Breaking Through The Resistance

Inspired by Steven Pressfields’ “the War of Art”


Life comes at us in cycles. From getting out of bed in the morning knowing that in a few short hours we’ll be right back under the covers. The changing of the seasons – spring to summer to autumn to winter and back to spring again. There are cycles within cycles within cycles and so on and so on.

We move through life sometimes noticing these changes and at other times not so much.

Why is that?

If you’re expecting an answer then I have to disappoint as I don’t have one. What I do have are more questions and some observations.

1st Observation: changes are more obvious and time moves slowly when…

  • …we’re dealing with bad news.
  • …we’re in the middle of a crisis.
  • …pain and suffering has us in it’s grip.
  • …words of comfort elude us for others that are suffering.
  • …we’re trying to mend broken hearts.
  • …making decisions that will have a profound affect on loved ones.
  • …dealing with resistance – at home, at work and with our own fears.

When you find yourself in one of these cycles you know what I mean when I say that 90% of all songs you hear are speaking to you directly.

Is it coincidence?

Is it because time seems to be moving slower?

Or is it that you’re looking for answers and just a bit more open to hear what’s being sung – you’re not just listening you’re hearing.

If I can’t manage on my own I reach out to my support groups be that family, friends or even strangers depending on what I’m dealing with. It’s amazing how ready and willing people are to help when they see someone struggling.

A couple of years back I found myself in a cycle of procrastination, that lost feeling you get when no matter what you do you just can’t get started.

At the time I was looking for answers and came across a podcast called “The Accidental Creative” by Todd Henry. During one of his podcasts he mentioned Steven Pressfields’ book entitled “the War of Art” – you can find it in my Library – was one of the best books he’d ever read about keeping the creative juices flowing. I bought it, read it and have kept it on my desk ever since.

Funny how we find answers isn’t it. One connection leads to another and another – I like that.

In the book Steven uses the word “Resistance” to encompass all that we deal with when trying to be creative. “Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be”.

As a long time programmer I always felt that my programs/solutions were just as much a creative art form as say a writers or a painters. There were and are days when the juices flow and code just flies off the fingertips and onto the keyboard. Then there are those days where the page remains blank and I can’t seem to get started. Resistance is at work, distractions, fears and other priorities demanding some of my time.

I found inspiration and guidance to breaking through the resistance when I chose to read “the War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. He uses his profession as a writer as the primary examples however the book translates to all people struggling with Resistance with whatever it is they truly want to do. He challenges us to become what we are – not what we want to be.

Update: 2009/11/18 – found Steven Pressfield’s website. In the left column locate the header War of Art there Steven has a list of bloggers that have had the opportunity to ask him three questions about his book “the War of Art” – Steven Pressfield. It’s a great addition to the content of the book and testament to its longevity as it is now 6 and a half years since being published.

There’s a spin for ya. That’s not what everyone else has been telling me. “You can be whatever you want if you work hard and stick with it.” I’ll come back to this in a bit.

Although I read Stevens’ book a few years back as life would have it the cycle is repeating. I’m finding more and more people talking about doing what you love and how to breakdown the walls of Resistance.

Jonathan Fields “Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love”. Hmmmm sounds like a great follow up to what Steven talks about.

“Resistance feeds on fear. Fear of what? Fear of the consequences of following our heart. Fear of bankruptcy, fear of poverty, …fear of failure. …Fear that we will succeed. That we can become the person we sense in our hearts we truly are.”

Stevens’ challenge to become “what we are” is a little clearer now. Our natural born talent is “what we are” – we only need embrace that creative self and let it guide us to a place where we are doing what we love. That may mean leaving behind old friends to find new ones. This is a scary proposition – fear, more resistance.

Last night I landed on Deb Owens blog post suit up & show up and found it to be another great example of handling Resistance and how to get past it to do what you want by getting up and doing it.

Taking that first step towards what ever goal you’re reaching for. Once you do then every subsequent step gets a little bit easier and time begins to move a little faster.

You’ve broken through the Resistance.

As I commented on Debs’ post “Follow your heart, don’t worry about what others think, work at it regularly and you are good enough. Believe that and then know…

2nd Observation: changes are more oblivious and time flies by when…

  • …we’re feeling on top of the world.
  • …we’re in the middle of one of the best times of our lives.
  • …love and friendship has us in it’s embrace.
  • …words of support and caring flow in support of others.
  • …we’re sharing moments of intimacy.
  • …making decisions to do what our heart tells us to.
  • …we’re breaking through the resistance.

What kind of resistance are you running into?

What do you do to break through?

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