Working with resistance can be a force empowering us with perseverance and determination to fulfil a task or goal, elevating us to great heights. Like a pilot using a strong headwind for faster take-off and the ongoing resistance in balancing the additional forces of drag, thrust and gravity to maintain speed and height. Conversely, working against resistance and not to recognise and expose the existence of resistance, can subtly manipulate us with persuasive emotional arguments sapping our strength and motivation throwing us off balance to the very depths of despair and inaction.
Resistance can feel like pushing against a head-wind, sometimes of immense proportions, exposing the very core of ourselves and our vulnerabilities, pushing our self-belief to the limits and with the fear of failure damaging our self-image and self-credibility. Working with resistance can be a force of nature that we can harness as a tool to provoke honest self-interrogation. It comes down to purpose, desire and conviction; Purpose or motive in the clarity of the task or goal which has been identified which will not buckle under pressure and will withstand scrutiny from robust interrogation. Desire in the acquisition of the task or goal alongside the achievement and accomplishment which will surely and rightfully follow, and justifiably so! Through the pathway from purpose and desire, Conviction is the psychological force which will ensure strength of immense proportions and unwavering commitment. True conviction will result from systematic and analytical approach. It is a process, not determined by time but by thoroughness. Having conviction has resulted in acts of great bravery, sometimes prompted in a split second of decision making. Conversely conviction can extend over a period of time through small determined steps. Either way, purpose and desire must precede conviction with our unfaltering perseverance to succeed.
Expose and disclose is the first step in the pathway for resistance to be used as a force for self-awareness, self-enquiry. With greater wisdom to understand resistance’s effects, a more measured and managed approach will follow, interpreting resistance as not a reason to give up or that we are not up to the task, but a cause for self-exploration and investigation to hone our analytical skills for positive gain. To stay objective and not succumb to emotional bias is a task in itself, as the desire to achieve and conversely not to fail, adds additional pressure for a positive outcome. But if we work against resistance, it can become a battle ground from which there can be no winners. Like a strong biting wind pushing against our bodies doing its utmost to throw us off balance. Increasing mental strength is comparable to physical fitness; push too hard and risk almost certain injury and strain, not enough and we will never realise our potential of our true capability. It is about balancing ambition and desire with a reasonable attitude.
It is often said that ‘the answer lies in the question’. This can in the heat of a moment or said at the wrong moment to someone in the grip of a struggle with resistance, set the smouldering flames alight. Only the strength from determination in pursuit of a clear motive or goal alongside a swift reminder of the consequences should we give in to resistance, can push through the resistance barrier connecting us with self-belief in our ability to succeed. In a real sense, we have to be our own cheer leader shouting positive words of encouragement.
Pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone is a concept that has been present throughout my professional as well as personal life. There is hardly a day when I do not feel resistance to certain tasks, often attributed to some fear or failure exposing vulnerability and my perfectionism issues which have to be managed extremely carefully. Yet if I hit resistance waking up at 4.30am to write before my early morning daily swim or reducing my target of lengths in the swim itself, do I use it as a reason to stop? What would be the consequences of giving in? Believe me, in the heat of my intensive swim, reasoning becomes a sharp tool provoking tough self-talk. Giving up quickly dissolves into the chlorine filled water. But very occasionally an acceptable compromise to my fixed lengths is negotiated if the reason is clearly justifiable, such as enabling me to fit in my scales and warmups if I have heavy commitments for the rest of the day. Conversely if I am using swimming, running or indeed some other task as a decoy or excuse not to complete a pressing or challenging task where fear of failure or doubt in my abilities creating heavy resistance generating despondency, I will hold myself accountable to investigate root cause; exposure disclosure! People have often remarked on my incredible energy and strength, sometimes even seeing me in some way superhuman. While I am absolutely not (believe me!), does it not give them an excuse to negate their responsibility to themselves and their potential, by using the superhuman or the talent argument. How do they know if they’ve never tried?
Working with resistance will ultimately change victim into victor. This surely must be our most prized reward in life’s journey to work tirelessly in striving to be the very best version of ourselves.