What stops people from doing what they’re supposed to do? The greatest definition for this invisible force has been given by Steven Pressfield. In his book, The War of Art – he calls it RESISTANCE. Not external obstacles or impediments, but inner mental barriers and turmoil. This is perfect because once you give it a name you can kill it.
Resistance – We Meet At Last
The feeling of resistance is accompanied by surmounting procrastination. You either become completely frozen – taking no action – or push things off – backing off like a coward. You’ll make numerous excuses: “It’s not the right time. I don’t have enough knowledge. I’ll do it when I’m ready. What will they think of me? Better wait for more suitable circumstances – on and on ad nauseam. Sounds familiar?
Everyone gets resistance in whatever shape or form. Starting something new is always scary and followed by fear because you lack the experience. Even doing the things you’re already good at causes at least some mild anxiety if it’s challenging enough.
But most creative geniuses, who we can call as such, have managed to overcome resistance. Imagine what the world would be like if Einstein hadn’t worked on the seemingly impossible task of coming up with his theory of relativity? Or if Mozart hadn’t created his symphonies despite his alcohol problem? Or if Martin Luther King hadn’t stepped up for black rights in fear of being judged?
What Causes Resistance
Having to confront resistance is a dreadful task because it completely paralyzes you, preventing you from taking the action you know you have to be taking. It’s a natural response, but what causes this feeling?
The thing is that this petrifying force isn’t actually real in its objective sense. Fear, anxiety and any other emotion you get is based on your subjective reality. A lion doesn’t get scared when it’s chasing down the gazelle, nor are you afraid of riding a bike anymore. However, as a child you were scared sh#%less when your parents let go of the saddle and you were on your own.
We’re all afraid of fear and are avoiding it mostly in our lives, but not only is it groundless but it’s also actually a good sign. If your work matters to you, then you SHOULD get scared because it means you’re trying to get better and are constantly pushing your own limits further.
Resistance itself is purely subjective – it doesn’t have any other ground for existence other than how much power you choose to give it inside your head. It manifests itself in many shape and form: fear, anxiety, procrastination, self-sabotage and ignorantly following false beliefs.
How to Overcome Resistance
Pressfield was wise and experienced enough to give it a name. This is a very strategic manoeuvre done by a man who had encountered this foe for many years and still does. He probably figured that it was about time to not succumb to its petrifying force anymore and accept his hero’s journey.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Overcoming the feeling of surmounting resistance is a quintessential skill for mastering life Not just for achieving results in your work but to also conquer any other obstacle that you will come across. If you can’t even control your own reaction to fear, then you won’t be able to respond to outside challenges either.
You get scared and feel resistance because your current mode of being is too comfortable. Facing the challenges of your work and the dark side of your ego creates turmoil, which you are not willing to voluntarily overcome. But if you want to achieve anything extraordinary then you need to make the decision to become great and voluntarily venture into the fray.
The key to overcoming resistance lies in taking massive action. As you begin to move towards fear rather than away from it you’re manifesting your inner courageous lion who gets what it desires. This will make fear diminish in size. The more you move towards it the smaller it gets. You only need to take the plunge and have enough willpower to persevere through it for just a bit longer.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear but the ability to act in spite of it.
Fear vs Regret
Resistance is scary and incredibly uncomfortable. But I want you to think for a moment how long it actually lasts for. Imagine yourself feeling fear turning your guts inside out. It’s nauseating but not painful. Once you take the plunge it gets slightly better. On the other hand, if you don’t get it over with, regret will begin to haunt you. Now, this sensation does not only cause discomfort and anxiety but is also accompanied by a lot of emotional pain and sorrow. What if?
The pain of doing it lasts for a minute or an hour, but the pain of doing it will follow you for the rest of your life. (Click to Tweet) What if… indeed. To not have to ask yourself what could have been, if you had managed to muster enough courage to act upon your dreams, you need to simply put in massive amounts of effort.
Today’s comfortable modern society has done its youth an unintentional disservice with huge consequences on their mindset. People think that they’re supposed to get what they want without having to put in any effort. Such feeling of entitlement is based on having a victim mentality – the world is happening to me – the innocent child – and evil forces are out to get us.
