Embracing, Understanding, and Navigating around Resistance
Are you putting anything off?
Is there something you’re putting off that is really important to you as an artist, important to having the career you’ve always dreamed of having and yet….you just can’t make yourself do it?
Say hello to Resistance.
You might as well get to know this character in your life. It’s an obstacle for any artist pursuing what they love.
So let’s name it, understand it, and learn how to overcome Resistance in our lives.
What are the symptoms of Resistance?
Feeling bored and restless at the same time.
Feeling plagued by guilt but can’t quite put your finger on why.
Indulging in time-wasting habits you know are not good for you.
If you find yourself spending a lot of time in this space, you are most likely facing internal resistance.
What is Resistance?
The author that first named the term Resistance, especially as it shows up in the lives of creative people is Steven Pressfield in the War of Art.
He defines resistance as anything that stands in the way of achieving your goals and higher aspirations.
Can’t sit down to write that opera? Can’t send that email to a dream collaborator? Haven’t called for a quote on that album you want to record?
If this is you – you’ve met resistance head-on.
And here’s the tricky, terrible thing about resistance. If something is really important to you, the more it matters to you, the more resistance there will be.
What is the cause of Resistance?
Well, this sucks. Why would I sabotage the one thing I most want to do?
Resistance comes up when we have to put off immediate gratification (hello, cookie break!) in favor of long-term growth.
Activities that foster long-term growth are a veritable who’s-who of things we avoid:
- Starting a new exercise program
- Learning a new skill
- Any courageous act like reaching out for help or telling a truth about ourselves
As artists and creators we have a reputation for procrastination, avoidance, and emotional turmoil.
That’s because we are determined to do what we love for our career. Our work matters intensely to us and to the growth of our soul.
We as artists face the strongest resistance to our work because our work is so vitally important to who we are as human beings.
How does Resistance show up in your life?
Here are the top 10 ways resistance shows up in our lives, keeping us from doing the work that we truly want to do to accomplish our dreams.
Meet the enemy:
- Comparing ourselves to others
- Criticizing others
- Taking challenges too harshly or as a sign that we should change course
- Seeing ourselves as a victim
- Excessive drama in our lives
This is the opposite of our best selves or living our best lives.
We know when we’re doing it.
If you haven’t noticed before, start taking note when you exhibit the behaviors above.
These behaviors can be a big, red flashing sign that what you’re avoiding is really important to you.
How do I overcome Resistance?
#1 Challenge Limiting Beliefs
Do you have a story about how you’re not good enough to achieve something? How the world won’t support you in your goals?
Do you have stories and evidence to back this up?
I bet you can find evidence that proves the opposite – that you are good enough to achieve this and that the world does support you in your goals.
When your thoughts tell you that you can’t achieve something that you would love to do, challenge that assumption.
#2 Reframe Challenges as Opportunities
Any obstacle contains an opportunity.
If you’re going to successfully deal with an obstacle in your path, you’re going to have to grow.
Depending on the challenge, you may have to build
- New Skills
What will this challenge help you cultivate in yourself?
#3 Create a Habit of Action
Few forces in human behavior are stronger than the power of habit.
Do you turn left or right when you walk out of your front door? Do you even notice setting down your keys when you walk inside?
Build the most important activities to the growth and development of your soul into your daily activities and you’ll have a powerful force on your side driving you towards what you most want to do.
#4 Expect Fear, Challenges, and Resistance
Don’t just expect fear, challenges, and resistance – celebrate when you see them!
Because what does this trifecta of potential misery mean?
That you are on the right track in the long-term pursuit of your goals.
Obviously, I’m not advocating that you throw common sense out the window.
If there’s a car coming at you, move!
But the fear before you send an email? That means this is important to you and moving through that fear is probably the most important thing you’ll do today.
#5 Set Reasonable Goals
Don’t let the initial flurry of excitement that comes with a new project fool you into an unachievable timeline.
You’re in this for the long haul.
Plan for a marathon, not a sprint.
#6 Self Validate
Focus on the work you love and let the critiques and accolades fall where they may.
If you achieve what you set out to do, if you did something courageous for you, if you made something beautiful – celebrate!
Look inward for the praise and appreciation you hope to receive.
#7 Separate Your “Who” from Your “Do”
Criticism can be absolutely devastating for artists who think their art is the essence of their souls.
You are a worthy and wonderful human being and should not reduce yourself to any artistic project.
The more you can see your art as the product of your efforts and not the essence of who you are, the easier it will be to disregard praise and criticism and focus on the work itself.
Focusing on the work is the key to creating what is most important to you and that you want to see out in the world.
#8 Focus on Service
Without regard to the outcome of your efforts – the review of your album may be glowing or panned – remember who you are serving through your art.
Who do you want to reach?
How do you want them to feel when they experience your art?
You love what you do and you are putting that love out into the world for others to enjoy.
Making art is an act of service to your fellow human beings.
Remember them when times get tough and the road is rocky.
Take a Deep Breath and…
Do something you’ve been avoiding. You’ll be so glad you did.