On Overcoming Resistance & Doing Hard Things
I’m currently reading a book called The War of Art.
It explores this idea of ‘Resistance’ and how a negative energy exists to push us back whenever we try to improve ourselves.
For some, ‘improving ourselves’ means achieving a long-held fitness goal. For others, it could be learning to be better with money, or putting more effort into studying. For me, it’s the act of writing.
Even though I say I love stringing words together and creating beautiful sentences, most of the time, it’s hard. Like, really hard. With every blog post that hits your screen, it’s taken me hours of agonising and stressing to get the words exactly right. A typical writing session involves me berating myself over being a bad storyteller and tearing myself apart over whether I should add a comma or a semi-colon. There are tears and panicked phone calls to friends before I can finally produce a post that’s worthy of being published.
Knowing all this, it’s borderline painful to pull up a blank page each week and put myself through the same
torture creative process each week. All I want to do is duck under the covers and hide.
According to the book, running and hiding is exactly what we do when we encounter ‘resistance.’ Our immediate response is to procrastinate.
I’m the self-proclaimed queen of procrastination. I’d rather watch all 4 seasons of Queer Eye on Netflix or dance solo in my living room instead of sitting in front of the blank page. I was exactly the same in uni. I’d start my assignments weeks in advance – not because I was hyper organised, but because I knew I had to give myself enough buffer time to procrastinate.
As I dived more into the pages of the book, the author states that we feel the most ‘resistance’ when we’re working on a project we know is worth pursuing. We know deep down how pivotal this goal, so our natural reaction is to fear it and put it off.
I have pages and pages of unfinished drafts sitting on my computer because I’m too scared to finish them off. These drafts are on topics I know I need to share, but it’ll also require me to relive painful memories and face harsh truths. I’m scared my pieces will receive negative reactions that’ll make me want to curl up in a ball and never write again. Even worse, I’m scared it’ll actually receive brilliant reactions and I’ll have to keep producing the same calibre of work in order to meet people’s expectations.
Does anyone else feel like a bundle of walking contradictions?
But I digress.
I haven’t finished the book yet.
In fact, I’m feeling a huge weight of resistance towards finishing the book (ha). It’s probably because I know that once I’ve read it from cover to cover, I’ll have to commit to doing the work and overcoming my resistance.
I write this today because I know there are so many of you out there who have been putting things off for way too long. You needed to start studying for exams two weeks ago. You told yourself you would start running more but your runners are still sitting in the box it came in. You need to call out the guy who’s trying to brush you off and demand an explanation.
If the author of the book is right, then you’re putting it off because it’s hard and you’re scared of the aftermath. You’re scared to find out that you know less about the subject than you thought or you’re more unfit than you realise. You’re petrified that the guy you’re calling out is going to tell all his friends that you’re crazy.
But sooner or later, we have to put our foot down and just do the damn thing. We have to make a decision to leave behind the things that hold us back and push forward.
This week, commit to one miniscule step that will help you overcome resistance and move towards your goal. Download the lecture recoding. Take your runners out of the box. Draft the text message that calls him out for his bad behaviour.
Then, commit to another miniscule task right after that. Listen to the half of the lecture. Move your runners besides your front door. Send your draft text to a friend and ask if they think you should send it (Spoiler alert: yes, you should).
After that, rinse and repeat.
By committing to one small action at a time, we’re slowly dismantling resistance and reducing it to a wisp.
At least, I think that’s what’s supposed to happen.