Resistance > The Task Itself
When it comes to accomplishing great things, there's a pattern I'm finding:
Our fears grow larger than what really is, and this keeps us stuck all too often.
My resistance is always larger than the task before me.
Whether a challenging circumstance erupts in the moment or I have set a big goal for myself, the primary task is not the apparent challenge, it is facing my resistance and embracing what is.
This does not mean it will all be easy, and there are certain endeavors that we can underestimate, but the real feat lies in training our thoughts to meet the demands of what is, instead of carrying the imagined weight and getting stuck. Our resistance (or getting in our own way)is a function of our survival brain. The more quickly we can step back and see things objectively, the further and faster we will fly forward. Sometimes I take the time to inquire into my resistance. What am I resisting? Why? What part of me is reacting to this? I can ask honestly ask without judgment, keeping myself in a state of curiosity. Writing this book involved many days where it felt easier to do ANYTHING but write. Run, workout, stretch, plan a workshop, write a blog, talk to all the people…. Anything but sit and write my book. Even as I would get closer to realizing an idea, I would resist putting it on paper, resist the outlining, resist the actual work that creates the book I dream of making.
I remind myself: Write. Write now. Get it out of my head and heart and onto paper. Maybe the section I wrote today sucks. Maybe there is still so much more to be expressed and teased out, and I am barely scratching the surface. Well, at least I know that much more. Had I not written, had I continued to resist the process, the bottlenecking will continue and there will not be space for the next idea, the next page, the next step. Clearing the cue isn’t just a cute way to stay up to date on my writing, it’s part of how I live my life.
Think about running uphill.
There are so many ways to do it. I could start out running, get discouraged and give up. I could slow and slacken my pace. I could grit my teeth and get up the hill as fast as I can while missing the joy of the run. Or, I can run light and fast with a heart full of joy. I can find my focus and fix my feelings. Sometimes it just sucks. It feels like a slog. Whatever the cocoon you are in is or the process you’ve begun, it won’t always feel amazing. I have days that feel like a dream when I’m writing and days that feel like I’m regurgitating uninteresting thoughts and meaningless chatter. I can become resistant, depressed, downtrodden, and I can give up and “walk,” or I can do my best to reconnect with my purpose, reconnect with joy, fuel my stride and run forward in love.
Amidst all the examples, perhaps the most basic and central invitation is to love.
Maybe when the author of 1 John wrote "there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear," they were also getting at our resistance. There is no resistance in love, only acceptance.
When in a state of love, I can be calm enough internally to recognize my resistance, accept it for what it is, and choose to move forward anyway.
When I recognize that the biggest forces getting in the way of my meaningful work are not "out there" but are within me, the conversation shifts. Instead of waiting for circumstances to align, I work to align my priorities. Instead of staying busy with other things, I can settle in to face the feelings of resistance and what is really driving them. I can feel it all, observe it all, see my default switches toward procrastination and perfectionism, then do what is before me.
My resistance is always larger than the task is difficult. Or, to say it differently: The situation at hand is always made larger by my resistance to it.
Sometimes even small steps can feel like a leap. Let's feel the resistance and fear where it comes and step forward into a great story.