Resistance can look like a lot of different things. It’s those moments when you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. It’s the day you avoid sitting down to work on your craft. It’s the second you decide that your work isn’t good enough to share so you hide it from the world.
Resistance is anything that pops up along your way that starts pulling you away from what you want and your goals.
It can appear in the form of procrastination, self-doubt, imposter syndrome, self criticism, seeking out trouble, picking fights with others, instigating drama, choosing victimhood, bullying,
incessant worrying, self-medicating, chronical illness (without underlying medical diagnosis), or just plain fear.
Every person on the planet experiences resistance. It doesn’t matter how successful you are or your experience level, resistance happens to us all.
What’s worse is resistance is terribly, terribly smart. For the longest time, I thought you could actually overcome resistance. I thought that if I learned enough about it and had enough tools in my back pocket to beat it, I could wipe out resistance from my life.
But the problem with resistance is you can't actually kill it. Resistance is like that creature in the video game that keeps coming back over and over and over again no matter what you do. Even if you best it one day, days, weeks or months later it will pop up again, maybe even in a different form.
So if you can’t defeat it and stop it from ever showing up again, what do you do with resistance?
The trick with resistance is recognizing it for what it is. Similar to calling Voldemort by his name, calling out resistance takes away some of its power over you.
When resistance pops up, that means that you're doing something pretty big and awesome. Resistance doesn’t show up when you're making a lateral move, when you're taking a backward step or even when you're doing something easy.
Resistance only shows up when you're doing something hard, scary and worth doing.
You've probably heard many other terms for resistance, too. Seth Godin likes to call it the lizard brain. You might have also heard the term monkey mind or monkey brain. Gay Hendricks calls it your Upper Limit and Jen Sincero calls it BS (or rather the Big Snooze).
I like to call resistance roadblocks, after all they show up on your journey through life as a barrier between where you are at now and where you would like to be going. And if you’re familiar with Joseph Cambell’s The Hero’s Journey, then you also know that the roadblocks a hero faces on their journey is what helps to take them to the next level so that eventually they have enough experience to slay the dragon in the end.
You might be very far away from your supreme ordeal with the dragon (or in artistic terms your wildest creative dreams coming into fruition in the real world), but that doesn’t mean you can’t start gaining experience today to combat the roadblocks that will show up in your creative journey.
The very first step you need to take to level up against your roadblocks is to get very good at recognizing them for what they are.
The next time procrastination, self doubt, criticism, worry, or fear pop up, I want you to ask yourself: is this actually resistance? Is this a roadblock that your brain is creating to keep you safe, but in that moment it’s actually preventing you from leveling up?
Call it out for what it is. Then remind yourself that it wouldn’t be there if you were doing something small or easy. It’s there because you are about to level up in a way you could never possibly imagine.
Victoria Hines is a Creative Career Coach who helps creative artists navigate career pivots as well as level-up in their careers so that they can build a life that is energizing and sustainable. She spent over 10 years working in primarily the theater and film industries as an actor, events producer, arts administrator, and fundraiser working with theater companies, conferences, festivals, and live events. As a teenage cancer survivor and artist herself, she deeply understands navigating uncertainty and trying to answer the age-old question: how do you do what you love and make a living?
You can learn more at www.victoriahines.com or tune into her weekly podcast The Empowered Creatives: Finding Confidence Between Hustle and Burnout on Apple, Spotify or wherever you like to listen. You can also follow her on Instagram @thevictoriahines.