Is there a voice in your head that sometimes calls you crazy? Does it tell you that some things are too risky to pursue and that you are better off to follow conventional wisdom? Is that voice calming down when you decide to go to the cinema or watch another episode of “Lost” instead of doing the hard work that gets you closer to making your dreams a reality?
That’s the Resistance and it’s the main reason why most people don’t pursue their dreams and live up to their full potential.
What to Do With the Resistance
In Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, he talks about the Resistance. It’s the voice in our head that tells us to keep our heads down. The lizard brain, as Seth Godin calls it, is here to keep us alive. It’s here to minimize risk. Because it’s the strongest part of our brain, it can easily take over when it smells danger. Danger is basically everything that is risky, and what could be more risky than change.
The lizard brain has its essential part in the history of humanity. Without it, we may as well be extinct. However, today, being eaten by a Dinosaur or Sabre-Toothed Tiger is no longer a constant daily threat, at least not where I live.
The Resistance is not something we can kill. It’s not something we can turn off. It’s something we need to learn to live with. If you keep your head down and always do as you are told, you may not be fully aware of the Resistance.
However, if you constantly do stuff that is risky, pursue change and do unconventional things, you very well know what the Resistance is and how it feels like. If you read this, you are most likely part of the second group and have chosen to pursue change and do something that awakens the Resistance regularly.
I have coffee with the Resistance every morning. I accepted that it’s a part of me. I don’t fight it, I embrace it. I have learned, at least to some extent, to deal with it.
Dealing with the Resistance is one of the hardest parts in my job but I’m grateful it exists. Every time I feel the Resistance and the voice in my head tells me I’m crazy, I know I’m doing the right thing.
One of my very recent discoveries has been mindfulness practice. I have heard about mindfulness many times before but I have declared it unsuitable for practical people like me until I talked to a few people who practice mindfulness on a daily basis.
For the first time, I saw the actual benefits of it. I realized that it’s a great way for me to reduce stress and live more healthy, which is one of my core values. So I decided to try it out.
Because I love technical gadgets, I downloaded the iPhone app called “Mindful” to try it out. First, it felt weird to listen to that voice and meditate for a few minutes. Actually, the first time I did it, my girlfriend was standing in the door, laughing, because it must have looked funny to see me lie there on the couch with eyes closed listening to a calm voice guiding my meditation.
One of the things it helped me with is focus. Many times throughout the day, I catch myself on autopilot, pursing stuff that is not productive or thousands of thoughts rushing through my head at the same time, making it impossible to focus.
That’s when I re-allocate my focus. I stop what I’m doing, concentrate on my breath and just watch the thoughts pass through my head for 15 seconds. After that, I am usually completely re-focused, more creative and much more productive.
Shunning the Non-Believers
That’s how beautifully Seth Godin says it. In order to live up to your full potential and achieve the big things, you need to shun the non- believers. Naysayers and Zombies have no place in your life if you truly want to live on your terms. They are toxic. Even if you don’t fully realize it in the moment you hang out with them, they have a huge affect on your state of mind and beliefs, no matter how strong and confident you are.
Getting feedback and opinions from people is great but not if they tear you down or amplify the Resistance.
Surrounding Yourself With Likeminded People
Likeminded people are those who share your values. That does not mean you always have to agree on everything. The common ground needs to be values in order for a relationship to work. You don’t need to have the exact same interest, that’s not what it’s about. The foundation of values is there so you can actually have meaningful conversations.
A while ago, I have written about 13 Ways to Meet Passionate & Likeminded People in Switzerland. These people are the ones who can help you get up if you fall down. And if you are anything like me and want to live life on your terms instead of following the beaten path, you fall down a lot.
Somebody once said that success is basically standing up one more time than you fall down. These people help you get up every time you fall down which makes it impossible to fail in the long run.
Immersing Yourself in Personal Development Programs
A great way to deal with the Resistance is to fuel your mind with positive thoughts and make yourself feel great. One of the best programs that helped me do that is Morningcoach. It’s basically a 15 minute podcast you listen to every morning where he talks about different personal development topics.
Because it’s the first thing I do in the morning, it directs the whole day into the right direction to set it up for success. Plus, every time I listen to J.B. say “Goooooooooood morning” at 6:30am with his insane amount of energy, I’m pumped about my day and fully awake.
Other audio programs that I listen to are audiobooks from Seth Godin. They are a constant partner in my pursuit to deal with the Resistance.
Leo Babauta’s Sea Change Program is also a great tool to create and follow through on habits that form a more mindful and productive day.
Hiring a Coach
Very recently, I hired a coach to specifically work with me on overcoming limiting beliefs to take my business to the next level. I do many things myself already to deal with the Resistance but I have found that hiring a professional is the most effective way to deal with it, especially in the long run.
A coach is great because he can see the situation from the outside. When we are stuck inside something, many times we lose track of the big picture and we ask the wrong questions. The coach is detached from your point of view, can broaden your horizon and has tools to effectively deal with the Resistance.
3 Action Steps to Deal with the Resistance
1. Three times a day, take 15 seconds to focus only on your breath and nothing else.
2. Before you start your day, consume 15 minutes of inspiration. This can be a TED talk, audio program or anything that fills you with inspiration.
3. Set up your Mastermind group to get together with likeminded people once per week to share progress, feedback, inspiration and hold each other accountable.
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