“The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind.” Rumi
When it comes to motivation and following my purpose I have found that the biggest obstacle in my path had nearly always been Me. Myself. You’d think I’d be my best supporter, greatest cheerleader, biggest fan, but no. I have been my loudest naysayer, setting up traps and making sure I trip, fall, or avoid the path completely. What is up with Me? Don’t I know that I will be the biggest benefactor if my dreams come true? Sheesh, Self. What is your problem?
Then, a few months back I saw Steven Pressfield on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah. He was talking about his book The War Of Art and how resistance and self loathing are actually good things.
“The dream arises in our psyche (even if we deny it, even if we fail to or refuse to recognize it) like a tree ascending into the sunshine. Simultaneously the dream’s shadow appears—i.e., Resistance—just as a physical tree casts a physical shadow.
That’s a law of nature.
Where there is a Dream, there is Resistance.
Thus: where we encounter Resistance, somewhere nearby is a Dream.” Steven Pressfield (very cool article. You can read the rest of it here)
To consider that Resistance is actually a law of nature, like gravity, or attraction, was hugely liberating for me. Suddenly I could see clearly all of the ways that Resistance insinuated itself into my life. It was the same old song, ever time.
The Rise and Fall of the Beautiful Dream
Sudden inspiration leads to HUGE excitement, plan making, visions of euphoria. That would typically last for a day, maybe two. I would even get busy making lists and drawing up plans and telling my American Husband all about it. “I have this amazing THING I am going to do!!” and he would get excited too.
This will never work. How can I possibly find anyone to help with this? And how can I afford it? Besides, who would listen to me about anything? I am a nobody. What do I have to offer the world? Who am I to set myself up as teacher/leader/guide in anything?
But hey, I’ve dealt with the nagging voice of my own self doubt for my whole incarnation, so I know how to muscle through. So the next step is to soldier on despite the doubts. Let’s say, for instance, the Dream is that I will write a book, perhaps about Past Lives for instance. Hypothetically speaking of course.
I decide I will sit down and write, despite the cacophony of self loathing that is singing in my head. Here’s what happens next.
I sit down to write. But wait, I have to pee. So I get up to pee and on my way back I remember that I should take something out of the freezer for supper, so I grab a package of chicken and set it to thaw on the counter. Hey, maybe I’ll make that yummy lemon chicken we had at Mom’s last month. I better call her for the recipe. Beep beep beep, dialing, “Hello Mom, how are you?…” Twenty minutes later with recipe in hand I realize that we need a few ingredients, so I suit up and head over to the grocery store. By the time I get back I see that it is lunchtime, so I make some soup, and while I am eating I figure I might as well catch up on my Downton Abbey viewing, so on goes the Netflix. Part way through my 3rd episode I look down at the laptop, just sitting there on the table, mocking me. I reach over and close it, trying to ignore the niggling guilt. I can’t write now, I don’t have time, I justify to myself. Finishing the episode I jump up and start prepping supper. So I didn’t write today? So what. Nothing will ever come of it anyways.
Debbie Downer get out of my head.
When I watched Steven Pressfield talk about Resistance and describing it as a real, tangible thing, I had a great big Oprah A-HA moment. If Resistance was a thing, then I could find away around it. But how?
First I tried to identify how Resistance wages war on me. I came up with the Big 3. They are, in no particular order:
1. Procrastination. This weapon of mass destruction has lobbed it’s poison at me more than any other. I will do it tomorrow, after this, once that happens, soon…. Putting my Beautiful Dream off forever into the unreachable future more times than I can count.
2. Getting busy. I am an expert at over-scheduling myself. I fill my days and nights with so many tasks that I just never seem to have time to follow my Beautiful Dream. “Beware the barrenness of the busy life”, says Socrates. I hear you, Bro.
3. Self Loathing. That inner bitch just keeps letting me know I am never going to be good enough, smart enough or gosh darn it, likeable enough. She has been trying to come between me and my Beautiful Dream my whole life.
To set up a viable defense against these three weapons of Resistance, I had to plan my counter-attack. My line of defense is pretty simple, actually, and so far has worked miracles for me.
I began by making a concerted effort to recognize Resistance as it crept up in its many forms. Once recognized I would say, “I see you, Resistance!” and then I would imagine that Resistance took the form of a giant bubble, blocking me from my Big Dream. Huge and unwieldy I would see it there, as a tangible “thing”. And then I would huff, and I would puff and I would blow it away.
Easy as pie. Bubbles have no defense against a good gust of air.
This simple tool has not ended the war with Resistance. With each new day comes new weapons and tools aimed at stopping me from moving toward my Beautiful Dream, and each day I must be aware, fortify myself and blow those bubbles away. At times I forget and end up stalling. Sometimes I stall for months at a time, but eventually I remember.
Resistance I am done. It’s not me, it’s you. The beauty of my Dream is calling and I intend to heed her siren song.
“Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.” Steven Pressfield