RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
Do you ever notice how some things seem to come into your life coincidentally right when you need them? Or is more likely it that subconsciously you began seeking it out because you knew you needed it. Or, is it even more likely that you have been receiving the same message over and over again for quite some time now, but you just weren’t quite ready to listen to it yet?
I stopped writing. For over two years straight I had written a blog piece almost every week, for the purpose of providing something potentially useful for anyone interested in reading it, but also just because I enjoy it, I enjoy the process. Plus, I had also begun taking steps towards a new writing project with the goal of writing a published book.
But then I slowed down, and then I stopped.
I was not entirely sure why I stopped writing. I am sure the possible stress that has been 2020, having to rapidly flip the business on its head and becoming a remote school teacher are all pretty legitimate reasons to not be able to put myself into the head space required to write. Or… they were all just excuses for a more underlying reason…
Last week I started reading ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Presserfield. The book very bluntly details all of the action, and inaction, we all take in order to avoid what we know we should be doing. Not the tedious jobs we don’t care for like cleaning the house. No, the avoidance of working towards the things that we love and live for. The ambitions and dreams and desires. Writing a novel, moving interstate, getting healthy, quitting the smokes, finishing our degree in the thing we actually want to do. The War of Art calls us out on all of our bullshit. Procrastinating to avoid completing a project, exam study, a big job or a passion project. Putting in more effort to avoid completing a task than actually just completing the task. Excusing your way out of exercising, dieting, going on a holiday, not starting that new business venture. Presserfield describes that invisible forcefield that constantly stops us from doing the work we know we need to do as ‘Resistance’. And the slippery bugger pops it’s ugly little head up with every single task we desire most…
“…any act that rejects immediate gratification in favour of long term growth, health or integrity. Or, expressed in another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these will elicit Resistance.”
I am so glad this book so “conveniently” and “coincidentally” came to me at this exact time…
We all do it. We find ways out of things, avoid things, procrastinate, pretend they don’t exist, say we will start tomorrow, use every excuse under the sun (including the excuses we convince ourselves to be genuinely “legitimate”). We all experience Resistance because we all want to achieve things that we truly care about.
If we desire this goal so much, if it really is our true passion, if it is our true desire, then why the hell do most of us succumb to Resistance?
Well for one, it is normal. You are normal. You are not the only person that feels this strange pull in the other direction. We all feel it because that higher goal is hard, well… harder than what we are currently doing. It is also scary, because the reward is so far away and so very uncertain. Right here is comfy and nice and safe. Out there? What if you put all of that effort in and it doesn’t go to plan? What if you don’t quite succeed? Or worse, what if you fail? Maybe it is better to just stay here where it is so cozy… and unfulfilled.
Resistance comes at us from all sides and angles. It fuels the fear of failure, it sends our ego into overdrive, it teases us with the more tempting, shorter term (and empty) rewards.
Resistance is doing everything at work yourself because you won’t put in the effort to train somebody up and build a few systems.
Resistance is saying “one day I will…” and then dying having done none of them.
Resistance is never patching up a lost friendship or family breakdown because it is easier to just avoid them forever instead.
Resistance is never making the move to your dream location because for some strange reason your methods for earning a livable wage don’t apply or work beyond your current neighborhood. People make money different over there.
Resistance is using your sore leg, your refusal to scale the exercises, your friend that bailed on you, the rain (even if indoors), the heat… look… anything at all your creative mind can invent, laced and garnished with a little bullshit, to not go to the gym when you said you would go.
Resistance is using COVID19, an upside down gym and remote learning as an excuse to not be in the “headspace” to write a single thing.
Resistance throws everything at us to keep us where we are, because it is safe. Safe is good. Safe = survival. But Resistance doesn’t understand the development of humans, it doesn’t care for ambition. It is a caveman level feeling that exists to keep our race alive. But we humans have developed so much that we want a little more than that. Unfortunately our brains are a little too conscious for just mere ‘surviving’, we want fulfilment. In order to do that, we need to overcome Resistance.
But overcoming fear and uncertainty is so bloody hard. We fear the judgement of others’ opinions of what you have decided to be brave enough to have a crack at. We fear it most because we do care about it so much. We fear what they will think if we fail, we fear their criticism for the choices we make, we fear the haters who just like to hate hate hate, we fear looking stupid in front of them, we fear being percieved as some kind of idiot.
But not only that, others tend to fear our bravery too and like to join in on the sabotage. “You can’t start something ambitious and bloody leave me here all alone not achieving things!”… “Aww c’mon mate, what’s one bender going to do to this weight loss goal of yours?”, “What’s one more smoke?” “C’mon just stay up late for one more episode, you’ll get up early just fine.” To a closed minded individual, the success of those close to you only highlights the lack of your own success. So it’s either, go and join them, or keep them here with you.
“The highest treason a crab can commit is to make a leap for the rim of the bucket.”
Resistance tempts us to take the easy route to feeling good.
“Anything that draws attention to ourselves through pain-free or artificial means is a manifestation of Resistance…”
Drinking, drug addiction, self sabotage, self dramatisation, self pity, playing the victim. These are all ways in which we waste time and energy not achieving our dreams. Even self medicating our “illness” is an easy out. Yes the diagnosis may be real, but instead of doing something, we just take the pill. We clever little buggers can quite literally come up with any way to avoid doing good work. The work that will give us the ultimate satisfaction.
As much as we like to think that our stories are unique, that our excuses and limitations are legitimate, that our situation is so special that we couldn’t possibly dream to actually do it. That those achievements are only reserved for the ‘lucky ones’, the chosen ones. But chosen by who? Yes, some of us are born with a head start, and some of us are born with a big nasty handicap. But none of us were chosen. A bird’s shit is equally likely to land on a ‘chosen one’ as much as it is likely to land on you. Putting yourself in a category of ‘not one of them people’ is another excuse you have created, all sponsored and endorsed by your good mate Resistance.
As much as we like to think our limitations are real and legitimate excuses for sitting in our own sad and sooky filth. We are wrong. The difference is what you decide to do with your situation. The difference is whether you are brave enough to dare greatly and brave the unknown and unknowable. The difference is striving for what you love, not for the end result, but for every pain staking step it took to get there. The difference is feeling excitement in the anticipation of what unexpected things may happen, as opposed to fear in what may not.
We all fear failure and uncertainty and all of that scary shit. But let’s stop and have a look at 2020 as an example. As shitful as it has been, how much have we all changed and evolved as people for the better this year? Yeah, not all of us, some wasted the past 8 months grumpy and miserable and angry. Not once did they lift their heads, open their eyes and switch on their ears. They Resisted like fuck! And as a result, they haven’t changed and evolved. But we have. If we don’t suffer, if we don’t fail, if we don’t lose… we don’t progress.
If we wish to overcome crippling Resistance and go and do those things we really want to do, even if the goalposts move or the desire changes along the way into something else entirely, we must cut the bullshit. We must face the crowd, we must face adversity, we must endure some struggle, we must accept no excuses, we must ask for help, we must play it as it lays, we must not take things personally, we must cop a few hits, we must knuckle down and get to work and we must remember to do it because we love it.
“That’s the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines.”
I am bloody back!