Resistance as a Homing Device

The other day I was listening to a podcast by author Matthew Selznick and he touched upon something quite remarkable about one of the obstacles that many artists / creatives face: Resistance

Contrary to the natural impulse of our minds and bodies to avoid resistance, the sustained practice of art, music, sports/athletics demands that we overcome this feeling. Our bodies have a natural tendency to select the path of least resistance. This may be a hard-wired survival instinct (or fatigue from day to day actives), but we must reflect on how we can override it so that we can expand our horizons and grow from whatever situation we are currently in.

Resistance is definitely real. You may start a project with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, but from what I have experienced time and time again, there is a wave of resistance that always follows. There will be a reason to stop, there will be a reason to not continue, and I realize that it is all part of life, it is all part of the game, it is all part of the cycle and pattern of being.

The resistance can be the brain being overwhelmed by the fact that it doesn’t know what is on the other side, or doesn’t know the result of your actions. The fact that it cannot calculate what will happen next creates some sort of cognitive dissonance and can create self-imposed barriers to achieving the creative goal.

To arrive at the core reason for the resistance may take an entire novel. Even if we don’t know the exact reason, I think we should take a moment to acknowledge when we feel it. Once we relax towards it we can see it for what it really is: just another emotion, and thought object that we are perceiving.

If we take a deep breath and observe the feeling for a second, can we take a look at what is pointing to? When there is this “wall” of resistance, can we take a peek and look what’s on the other side?

What is the opposite of the pain of not finishing a painting? of not finishing a song? of an unwritten novel? A forgotten golf swing? A unlived dream?

In exploring this we may possibly discover what is on the other side. If only for that, the journey of overcoming resistance may be a point of growth and wisdom. We may not get what we want, but we might learn something that will change our life.

Next time we feel the ache of resistance, maybe we can turn it into torch that will lead us towards creative fulfillment.