You know that voice in your head, the one that says you are an idiot. Or a fool. Or a talentless hack? That goddamn voice that won’t leave you alone and won’t let you wake up from your dreary, depressed life? Yea that one. I want to talk about that voice.
I first learned about “The Resistance” from Seth Godin’s popular blog years ago. He didn’t coin the term, that was Steven Pressfield who describes the the never-ending irrationality of human behavior as “The Resistance.
“The Resistance” is the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise. The resistance is writer’s block and putting jitters and every project that ever shipped late because people couldn’t stay on the same page long enough to get something out the door.
I’m in an daily, hourly, regular battle with “The Resistance.” It’s especially acute when I am tackling any sort of creative endeavor. For instance, when I started to learn to play guitar I got the basics down but then got stuck on some advanced chords and gave up. The Resistance won. I haven’t touched my guitar in months.
Last November, I started (and completed!) a Nanowrimo Novel – some 50,000 words in 30 days. It was a huge win. But when I sit down to edit it, all I can hear is a voice in my head saying that it sucks. And not to share it with anyone. Goddamn resistance.
Most recently, I diverted my attention by writing a screenplay for a podcast/show idea I had and while I did finish it, I think I’m too scared to try to produce it. “The Resistance” is winning.
They say that giving a scary thing a name takes away it’s power. Ok then “The Resistance.” Consider yourself named.
How to Identify “The Resistance”
It’s pretty easy to identify “The Resistance.” Like I said, it tends to be the negative nelly voice in your head whispering and sometimes shouting that you suck. Personally, it is especially powerful when it comes to purely artistic pursuits. In my professional work I seem to have it tamed for some reason. Perhaps because I’ve been working in my field for some 20 years I’ve simply bored “The Resistance” into submission. But when it comes to creative or artistic pursuits, “The Resistance” comes roaring back with doubts, self-mocking and defeatist thoughts.
I can draw it out immediately by telling myself how much I like and love myself. There it is. As I was typing that sentence I could feel “The Resistance” spring into action. As if loving myself were a bad thing. What an asshole “The Resistance” can be.
Can you identify your resistance? Do you know how to trigger it?
How to Beat “The Resistance”
So now that you’ve identified “The Resistance,” it’s time to build some muscles to beat it. It’s tricky for sure, but here are 3 techniques I’ve been using lately.
First, get it out of your head. Write it down. Draw it. This blog for instance is one of my bullets. I took a long hiatus from blogging but I’m back, with the intent to publish content and observations about my own search. Since I have so few readers, the resistance can’t really get ahold of me here. Maybe one day it will matter, but right now, I’m basically talking to myself. The blog is one step better than my private, personal journal because it’s public.
Second, give yourself a major fucking break. My intent isn’t to become some sort of screenwriter, or guitarist, it’s simply to find my art and my creativity. Something I lost years ago in the transom and daily rig-a-ma-role of life. If I want to draw a silly picture of a tree, or try to copy a Warhol, I’m gonna do it.
Third, tell the resistance to fuck off. I can’t explain it and your mileage may vary, but when I feel “The Resistance” and have the ability to look at it and tell it to fuck off, it makes me feel really great about myself. This is analogous to the useful “Fake it til you make it” mantra I’ve managed use so effectively to combat imposter syndrome which can be quite significant at times. I’ve come to realize recently that imposter syndrome is just “The Resistance” in a costume.
Over the past 30 days or so I’ve employed these tactics with some success. I’ve recently shared a draft of my screenplay with several friends and family and gotten good feedback. I’ve started sketching and drawing and sharing my art on different websites with friends and the community. I’ve started to give myself a break and am actively practicing telling “The Resistance” to fuck off.
Does this post resonate with you? Are you fighting your own resistance or is it winning? Let me know, I’m curious.