What is Resistance?
You start a new career. You put down the initial roots into a new business venture. Or you begin a challenge, a program, a new health habit. Whatever it may be, you are passionate about it. You are excited. You are delighted to be doing it.
Maybe it’s a writing project toward your book. Maybe it’s a fabulous online business. Maybe it’s building something using your hands. Maybe it’s learning a new language.
Deep down, there is no question whatsoever that you want to do this. If I were to ask you how you feel about it, or why you are doing this, your face changes. You smile wide, your eyes light up as you tell me all 50 plus reasons that have led you here, how it is so good for you to be doing this, and how you have even re-arranged your priorities and obligations around it.
Sounds great, right?
Then what’s the problem?
The problem is in the actual doing. And I don’t mean the first time doing. I mean the consistent doing.
The problem is when the initial excitement evaporates after a time and you find yourself feeling unenthusiastic at the whole prospect.
The problem is that it gets harder and harder to sit down to the work day in and day out, week in and week out.
How can this be when this is the project or the work you were madly in love with? How is it that now you waver where before you were a bundle of uncontainable excitement? Why would you feel this way about something that you so badly want?
Why would you not commit to this dream business, this exciting habit, or this new challenge when nobody has forced you into it and when you have come here of your own free accord?
Meet resistance. Your nemesis. Your worst nightmare. Your quietest enemy.
It is that inner critic that gives you great reasons why today, you should totally skip the work.
This is how resistance sounds in your ears: You are tired. You feel cranky. You deserve a break. You don’t have to do it because you are the boss of you. It’s a little too much and a bit too late for you to be doing such things.
And on and on and on it goes, building a strong case as to why today is just not a good day to bother with your dream pursuit.
This is how resistance feels in your body (after you have given in to it in your ears): You just don’t feel like doing it at all. Period. You just don’t *feel like it*.
Have you ever felt that way?
Understanding the Force of Resistance First
Resistance is one of your greatest challenges as you change old habits, build new habits, pursue a passion or set a goal or challenge for yourself and it fights a brutal cruel battle.
Everything is fair game when resistance comes out to meet you. It is there to mock you, to knock you down and laugh at you. It is even known to twist logic and rationale to the point that you can’t help but agree with it.
To what end though? At the end of the day, you are pitiful and angry at yourself because you fell for all its terrible tricks. By then its too late. Another day has passed. Another opportunity lost. Another time that resistance won over what you really, really want.
Resistance is the part of you that acts like it’s in charge but in fact has no clue what’s right for you and what feeds your soul.
You can separate yourself from this force because resistance has no power over you if you just use the right tools and resources to make it disappear.
Remember: What you want is on the other side of resistance. All you have to do is get over to the other side, darling. And on this journey, you are not going to work hard so much as you are going to concentrate hard.
Resistance looks like a wall, and it looks scary at first. Your safe bet would be to sit down and give in to the wall and accept its terms.
But when you look closely, you can see that the wall is just an illusion. It is a fantasy. A hallucination. A figment of your imagination at its worst.
If you open your eyes and take a deep breath, and assess your true situation, you shall not find a wall. The wall only lives in your head, and that’s the first secret to disarm the resistance.
Resistance is real, stop avoiding it, yes, but it is only as real as your thoughts and your dreams at night. You know for certain that you have thoughts and that you dream at night but you also know that you have the power to change your thoughts and let go of your dreams in the morning light.
That is the knowledge you need to use when resistance is pushing for attention. That’s the knowledge you need to remind yourself when it pokes and pushes at your most vulnerable parts and you end up saying things like, “I can’t do this!”, “I am feeling lazy!”, “I just don’t feel like it.” and on and on.
Pushing Past the Resistance with a 7-Step Process Every Single Time
When you hear the voices of resistance rising up inside you, do not deny them or fight them. It will fight you back. Listen to every single bit of it, let it pour out in an ugly mess. In fact, they say that the louder the voices of resistance, the closer you may be to a breakthrough on your journey, so be particularly mindful of the level of resistance you feel.
