome the Resistance in your life.
Because what you most resist is what you most need.
It’s time to start.
With love and gratitude,
Israel. xo 😃❤️🙏
Need a little help with your Resistance?
Are you an expert procrastinator? A grumpy dad who just can’t work out how to be more patient and kind? An artist stuck in a corporate job that you hate?
Whatever your current circumstances, they don’t have to define who you are or how you live. You can start – today – crafting the life of your dreams and becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Book a 1 hour Breakthrough Coaching Session with me, and let me help you coach you through your own Resistance. You’d be amazed at what’s possible in just 1 hour.
And you know what? If you’ve been resisting booking a call with me for a while, perhaps that thing you’re resisting is that thing you need the most.
Fill in this form to get started, and I’ll get you on my calendar ASAP for your 1 hour Breakthrough Coaching Session.