Where are you experiencing resistance?
This week I have been thinking a lot about the topic of resistance – creatively, as well as in pretty much every other area of life, career, business and health. Basically, whenever we aim to reach for new heights in an area that's important to us, resistance is that inexplicable thing that comes up. It can't be seen, or heard, but it can be felt. It's the thing that holds us back, that makes us trip up, and that causes us to sabotage our own efforts through annoying techniques like procrastination, fear and self-doubt, and repeating habits that don't serve us.
In his incredible book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield identifies the concept of Resistance (yes, he uses the word with a capital ‘R’!) when it comes to creativity, and I’m going to quote him from the book because it was so powerful for me to read personally:
“Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still, small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times before, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.
You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art, pp.20-21
Does this resonate with you? It certainly does for me.
I believe that everyone has creativity in them that, if left unexplored, will eat them up inside in some way. This could be in any form of art - or it could be a sport, or entrepreneurial pursuit. Whatever it is for you, you'll intrinsically know it.
I know that I have many creative pursuits inside me that I haven’t yet brought to fruition. I almost sort-of gave up on writing because I felt like I had a career, and I'd created a business, so I figured, wasn't I busy enough? Not necessarily. Because I was avoiding the one thing that I resisted the most, and...
Whatever we resist the most is what we need to pursue.
What are you resisting the most in your life?
I believe that we need to create not for the glory, or for money, or for the fame that it could (could being the operative word here!) bring, but in order to save ourselves. Because if we don’t fulfill our creative potential, there will be repercussions. Because I believe that our purpose here, the meaning of our existence if you will, comes down to a) figuring out what it was that we were put here on earth to do, and b) actually doing it.
Because the hardest part of any creation is not coming up with the creation itself – it’s in the sitting down to do the work. A concept so perfectly articulated by Steven Pressfield.
The fact is, it can be so hard to sit down and do the work – but it’s also simple. It seems so simple to sit down and write, for example, that I always put it off – telling myself that there are so many more important things to do.
Once I actually sit down to write, I enjoy it, but there is a love/hate relationship there.
It feels almost uncomfortable to maintain the discipline to pursue a project that I’m passionate about – almost as though I am not worthy of it, or I should really be doing ‘other’ things. Things that require 'hard work'.
This is all resistance. And it’s only when I sit down to actually do the work, no matter how uncomfortable it is, that I feel like all is right in my world. Short-term pain for long-term gain.
Is there something that you’ve wanted to do for a long time, a passion or skill that you know deep in your heart is tugging at you, but that you have been resisting?
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