Conquering the Wall of Resistance
Overcoming and embracing the resistance standing between us and creative pursuits.
Welcome to another Sunday Edition of Prompted.
This week we’re taking a look at the wall of resistance that we encounter when we’re working on something difficult or creative and the value that comes from chipping through the wall.
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Conquering the Wall of Resistance
Don't prepare. Begin. Our enemy is not lack of preparation. The enemy is resistance, our chattering brain producing excuses. Start before you are ready.
Attempting anything worthwhile feels like staring at an impenetrable cement wall. We’re all familiar with the overpowering desire to do something else that comes when it’s time to exercise, study, write, have a difficult conversation, prepare a presentation, or begin a project.
We know the only way to get the results we want is to painstakingly chip through the wall that stands before us, and yet, our instinct is to do anything except commit and get started. There is no way around the wall or over it, but we still delay getting started, get distracted by inconsequential temptations, and frantically search for shortcuts. Author Steven Pressfield calls this Resistance.
Pressfield believes the act of creating is learning to conquer this wall of Resistance, and the only way to overcome it is to work through it.
We need to commit to the process, avoid distraction and temptation, and endure the feelings of doubt and frustration that come from creating something out of nothing. If that means staring at a blank page for hours or trying something 100 different ways until the 101st version works, then so be it.
And an interesting thing happens when we walk up to the wall in front of us and begin to slowly chip away at a path forward: it gets easier. It never becomes easy (in fact, it will always be monumentally difficult), but once we overcome the urge to run away in search of instant gratification, we settle into the rhythm of difficult work.
It’s hard, but it’s rewarding. The slow grind of progress is gratifying in a way that can’t be replicated, and enduring the doubt and Resistance enhances the process of creation. If we take shortcuts, we’re robbing ourselves of the learning and growth that will make our work worthwhile in the first place.
There are millions of people with the capacity to create something incredible, but there are shockingly few who can consistently overcome Resistance.
We all know that we should eat healthier foods and exercise more, but only a small number of people lead a lifestyle that matches what we know is best. The same can be said for almost any Worthwhile Pursuit. In most cases, overcoming Resistance is more valuable than being a talented writer, accountant, artist, boyfriend, etc.
Creating great work is difficult. The voice in our head will tell us it’s too hard, it’s not possible, or we don’t have what it takes, but Pressfield urges us all to start before we’re ready, and we’d be wise to listen. No matter what we’re pursuing, the first step is always the same, pick up the ax and start chipping away.
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What is on the other side of your wall?
When faced with Resistance, what are your most common reactions?
How is Resistance showing up in your life right now?
The War of Art - Steven Pressfield
A succinct and practical guide for any creative pursuit.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.
I will almost always clean my house before I’ll do the thing I’m having resistance toward at the moment. “Anxious cleaning” my sister calls it. Honestly, since I’ve recognized what it is (avoidance/procrastination) my house is messier but I’ve made so much more progress on my writing!
Perhaps the wall of resistance should be approached as we learn to do when in a marathon.