You know what you want to do.
Well, roughly. You might not know specifics, but you have a pretty good idea of what you want.
You know what you need to do to get there.
You know enough. You might not know exactly what you need to do to get there, but you know in which direction to march.
So why aren’t you getting there?
Here’s the deal. When you do creative + soulful work, Resistance shows up. Stephen Pressfield wrote a book about it called The War of Art.
Disclaimer: I love Pressfield’s characterization of Resistance but I don’t agree with his solution. He’s about the fight. As in war. Hence, The War of Art. I’m not into that. I believe in yielding to win. I’m a cheerleader for love and acceptance. Which doesn’t mean I let my problems run my life. It doesn’t mean I’m a pansy. Rather, yielding with love and acceptance is the fastest and most effective way I know to get through and “conquer” anything. That said, here’s Pressfield on Resistance:
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet,campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.
Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be.
This is why most people don’t create what they long for. Resistance shows up and they don’t know how to deal with it.
Pressfield calls it Resistance. I call it Stuff. Also known as issues, bullshit, blocks, gremlins, lizard brain.
The difference between people who do their Work and people who don’t:
People who do their Work, face their Stuff.
People who don’t do their Work, don’t face their Stuff. They play the Not Enough game. They claim that they don’t have:
- Enough time
- Enough information
- Enough training
- Enough clarity
But really it’s because when they sit down to do their Work, they feel bad. They don’t want to feel bad, so they stop working. Their Stuff goes back into hiding. Instead of feeling the fear and the Resistance that goes along with soulful work, they feel bad in a different way. It’s not as acutely uncomfortable as when you’re sitting down to write or meditate or publish your website. But in its place is dissatisfaction and overwhelm.
Most personal development peeps will tell you to power through your procrastination.
Not me. Powering through won’t solve the problem. It might get you into action temporarily, but it won’t last.
Procrastination carries holy messages. Listen.
When you’re not doing the thing you want to do, there’s a good reason. It’s not that you’re a flake or a loser. Even though you might play one online.
Dealing with Resistance is a spiritual path
When you face and deal with your gremlins you become clearer, brighter, more spiritually evolved.
You get happier.
You create more cool stuff.
The What, Why, How approach to overcoming Resistance:
This is a basic guide to dealing with it. If you follow this advice, you will learn a lot about yourself and be stronger for it. If you tell yourself you want to make an impact but you have a hard time getting past dreaming to actually create something that matters, this simple approach will keep you moving.
- Get clear on What your problem is. The importance of this step is underrated in the personal development literature. Everyone wants to sell you a 7 step solution to instant awesomization. You don’t need to be awesome. You need to tell yourself the truth about what you’re really upset about.
- Find out Why you’re blocked. Fuzziness and lack of clarity are symptoms of believing something that isn’t true. Trace the source of your block to 1 of 4 places: desire, overwhelm, process, relationships. Look in those 4 areas and see which feels the closest to your problem.
- Figure out How to overcome it. This is the least important step. When you have 1 and 2 taken care of, 3 mostly takes care of itself. If you have trouble sticking with the solutions you find or purchase, it’s probably because you aren’t clear on what your problem really is and why you have it. Clear those up and your solution will be easy. One of the reasons it’s easy to panic and buy a bunch books on Amazon or another coaching program is because you’re not clear on what you need a solution to. Oh, I know. I know you rehearse the problem over and over in your mind. But just because you tell yourself something repeatedly doesn’t make it true.
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