Friday, December 6, 2013

In Transition – Resistance

In his wonderful book, The War of Art – Steven Pressfield talks about resistance – that insidious force that inhibits our growth and keeps us stuck. 

Resistance is what kicks in when we are trying to make substantial changes – whether it is pursuing a calling in a creative field, launching our own business or making a huge commitment like getting married or having a child. 

When we are in its grip, resistance feels completely personal, as if we are the only person on earth terrified of making that giant leap. But resistance is universal and impersonal. Pressfield says: “It doesn’t know who you are and doesn’t care. Resistance is a force of nature.”  That’s something to remember when we are summoning up our courage to confront it. Everyone on earth faces resistance. 

What’s useful to us is that resistance unfailingly points the path that we are called to walk on. Pressfield gives us a rule of thumb: “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.” “If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.” If we are paralyzed and scared out of our wits, that’s our sign to start moving. But how do we judge that what we are experiencing is, in fact, resistance and not healthy fear? 

Pressfield gives us some clues. One of them is that resistance only obstructs in one direction – when we are moving from a lower to a higher level and never the other way around. “So if you’re in Calcutta and working with the Mother Teresa Foundation and you’re thinking of bolting to launch a career in telemarketing...relax. Resistance will give you a free pass.” And if we are close to completing something, close to the finish line, and then sabotage ourselves, that’s resistance too. In fact, that’s when resistance is most powerful – when we are close to defeating it.

For many of us, resistance shows up in the form of procrastination. We keep on delaying the next action, telling ourselves that we’ll do it tomorrow. What we don’t tell ourselves is that today is as good a day as any to start and that the conditions are never going to be perfect. We are in the middle of our messy, imperfect lives and we will always be in the middle of our messy, imperfect lives. We might not be perfectly prepared, but it is also true that no amount of preparation gives us the ability to foresee and control the future. The only way to combat Resistance is to feel our fear, stay with our fear, and move ahead in spite of our fear. If and when we can do that, we can escape the tragedy of what Pressfield calls “The Unlived Life,” a life where we knew who we could be, but we didn't quite get to becoming all of that.   


  1. I am reading about loyalty... haha... consumer loyalty to brands --- High Loyalty consumers are extremely resistance to change.. attitudinally loyal-- they are resistant to conflicting information about the brands that are loyal to.... :)