Resistance is a tricky customer. It shows up in multiple disguises, halting and deflecting all creative endeavors. When the path to channeling your creative flow , in the form of a Novel, essay, Blog Post or piece of Music, is so straightforward, how is it that we often find ourselves struggling to meet our goals and ambitions?
The answer lies in understanding the enemy, Resistance.
I recently re-read Steven Pressfield’s book titled ‘The War of Art’. In the title, Pressfield navigates the reader through the concept of Resistance. The mysterious force that stands between the life we live and the unlived life that we constantly chase, the Creative Life. It’s been often said through the ages that we create our own reality. Resistance, as Pressfield explains, is what holds us back from aligning with that reality. Resistance is a shapeshifter, showing up as self-doubt one day, laziness on another or adopting opinions of friends and family to stop the creative flow. Resistance will urge you to have an extra glass of wine, sleep in late or grab dessert to lead you to avoid your calling.
When world renowned author Robert Mckee attempted to start writing a new book, Resistance convinced him to try on every piece of clothing in his closet first!
Pressfield highlights that Adolf Hitler wanted to be an artist. Ever seen one of his paintings? None of us have! Resistance, beat him. It was easier for him to start World War II than stare at a blank canvas.
So how do we overcome Resistance? How does one wake up, take a quantum leap outside of living a life that is unfulfilled and bleak?
As Pressfield says, by embracing and accepting it. By not resisting Resistance. The more resistance you face with regards to a project, venture or creative output, the more important it is to you. The more gratification you would feel once you finish it. Resistance in fact serves as the guide to our true north! If a pursuit both excites you and terrifies you, it's probably worth pursuing. As beyond it lies true liberation.
The next step would be to face Resistance. Navy Seal commander Mark Divine tells new Navy Seal recruits that they’re all walking around with two invisible wolves, the Fear and the Courage Wolf. The Fear Wolf is Resistance. It feeds on your fear of it. We’re faced with a choice everyday. We can either avoid our calling and feed our Fear Wolf, or face Resistance and feed our Courage Wolf. Author Pressfield talks about feeding his Courage Wolf by sitting down to write at his desk everyday at 10:30 am, regardless of how he feels. As Pressfield says, “I put in my time, and give it all I’ve got.” All that counts is overcoming Resistance when it matters most. If we learn to sit down with Resistance, something magical happens. It’s like showing up at the doors of Inspiration, ready to receive a spark. When we commit & go into the unknown that lies beyond Resistance, it is as if we become a magnet for ideas, insights and creation. But Resistance shows up again the next day, and the day after that. If one learns to embrace and face Resistance, day in and day out, we finally become who were born to be. Creative work is often seen as a bid for attention, even by its creator. For someone who has gone beyond Resistance, it is in fact a gift to the world.
After turning the last page of The War of Art, I’d have imagined I had it all figured out. I had the key to finding my creative flow. It was all going great, till I was asked to write a blog post for Chapter 101! Resistance mysteriously found its way as I was staring at a blank Word Document. Thirty Deep breaths and a cup of coffee later, I’m finding myself wrapping up this blog post, hoping you find the courage to overcome Resistance and create some magic out of nothing!