“I am prepared, each day, to confront my own self-sabotage.”
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
My heart is racing. Sweat is diving off my eyelashes, and my calves are burning. I’m on a treadmill, and I’m actually enjoying it. Hold on…just 15 minutes ago I was kneeling on the bedroom carpet in my underwear with my face buried in my hands as an internal battle raged.
Rewind 15 minutes: My alarm is shouting from the floor, I crawl out of bed, and hurry to snooze it before I wake up my wife who is sound asleep just a few feet away. Time seems sluggish as I fumble to gain consciousness and prepare for the barrage of rational thoughts.
“I could get another hour of sleep if I went back into bed.”
“I can go running later tonight when I get home from work.”
“You did so well these past few days so you should take a break today.”
It was like an internal, one-sided boxing match, and I was on the ropes.
The struggle was so strong I could feel it starting to take over me, beginning with the thoughts in my head and then moving into the rest of my body, finally manifesting into a small tug that pulled me toward the bed. In that moment I felt so weak, torn between the idea of another hour of sleep versus a morning filled with accomplishment. It’s been five minutes; five long minutes. I’m on all fours and on the cusp of crawling back to bed with my tail between my legs. I check the time again because the last point I checked didn’t even register.
A light hit the back of my eyes as I recognized that what I was feeling was Resistance. I knew it was trying to keep me “safe” and prevent me from changing or becoming a better version of myself. My self-awareness radar was blipping and with a flicker of strength I started changing my inner dialogue:
“If it doesn’t happen right now, it won’t happen at all.”
“What if I only did one mile?”
“You’ll throw off your whole day if you don’t do it.”
I swiped the pile of gym clothes from the floor, uprooted myself, and stepped out of the room. I changed, put on my running shoes, grabbed my stuff, and left my apartment. As I waited at the elevator I sighed in relief while mumbling, “I did it.”
I completed the first step: Just show up
So many of us want to do something, but Resistance beats us to a pulp until we give in and continue the cycle of stagnation and mediocrity. Just showing up turns the tide in our favor, gives us strength, and breaks that cycle. Here’s a framework to help you kick the crap out of Resistance so you can show up for the day:
- Know it exists: Resistance is real.
- It’s trying to prevent you from taking bold action in your life when you want to become a better version of yourself. It harkens back to our tribe mentality and sticking with the pack. Realize that you don’t need to stick with the pack anymore. You are your own pack leader and your life is your responsibility.
- Resistance is good. It’s your body telling you that the thing you’re trying to pursue or accomplish is worthwhile. Your aspiration is going to take you on a journey outside of your comfort zone, and that’s where the magic happens.
- Identify it: Become self aware.
- Rational thoughts, self talk, inner dialogue, anything that’s thrown at you in your own voice can be a form of Resistance. This is what makes Resistance so difficult to conquer; it hijacks our own thoughts and uses them against us. It’s trying to keep you “safe” remember?
- Flip it: First and foremost, this is a conscious decision.
- You have to make the decision to flip it before you can turn it into action.
- Change the dialogue by deciding to change the dialogue.
- Try using “what if” when you form a sentence.
- What if I wrote only 100 words today?
- What if I sit down and start typing anything?
- Shift your mindset:
- Think of how you’d feel at the end of the day if you didn’t write. What if you took action now instead of re-living that moment of absolute guilt before you go to bed realizing you didn’t write today?
- Link it to your life goal of writing full-time. The more consistent action you take on a daily basis the sooner you’ll have the option to go full-time.
- Take action:
- That moment you feel like you finally have the upper hand, get those body parts moving. Walk to your desk. Fire up that laptop. Do a little editing to get your head in the game and start typing. Or outline your next scene with some notes to set yourself up in your next session. Get those words or thoughts out of your head and onto your screen. Just do something! The momentum will help carry you to your writing goal for the day.
Just showing up is a powerful technique that will help you win your own internal boxing match because you’re fueling action with commitment. You’re taking action with intent, and that’s a recipe to making healthy progress towards your goals as a writer.
It’s your turn to show up. Go live your life’s work by confronting your own self-sabotage so you can write today. You’ll feel better that you did.
How has Resistance held you back? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below or email me, I read every one.
To your consistent progress,