The Voice of Resistance is NOT the Real Inner Voice

Filed in Finding & Following Your Voice, When Writing Is Hard by on April 29, 2011 • views: 456

Steven Pressfield wrote in his book The War of Art that resistance with a capital “R” raises its ugly head anytime we try to pursue something that calls to us from our higher nature. Such activities, he says, may include any calling in any creative art, any diet or health regime, any program of spiritual advancement, education of every kind, any act of courage including the decision to change for the better, the taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity…and any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.

I get to that last one on the list and I laugh every time. It’s so true! I’ve learned to discipline myself to run, bike, stretch, and do pushups, but abdominal exercises continue to elude me. I get to them once in awhile, but my usual excuse is I don’t have time.

It’s human nature to resist those things that are “good” for us. Who knows why? It’s so universally true that Pressfield goes so far as to say that we can use this feeling of resistance as a guideline—if you’re feeling it, most likely you’re about to do the right thing.

“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil,” Pressfield writes, “Resistance will unfailingly point to true North—meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing….We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.”

Richard Machowicz, former Navy Seal and author of Unleash the Warrior Within, writes about “Hell Week,” a period of six days and five nights of hard physical labor meant to push trainees to their limits. The trick? The potential Seals can give up at any moment simply by “ringing the bell.” The instructors, with the goal of keeping only the best candidates, constantly remind trainees of the option to bow out.

“All you have to do is get up and ring the bell. You know you want to . . . why are you putting yourself through this?” The trainees must ignore not only the instructors’ taunts, but those little voices inside them that so badly want to just quit and get it over with.

This is another way Resistance tries to fool us—by whispering in our minds taunts like the instructors verbalized. “You don’t have to do this. Why should you work so hard? Better to take the afternoon off. Who says you have to be an artist anyway? You’ll never succeed and you know it. Wouldn’t you rather focus your efforts on earning more money, or having some fun?”

We have to be careful when we hear this little voice that we don’t mistake it for our real inner voice. Just remember that at the first sign of difficulty—when you encounter an obstacle in your path, receive some difficult feedback or criticism, feel tired or burned out or just plain scared—that this other voice will speak up. It’s not your inner voice. It’s the voice of Resistance.

Any voice that makes you fearful, causes you to hesitate, brings up all your self-doubts, or makes you second-guess yourself is the voice of Resistance. Any voice that encourages you to keep moving forward, tells you that you can do it, reminds you of your commitment, or pushes you to fulfill your potential is the real inner voice.

Pressfield writes: “Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

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