Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within. Between the two stands Resistance. ~ Stephen Pressfield
Have Resistance? Yep, me too. I resist paying my bills, hitting “publish” on my blog post, and turning off the television when it’s time to go to bed.
If you think you don’t have Resistance, I have bad news: Resistance is part of the human condition like breathing, bad hair days, and following baby animals on Instagram. If you’ve got a body, you’ve got Resistance.
But, I also have good news. You can sneak around any Resistance through these 9 simple steps.
1. Find the Resistance. This is the million-dollar question. Ask yourself: where am I holding on for dear life, clinging, pushing the boulder up the hill? Where am I attached to an identity and trying to look the way a “successful person” needs to look, or a “good mother” needs to look? Where am I pushing my kids to be a certain way?
Resistance looks like fighting for your preference no matter the obstacles. It looks like checking out in front of the TV. Resistance is procrastination. It looks like making plans in the future for changing your job or starting a blog, that never seem to happen.
If you’re still stumped about where you feel Resistance, as yourself: What am I afraid of? Where you feel fear, there lies Resistance. The degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more Resistance we experience.
2. Find the desire. Where there is Resistance, there is true desire. Identify a genuine want in the direction of the Resistance. If we have Resistance around feeling rejected, the genuine desire may be wanting to be seen and accepted for our true selves. If we have Resistance about looking carefully at what we eat, the genuine desire may be to feel freedom in other, more meaningful aspects of our lives.
3. What is being asked of me? (Literally.) One of the biggest lies that Resistance convinces us of is that we must create our success, our career, our personal development and any other change in our lives, all alone. This feels like an overwhelming proposition because it is. And it is never, ever true.
This may come as a shock, but there is actually an overwhelming gale of evidence that we receive support toward what we truly desire by invisible helpers and by visible helpers.
Help from people in our lives, like co-workers, friends and passing encounters, comes often in the form of a suggestion or request. What have people in your life asked you to do, probably more than once, that’s in alignment with your truest desires?
These requests are guideposts (as long as they pass the fourth test, below). The suggestions from your friends to start a blog or to go to a new yoga studio are help from the universe.
4. Name the part that resists. This really requires us to take two steps: first, we must own that we are the force that creates Resistance, that prevents our surrender. Second, we must identifying which part of us resists.
If every aspect of ourselves wanted something, we would simply act. If every aspect of ourselves did not want something, we would feel no conflict; we’d experience aversion. Which means that when we’re static, sitting in Resistance, part of us pushes, while another part pulls.
5. Honor legitimacy. David Whyte says that, “Shyness is the first necessary crossroads to the path of becoming.” An element of our Resistance is an appropriate awkwardness in the face of something very important to our soul’s evolution.
And, the more important something is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we feel toward pursuing it.
Total confidence at the beginning of a new phase of life means we are misinformed. Resistance is legitimate. We should feel in awe something wholly foreign, to us, and sacred to our true selves. Because refusing to step forward leaves us haunting our old lives, we honor the legitimacy behind the shyness, but we do not obey it.
6. Be part of the whole. What you choose to do affects us all. Hiding in the bunker until we return to dust instead of hanging up a shingle and teaching yoga means that our students never meet their teacher. There are a lot of people depending on you finding the courage to let go of your Resistance.
Without one tiny atom of obligation or expectation to act, simply connect to your crucial role on life’s big stage.
7. Serve the highest good. In my experience, the ultimate cure for Resistance is service. If you still feel unsure whether life asks something for you, or not, then consider if the endeavor serves the highest good.
Does it serve the highest good to plan to write the great American novel, only to allow years to pass without any final plans? Or, does it serve the highest good to hit “publish” on a blog post about how freaking hard it is to write a novel?
Does it serve the highest good to stay small and scared in our current lives, or does it serve the highest good to reach out and tell a trusted friend how small and scared we feel, sometimes, and how much we yearn for something truly great?
8. Speak truth to Resistance. This step is crucial. The one fact that Resistance doesn’t want you to know, more than anything else, is that it doesn’t exist. It’s not real. We made it up. We fed it with our fear, and it only grows if we believe those fears. As soon as we question our fears, one by one, Resistance diminishes, inch by inch.
Start with the small fears. If I hit publish, some really smart, tenured professor might read my post and think I’m an idiot. And why would that be okay? Why might that even have nothing to do with me?
9. Choose surrender. Am I ready to let go? This is the billion-dollar question. Ask, but don’t answer it. Instead notice that we do have a choice. We are not stuck. We are holding on so that we can’t move forward. We can choose to release. This choice is called “surrender.”
And we make the choice, again and again.
How do you know when we’re ready to let go? There’s this moment where we are sick of drowning in debt, tired of stuffing our feelings, finished with seeking out people who will never love us. This is the moment when we choose true surrender, and we see Resistance for what it is: a powerless opponent. It only has power when we believe what it tells us.
Surrender is the only choice. We make it when we see the truth about Resistance. And then we make that choice, again and again and again.