Since the beginning of the year I’ve been trying to re-establish a daily creative practice for my work. I’ve bought new supplies, created new spaces, and daydreamed about all of the work I want to make but none of those things have worked. I’m still tangled up in resistance. At this point, it’s holding me back because nothing’s being made. Have you ever felt that way?
I’m tired of the same old struggle so I’ve been building my awareness around resistance so that I can understand it better. Before I always thought that if I waited long enough my resistance would go away. Clearly it’s still here, just as present as ever so that’s not working. At other times I thought maybe I’d outgrown my resistance because my work was coming easily until one day I’d become stuck again and feel defeated. Why? Because you don’t outgrow resistance you just meet resistance in new places.
Unfortunately resistance will always show up when it comes to creating and doing the work that we feel called to do. It’s a shape-shifter that comes in as perfectionism, procrastination, the sudden sense of urgency you feel about doing the dishes during the same time you said you were going to make art – or whatever that thing you said you were going to do is. We find ways to delay taking action because staying where we are, without doing that thing, feels very safe and familiar. That other stuff we want to do is new and unusual – we might run into danger and danger = death.
See, resistance is a protection mechanism that once served us well when we were being hunted but in our lives today resistance leads us to self-destruction. So, what can we do? Here are a few things that I’m finding helpful:
Notice When Resistance Shows Up and What Shape It Takes
Do you struggle with perfectionism? That’s resistance. Frequently find yourself making excuses? That’s resistance. Always needing to take a break even if you’ve just started? It goes without saying but again, that’s resistance. Identifying your specific kind of resistance will help you overcome it.
Make It Easy
Knowing that you’ll meet resistance while getting around to your work, make it easy for yourself to get started. Not having things ready will give your resistance lots of excuses to work with. Are your supplies ready and waiting? Is your space clear? If not, what can you do to change that?
Creating rituals or little patterns of habit around your process can help you ease into your work. Something simple like pouring a hot cup of coffee, lighting a candle, or turning on certain music before you start can lessen the chance that resistance will find you. Alternatively, avoid rituals that will bring your resistance in like scrolling on social media and always avoid those before working.
Take It Slow
When trying to make changes and move beyond your comfort zone, go slow. Ease into the new ways of being over time. That way you won’t meet with too much discomfort all at once. Little by little what was once uncomfortable will no longer be noticeable and you’ll have expanded without too much resistance.
Show Up and Do The Work
Some days you might only scribble a sketch or free write for fifteen minutes. Maybe what you make won’t even be any good but you’re there taking action and that’s already an accomplishment. Resistance gets stronger when we hide from it. Showing up to do the work is like saying, “Hello Resistance, it’s nice to see you again. Would you like to sit with me while I do this?” and Resistance will snarl and growl like a wild beast but before long it will wear itself out and you’ll still be there doing the work.
These are just a few of the helpful tools I’m currently working with to help me overcome resistance. What have you found helpful in dealing with resistance when it comes up? Let me know in the comments below.
All The Best,