The gift of resistance

By Joe Tassi | May 10, 2009

Resistance is the knot in your stomach, a nagging discontent, that discordant conversation between your inner voice and logical mind. Resistance is the excuse, a rationale that stops us from discovering our true purpose. Resistance is fear and a powerful adversary. It will use every means available: illness, addiction, family obligations, religion, and occupational pressure to keep us from discovering that true purpose.

Steven Pressfield ("The War of Art") writes that “Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and the growth of our soul.”

After many successful novels ("The Legend of Bagger Vance," "Last of the Amazons") Pressfield still battles resistance, challenging his certainty in his ability to write. He overcomes his fear by showing up to write every day without consideration of outcome, to practice his craft.

When I was a boy on the swim team I worked out five days a week, sometimes four hours a day, with a swim meet on Saturdays. There were days that I hated practice and had to force myself to swim the laps. Other days the practice time flew by, my strokes were cleaner and more fluid and I moved through the water faster and with less effort. It left me wondering why one practice went so much better than another did. The better days, I realized, occurred when I was not concerned with outcome, with success or failure. Swimming the 100-yard freestyle in less than one minute was less important than executing the strokes purposefully.

Afraid but writing through his resistance, Pressfield wrote "The Legend of Bagger Vance." I swam the 100-yard freestyle in 0.50 flat. Success is relative.

We are all born with the capacity for fulfillment and happiness. We have only to make the choice, face our resistance and do our work. Resistance is a gift. It is our inner voice speaking. Listen to it. It tells us the truth.
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