There’s going to be an amazing podcast episode on this topic, but until then… let’s chat for a second about resistance.
What is resistance? The refusal to accept or comply with something or the attempt to prevent something by action. I love this second line. The attempt. Like it’s just a trial, or test, or attempt. Not necessarily the success of refusal. And here’s why it’s important. In our work, creative or otherwise, we will always come up with a way to not do something. Our brains like comfort—it wants to avoid pain and seek pleasure. So in action, resistance looks like you cleaning your house when you should send a difficult email. Resistance is your “friend” telling you to wait to do something. Resistance is endless scrolling on social to say “I’m checking in with clients and work, and being part of the conversation.”
No. You are avoiding the work. You are shifting the focus to something perhaps valid (we should pick up our homes daily) but avoiding the most important part of the work. Why do we do that? Why are the dishes ALL OF A SUDDEN the biggest eyesore in our homes? Well, it’s your brain trying to say, come back to comfort. Please stay with me, don’t do anything too scary.
Resistance is our primal brain’s way of saying… this could be total crap, this could be really hard, I got you safe right here doing what you have always been doing. Ooof. Thanks, brain.
I read a book by Steven Pressfield called the War of Art. Highly recommend. I buy it as gifts for friends, especially in the creative business. I love how you can read the book in a few hours but really, the content is so fucking heavy, you may just want to sit with one page at a time. In it Pressfield does something brilliant. He describes resistance as a set of a few different things: resistance being invisible, insidious, impersonal, and my favorite: infallible. I love this from the book: “Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, resistance will unfailingly point true north—meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.”
Use resistance as a compass, my friends. Follow that calling that seems the scariest.