Pressfield has another book called Do the Work, in which he talks about overcoming resistance. You have to do exactly that: do the work that’s necessary for your dreams to turn into fruition.
Realize this: If you dare to have any aspirations, then be willing to also accept the work that is required for achieving your goals. Acknowledge the fact that you can create your own reality, but also accept the consequences of that.
Are You an Amateur or a Pro?
What Pressfield also recognizes is that those who accomplish great things in their art and vocation all act despite the feeling of resistance. They experience as much fear and anxiety but still put in the necessary effort. Guess what, he has yet another book called Turning Pro – the man is just an ice-cold killer when it comes to facing resistance.
What separates the PRO from the amateur.
- An amateur is someone who loves what they do but hasn’t committed to it completely. They have a passion they’re working on but at the same time don’t take it as seriously as to sacrifice some comfort.
- A pro on the other hand loves his craft even more because of having dedicated themselves to it wholeheartedly. They know that in order to achieve their greatest work, they need to acknowledge resistance, stop procrastinating and just do it.
To achieve greatness in your life, you have to turn pro. You can’t expect to get extraordinary results if you half-ass it and put in just enough effort. A professional does what they do because that’s what they’re meant to do. You wouldn’t ask Mozart why he continued creating symphonies or why Einstein did a lot of physics. Their craft was a part of their soul and something who they already were – they were innately productive.
Choose to Become Great
To turn PRO you have to
- First know thyself. Who the hell are you? What are you passionate about and what gets you out of bed? If you love your craft, then you shouldn’t need any motivation to cultivate it.
- Secondly, you have to make a decision of manifesting your greatness. It’s a matter of choices all around – how much power you choose to give to fear, what you choose to do in spite of it and who you choose to become as a result of that.
Wherever you are in life right now, you’re there because of the choices you’ve made.
- What habits have you chosen to develop – which bad ones to drop and good ones to pick up?
- Who are the people you’ve chosen to surround yourself with – are they helping you become your greatest being or are they dragging you down?
- What activities do you choose to do on a daily basis – the ones that promote growth or stagnation?
Of course, you’ll encounter resistance here and there, but the pro ignores it and uses fear as leverage to receive even more energy. They don’t procrastinate for nothing, unless it’s done strategically.
How to Make Better Decisions
Making better decisions in any situation depends on your level of awareness – how conscious you are in the present moment. It’s rising above the circuit at an instance, noticing yourself in the midst of chaos, reflecting on your situation and choosing the right course of action.
Realize this: your emotions aren’t truthful. They’re more like subjective false narratives about your current circumstances that exist only in your head. Rather than them being a part of your true self, they get created by your crocodile brain and monkey mind who high-jack your rationality.
Your emotions are lies because they’re not always in congruence with the higher self-aware part of yourself – the one that has chosen to turn pro and become great.
Fear and negative emotions are like a gauntlet for achievement. Your subconscious mind is checking in upon you whether you have enough guts and discipline to stay true to the path. External obstacles and difficult situations are also nothing else but the world testing you to see whether you have what it takes to rise to the challenge. Your mindset determines the way you perceive turmoil, resistance, fear, what can be done and who you can become – your entire reality.
To not succumb to resistance, you have to learn to ignore your emotions. This is achieved yet again by taking massive action. There is no way around it other than through it. Becoming your greatest self and getting magnificent results entails the death of who you currently are. The shadow will die but you will be reborn and apotheosized into the divine.
Live to Your Fullest Potential
Resistance is very real, at least in our head. Whether or not it becomes the ultimate petrifying force impeding your path to glory depends on how much power you choose to give it.
It’s accompanied by fear and anxiety, but those things are actually good because
- they show that what you’re doing actually matters to you,
- you’re trying to improve your craft and get better
- and are heading in the right direction.
Pressfield has written amazing books about overcoming resistance, which I would advise everyone, who wants to live to their potential, read.
Make sure to check out my YouTube channel as well. I make videos about Body Mind Empowerment, which is about improving your physical, mental and spiritual performance – it’s self-actualization writ large.