Slaying the Dragon of Resistance

I am sharing the following because I didn’t get an email out to you last week.  I failed to slay the dragon of resistance.  The following is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of the book by Steven Pressfield “The War of Art” It is by a long mile the best book I’ve read on the struggle to do whatever it is we are called to do.  He is most famous as the writer behind the movie with Matt Damon and Will Smith “The Legend of Badger Vance.”  I can’t recommend this and his other book “Do the Work” highly enough, I revisit them both often when the Dragon is breathing down my neck.


Resistance defining the enemy. Resistances greatest hits.

The following is a list in no particular order of  those activities that most commonly elicit resistance.

1. The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, or dance or any creative art however marginal or unconventional.

2. The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise for profit or otherwise.

3. Any diet or health regimen.

4. Any program of spiritual advancement.

5. Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.

6. Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.

7. Education of every kind.

8. Any act of political, ethical, or moral courage including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.

9. The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavour whose aim is to help others.

10. Any act that entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married to have a child to whether a rocky patch in a relationship.

11. The taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity.

In other words any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long term growth, health, or integrity. Or expressed another way, and act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower.  Any of these will elicit resistance.

Now. what are the characteristics of resistance? Resistance is invisible. Resistance can not be seen touched heard or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from our working potential. It’s a repelling force. Its negative its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.

Resistance is internal.  Resistance seems to come from outside ourselves.  We locate it in houses, jobs, bosses, and kids. Peripheral opponents as Pat Riley used to say when he coached the Los Angeles Lakers. Resistance is not a peripheral opponent resistance. It rises from within. It is self generated and self perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.

Resistance is insidious. Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work,  it will perjure, fabricate, falsify, seduce, bully, or cajole. It will assume any form if that is what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jab a nine millimeter in your face like a stick up man.

Resistance has no conscious  it will pledge anything to get a deal, then double cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take resistance at it’s word you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.

Resistance is implacable is like the Alien, or the Terminator, or the shark in jaws it cannot be reasoned with. It understands nothing but power. It is an engine of destruction. Programmed from the factory with one objective only – to prevent us from doing our work. Resistance is implacable, intractable, indefatigable. Reduce it to a single cell and that cell will continue to attack. This is resistances nature it is all it knows.

Resistance is impersonal, it’s not out to get you personally it doesn’t know who you are and doesn’t care. Resistance is a force of nature it acts objectively. Though it feels malevolent resistance in fact operates with the indifference of rain and transits the heaven by the same laws as the stars. When we marshal our forces to combat resistance we must remember this.

Resistance is infallible like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil. Resistance will unfailingly point to true north, meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this, we can use it as a compass. We can navigate by resistance letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.

Rule of thumb: the more important the call to action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

Resistance is universal. We’re wrong if we think we are the only ones struggling with resistance.  Everyone who has a body experiences resistance. Resistance never sleeps.  Henry Fonda was still throwing up before each stage performance even when he was 75.  In other words fear doesn’t go away.  The warrior and the artist live by this same code of necessity which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.

Resistance plays for keeps. Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable, resistance aims to kill.  It’s target is the epicenter of our being, our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us.

Resistance means business.  When we fight it were in a war to the death. Resistance is fueled by fear. Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer resistance. Resistance only opposes in one direction.  Resistance only obstructs movement from a lower sphere to a higher one.  It kicks in when we seek to pursue a calling in the arts, launch an innovative enterprise, or evolve to a higher station morally, ethically, or spiritually.  So, if you’re in Calcutta working with the Mother Teresa Foundation and you are thinking of bolting to launch a career in telemarketing – relax- resistance will give you a free pass.

Resistance is most powerful at the finish line….The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point resistance knows we are about to beat it. It hits the panic button it marshalls one last assault and slams us with everything it’s got. The professional must be alert for this counter attack.  Be wary at the end.

Resistance recruits allies. Resistance by definition is self sabotage. But there is a parallel peril that must also be guarded against. Sabotage by others. When a writer begins to  her overcome her resistance and she actually begins to write she may find that those close the her begin acting strange.  They may become moody or sullen they may get sick they may accuse the awakening writer of changing of not being the person she was. The closer these people are to the awakening writing the more bizarrely they will act and the more emotion they will put behind their actions. They are trying to sabotage her.  The reason is they are struggling consciously or unconsciously against their own resistance. The awakening writer’s success becomes a reproach to them. If she can beat these demons then why can’t they. Often couples or close friends will enter into tacit contract whereby each individual pledges unconsciously to remain mired in the same slew in which she and her cronies have become so comfortable.  The highest treason a crab can commit is to make a leap for the rim of the bucket. The awakening artist must be ruthless not only with herself but with others. Once you make your break you can’t turn around for your buddy who catches his trouser leg on the barbed wire. The best thing you can do for that friend – and he’d tell you this himself if he really is your friend – is to get over the the wall and keep motivating.  The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.

***If you made it this far congrats! I can send several copies of the Audio version of this book out for free using the Audible App. First few people that respond and ask me get a free book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. Just reply and ask for the book.

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