“[Resistance will rise with] any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our high nature instead of our lower. Any of these will elicit Resistance.”
Throughout the book, Steven refers to resistance with a capital “R.” Like it’s a separate entity or an external force. Sometimes it can certainly feel that way. For me, it usually shows up in the form of procrastination or judgment. What I mean by judgment is it will make wrong the very thing I know I probably should or should not do, or tell me how risky that endeavor might be. Resistance is the voice that gives you all the reasons why you should put that thing off. Resistance is that feeling of dread when you’re on deadline and still sitting in your PJs at home staring at the laptop.
I have come to accept resistance as part of my creative process, but it also rings true with regard to my weight loss journey. I used to think the resistance was with my metabolism. And to some degree that is true. Genetics do play a part. Yet when I began my Luminous journey, it busted up that truth as evidenced by how quickly the weight was released in the first 8 weeks. The rapid progress fueled me to continue, until several months later. Then the exceptions and justifications began, AKA Resistance.
Resistance is fear in disguise. And fear is the product of the ego. This is what Steven Pressfield is referring to when he talks about the high vs. lower nature. When we are at the beginning of a new endeavor, we are coming from our high nature. We are excited, we see what’s possible. We bring our enthusiasm and a very high energy. We plot out the steps and make a plan. Inevitably, there will moments along the way with unexpected occurrences, impatience or fatigue. These obstacles threaten to pull the wind from our sails.
Resistant to Resilient
To be human is to create. We are creators. Some of us choose to create as a profession, but all of us are creating our lives. Where we live, where we work, the partners we choose, the babies we give birth to, all of it is the result of creation first. The blossoming of a thought and the action we take as a result…that’s creating. The human experience also includes resistance. The ego wants to believe we have control over things. When that proves not to be true, the ego resorts to fear, and ultimately resistance.
After my initial marathon loss, I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself and I continued to a total of 80 pounds released. Then came a heavy work schedule. I was filming out of town, managing a large crew. There were lots of obstacles to overcome on this particular project. There were days when I just wasn’t feeling very powerful or successful. There was conflict too, lots of creative differences amongst the people in charge and a few power struggles. I began to lose faith in my abilities. One person in particular was a fear-driven human who was pretty intense, and I could feel myself take on that energy, triggering my insecurities. I questioned my judgment. I took the job even when I felt an odd pull that something wasn’t right. When certain agreements weren’t being honored, I began to get angry. I didn’t have the courage to walk away or even speak up. I was afraid if I set boundaries I’d become “that difficult producer.” I was afraid I’d lose the job, and all of the financial obligations bubbled up in my head. I woke up every morning with a pit in my stomach. And I began to console my anger and frustration with food again. The well-known, old patterns began to re-surface. Fear had me in its grip. I was resistant to speaking my truth. I didn’t trust I could make an impact. Ultimately we parted ways, and it didn’t end well.
When we take action from fear, it rarely ends well. Ultimately that one experience turned into one of the most valuable lessons in my life. It wasn’t the first time it happened, but that particular experience really cracked me open. I needed to be knocked on my ass in order to open and see it differently. I recognized I needed to learn a new way of managing obstacles. My resistance needed to shift into resilience.
Being resilient isn’t about taking it on the chin and tolerating more. Resilience means to quickly bounce back. Rather than allowing ourselves to fall down the rabbit hole, the lesson is bouncing back more quickly, correcting sooner.
When things got difficult with the job, and boundaries were being crossed, there was a missed opportunity. I chose to believe the fear rather than stand in love. Love and appreciation for my gifts, and yes, even love and appreciation for the lessons others were inadvertently teaching me. When we respond to difficult situations or difficult people from a place of love, bringing in the energy of compassion, seismic shifts occur. We are given the choice to believe in the power we have when we bring that energy, or we can buy into the old stories about not being good enough or unworthy. That’s the energy of fear.
When I started gaining weight, I became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was proving I was not good enough, that I didn’t deserve to feel good or successful. That I sucked at following through on commitment to myself. The flood gates opened on fear and resistance because of how I was choosing to act in a difficult situation.
When we commit to resilience, we choose to rebound faster. It’s not that we won’t have moments of fear, but we can leave that party, knowing we have some place much better to be. It’s not that we won’t have obstacles or difficulties. Instead, we trust in the ability to stay vulnerable, to stand in that place of love and abundance. We ask for assistance from the higher power of our understanding. We shift the internal talk to forgiveness and vulnerability.
Everything starts with a thought. Those thoughts generate a particular kind of energy or vibration. Negativity yields a low vibration. The higher vibration comes from that place underneath all of the ego’s talk. Whether we are aware of it or not, that energy is creating our experience. The good news is there are specific steps to take in order to begin this mindful shift.