Then let’s push past it. I give you this 7-step process in the exact order that helps me tremendously in pushing past this nasty terrible resistance every single time. You may stop after second or fourth step and that may be all you need or you may go through all steps. And each time you apply it, your results may vary. Use it to your best judgement:
Step #1: If resistance has not yet shown up, do your work now. Beat the tyrant at its own game and outsmart it by showing up earlier to do your work. If you practice yoga at 6pm and your resistance usually hits you by 5:45, practice at 5 and throw it off balance.
Step #2: If you are hearing the dim voices of resistance, then put yourself on total autopilot as you begin to hear the dim voices of resistance. Autopilot means that you are not analyzing or thinking about the work or task at hand. You are doing it without a second thought. Yes, it is something you love. Yes, it is one of your dreams, but get started on autopilot and don’t make such a big fuss about it.
Step #3: If resistance comes to you loud and clear, then stop and listen carefully and repeat the voices of resistance so you make them tangible and real. For instance, I am tired and I don’t feel like doing my yoga practice today.
Step #4: Then ask resistance a question from The Work by Byron Katie: “Is it absolutely true that I am tired and don’t feel like doing my yoga practice today?” and be honest with yourself? Can you be absolutely sure or is it possible that you may be mistaken?
Step #5: If you feel resistance dissolving, go to 2nd step and put yourself on autopilot and start your work right away.
Step #6: If you feel resistance growing stronger, and ignoring your attempts to reason with it as in the 4th step, then just ask for a mediator. That’s right, you ask resistance the permission to bring in a mediator before you give up on the whole thing. Your mediator is a 10-minute meditation practice where you ask the question “Is it absolutely true….?” and meditate on that.
Step #7:If you come out of the 6th step from your meditation, and you still absolutely and positively want to give in to resistance, do so on one condition. Promise yourself to examine the whole situation: your work, your dream pursuit, your tasks, and see if you have been too hard and demanding on yourself. Then tone down one aspect of your routine, modify it and start anew the next day.
How I Apply the 7-Step Process to Outsmart Resistance
I apply the 7-step process to my grueling and yet blissful yoga practice.
In October 2012, I started practicing Ashtanga yoga which is a disciplined system of yoga developed by Guruji Pattabhi Jois. After 10 years of yoga practices and searching for the right style of yoga, I found home instantly in Ashtanga. There are 6 series in the Ashtanga path of yoga and most devotees do not get past the primary or secondary series. It takes years to master the first series, and the commitment? You are supposed to do this practice between five to six days a week except on moon days. The primary series takes 90 minutes to 2 hours on average to complete. Sometimes, it takes me a wee bit longer.
That is what I signed up for. Of my own will. With complete awareness and understanding and on top of a very busy life schedule. So you can imagine, my resistance is strong and intense, and yet, applying the 7 step process has given me tools to disarm my resistance.
At first, I had to understand what on earth was happening. After going through a dozen lies – I am too old, I have a bad knee, I am not as flexible, I am not as strong, I am not made for this, and why would anyone do this to themselves – I was able to identify this force as nothing more than resistance. Then I was able to meet it as such.
Now, I take note of when the resistance tends to show up. Is it the night before I set my alarm? Is it the morning of when I need to get dressed and go? Is it the showing up on the mat? Is it during those moments of contemplation and over-analysis when I pause between poses and re-calculate my decision?
It never ever fails. After my yoga practice, I am infinitely happier, more fulfilled, more joyous and closer to my vision of integrating Ashtanga into who I am and who I am becoming. It goes to prove that resistance wants the worst, not the best, for us.
On the flip side, after giving in to resistance, I feel disgusted, unhappy, taken advantage of and beyond reproach! Oh my!
This process has taught me so much about my particular resistance so now I can meet it savvy and prepared like a peaceful warrior who has already won.
The same goes for you. The more you can learn about your exact resistance, the less it will catch you off-guard. And over time, you will regain your will power and regroup yourself just as you feel it rising inside you, and it will take you minutes if not seconds to disarm that resistance and to go about your business…. the pursuit of that vision that you know is what you really want.
So there you have it, my secrets in disarming that nasty resistance that builds up in my belly and tries to keep me away from what I love to do. What do you do to meet and beat yours? Share in the comments.