“Is there a feeling, a person, a thought, a project that you have been avoiding? Is there some part of your life that you’re refusing to deal with or open up to? Is there something you’re resisting, something that makes you stubbornly say no? Ignore the voice that says, ‘This is how I decided it will be, so I will close off to that part; I will not consider it.’ That is the voice of resistance.”
While I wish I could take credit for those words, I can’t. They were written by Melody Beattie, author of one of my favorite books, Journey To The Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul.
When I read those words sparks went off in my brain. It was like the 4th of July in there! That voice was my voice for a long time and if I had to guess, you probably have a similar narrator in your mind.
Resistance has caused me to stay in bad jobs, bad relationships, bad friendships and frankly bad states of being. As someone who is loyal and committed to near fault, I have a hard time “uncommitting”, pulling the plug even when I know without a doubt it’s time to walk away. If I’m being honest, it’s not as selfless as it sounds. I wish I could say I’m just a genuinely amazing person and I simply love too deeply. While it’s true that I’m deeply loving, I’m also a recovering people pleaser, a competitive one at that. Winning people over and feeling that sense of validation was so important to me that I often fought a lot harder than I should have for people and projects.
In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield describes resistance like this: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” People pleasing and the need for validation are my loudest my voices of resistance, but it comes in many, many forms. Resistance can look like:
If you’ve never read The War of Art, pick it up. Steven gets all up in your business about how you’re letting resistance crush your spirit and your dreams. You’re especially vulnerable to resistance if you’re a creative, entrepreneur, or trying to make any kind of positive change in your life. So, yeah, you’re probably vulnerable.
Name the dragon. To overcome your favorite form of resistance, you have to recognize it. Name it, learn about it, talk about it. Awareness is the key to any kind of transformation, including overcoming resistance. Understanding how you work, what you want, what’s lacking that you need to thrive and what’s holding you back is how you actually get that life you’re dreaming of. It’s not the rights of passage we often think of like getting married, having children, or getting promoted. Yes, those experiences are wonderful, but they won’t feel like you want them to if they aren’t aligned with who you are and what you want. Sadly, “Me 101” isn’t an actual college course (it wasn’t any way), so it’s your responsibility to figure that stuff out, including the forms of resistance that drag you down. The earlier you do, the better off you’ll be.
Use resistance as a muse. Once you’ve named your favorite form of resistance, use it to take itself out. You know, a little hair of the dog. Perhaps just thinking about how it feels when you’re in the spiral of resistance is enough to pull you back from the ledge, but you might need a little more than that to really drive it out.
Say rationalization is your drug of choice. Take it, but with a different perspective in mind. For example, let’s say you’re convinced a concept is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You know why it’s wrong, you can prove it, and you feel anyone that believes it’s right is an idiot. Now, switch it up. Wholeheartedly take on the perspective of the person that believes the concept is right. Do all the research you can to rationalize that point of view. Will it feel super uncomfortable? Yep. Will your body want to full force reject it? Uh huh. So what’s the point? You’ll break your cycle of resistance. This isn’t about changing your mind; it’s about challenging your mind. Challenging your mind to see things in a different way. To prove to yourself that there’s another way to be in the world, that the possibility for change, growth and success exists. Then, the next time rationalization tries to stall your growth, you’ll remember how pushing through it opened you up to new information, new people and new ideas that elevated your thinking. In the end, whether or not you changed your viewpoint is irrelevant; rising above resistance is the real takeaway.
Don’t go all in. Ok, if you’re an all-in, never fizzle kind of a person then by all means, go all in. If you are a fizzler, don’t. Commit to taking baby steps to overcome your resistance. Once you’re committed, you need a plan and support. Make a plan you won’t get bored with (not too much or too little pressure) and ask someone to help you stay on track. That part is really important. It can be a family member, a coach, or a mentor, it doesn’t matter. It just needs to be someone that can help you follow through. Accountability drives success, and being accountable to someone other than yourself is really effective, especially for us people pleasers.
CTFD. Yes, Calm The F Down! Stop trying to control everything. Having a life that feels fluid and aligned takes a dose of commitment, a dose of patience, and a dose of flexibility. It’s a dance. If you don’t know it, your resistance will paralyze you, but if you do, you’ll win the Mirrorball Trophy. Learning the dance takes practice, so it could take a while to get right. Just keep trying, you’ll figure it out. And to confuse things even more, everything (parenting, self-care, career) has a different dance. Not to worry though, awareness is the basic two-step; it’s the rhythm that changes. Meditation can help you quiet down and listen so you can find the rhythm that works more quickly.
Now that you know, it’s time to grow. Fight the resistance and start doing what lights you up and makes you feel great. Sure, you can overcome on your own, but don’t waste any more time. Ask for help. There are books, courses and people to help you on your journey of self-awareness and overall wellness, so take advantage of them. Now get out there and slay those dragons!
Stephanie Cunningham is founder of RevelationU, a firm dedicated to helping professionals achieve next level growth through self-awareness and mindfulness. Stephanie is a Certified Professional Coach, meditation teacher and 20 year student of mindfulness. Before starting RevelationU, Stephanie held sales, marketing and training positions in her 20 year career as a business professional. Learn more about RevelationU and Stephanie at revelationu.com.
Originally published at www.linkedin.com