1. Change Your Story.
When the pounds started piling back on, I was playing the victim. I was devastated that I was once again failing. Then came all of the rationalizations as to why this was hard, or takes too much time, or impossible to sustain. I had to change my perception and bring new energy. To start, I began appreciating how blessed I was to have a plan that I knew worked 100%. I had to break down my story of “not enough time,” and see through a different lens. I recognize that self-care is more important than anything else. Instead of playing the victim, audition for the role of warrior. When I’m feeling good, my resilience is never-ending.
2. Surrender & Ask For Support.
Whenever there is a block or obstacle, take the time to surrender to it and the feelings surrounding it. Honor the feelings. The way I do that is through meditation. The energy that begins to emerge when I allow the negative thoughts to pass through is extraordinary! This is also when I ask for support. Ask the higher power of your understanding for guidance, and then spend time in meditation simply witnessing what comes through. If you find meditation challenging, try deep breathing by inhaling to the count of 5, holding your breath for a count of 5 and releasing the breath for a count of 5. Continue the practice until you begin to feel a shift. Focusing on the breath is a great introduction to how fantastic meditation can feel. Surrendering simply means you are relying on that higher power for guidance. You recognize the energy coming through you is not of you, and you become more aware that you are always being guided.
3. Focus On Solutions.
It is often much easier to complain or bemoan all of the “issues.” Begin to shift that internal conversation away from everything that is wrong. Instead, begin listing what you can do about it. In other words, flip the script. As you begin to focus on the specific steps you can take, you will begin to feel lighter. Start by appreciating what is working, and have faith the solution will come. When you stop complaining, your energy will shift and you will begin creating a different perspective and real momentum.
4. Be Mindful of Other People’s Energy.
When you are beginning any new practice, it is important to be aware of the energy around you. Let’s say you decide to resume your weight loss journey. Well-meaning loved ones might knowingly or unknowingly say things that could affect your healing. You are extra impressionable when first starting out, so be mindful of setting boundaries in a gentle but firm way. This is where vulnerability is your superpower. You can speak your mind in such a way that allows you to say your piece without making the other person wrong. It’s also important to be particular about what you share and with whom.
5. Lean In.
When you begin to take action, it does not have to be all or nothing. In fact, the all or nothing approach is often what will trigger a whole lotta resistance. And, if you don’t succeed, you’ll chuck it all. Feel into what makes sense for you in this moment and start there. These little leans can help you trust the process more and build on the energy of success and accomplishment. This past week I heard from a few readers who were struggling with going all in on Luminous. For some, following very specific rules is triggering. Build your resilience and strength by gently heading toward the goal line. Support yourself with a plan that feels reasonable. Perhaps one week you decide to keep one rule, like tracking your food or eliminating snacks. Perhaps the next, you’ll choose to part ways with processed food or abstain from alcohol. Check in on how you’re feeling after. Then, and ONLY then, decide your next step. Whatever you decide should be something you feel confident you can do for a specific length of time. See it as a practice run or an experiment. Go gently.
6. Be Consistent.
One of my favorite quotes to read when I’m avoiding doing something is one from author Somerset Maugham:
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
I can’t count how many times I resisted, struggled and agonized over doing something, and realize later that getting my butt in the chair was the hardest part. Waiting for inspiration or motivation to strike or the “right time” will insure that little will change. Once you lean in and decide what feels workable, create a regular practice. You might find resistance rise when you go to put it on your calendar, so remember to lean in and commit to what feels workable. Whenever I’m stuck on how best to move forward with a project, my intention is to sit in the chair, not come up with brilliant ideas. Don’t wait for inspiration to lead you. Instead, let inspiration know what time to arrive. Note that inspiration and resistance don’t cohabitate very well. So the more resilient you are by initiating a practice of any kind, the more space you allow for the dream weaving.
7. Bring In The Joy As You Go.
Let go of “When I, Then I’ll…” Whatever the current plan is, it’s OK to have fun in the making or doing. Don’t wait to get to the goal line and decide THAT’s when you’ll feel happy and fulfilled. Practice bringing in the energy of how you want to feel and feel it now. Affirmations and mantras are helpful to get you in the zone, but the real miracle is when you put energy behind the words and action. Whenever I need reminding of that, I simply watch my dog Ellie. I think dogs are great at teaching us about high vibes and the infectious energy of joy. Babies too. We adults have that same infectious power. When we embody those feelings, they are powerful and expansive, making us super resilient and more immune to resistance.