We, humans, love to give ourselves a hard time. We learn to ignore our intuition, even when we feel our stomachs drop or our shoulders tense up. We think that we need to tackle our weaknesses head-on every single time, and to push, push, push.
We are brought up in a world that is told to rise and grind (cringe, anyone?) and to do it all with a smile on our face because look! We’re so strong! And, thus, successful!
But this type of workstyle breeds stress, starting in our minds (like resentment and anxiety) and ending up in our bodies (in the form of headaches, digestive issues, and more). When our bodies start talking, we don’t always listen. But what if we did? What if there was something our minds and bodies were telling us, with its very clear signals of resistance?
Resistance may be best defined by Steven Pressfield, who says that it’s, “a universal force that has one sole mission: to keep things as they are. It is the force that will stop an individual’s creative activity through any means necessary, whether it be rationalizing, inspiring fear and anxiety, emphasizing other distractions that require attention, raising the voice of an inner critic, and much more. It will use any tool to stop creation flowing from an individual. Its sole mission is to sabotage aspirations.”
Though similar to burnout and fatigue, resistance is what’s at the root of our anxiety and self-doubt, leading to those aforementioned feelings that we are all too familiar with. And while resistance sounds scary, there can be comfort in knowing that it’s something almost all of us will inevitably feel in some capacity. So rather than trying to fight it tooth and nail, there are ways that we can better recognize it, honor it, and work through it.
Facing resistance at work or in a project can stem from a few places, including your own perceived idea that you aren’t credible. In these types of situations, you might start to tell yourself stories that aren’t true, as if there’s something inherently wrong with you specifically. Or, even worse, that in order for you to do your very best work, it must be arduous and anxiety-riddled. Time-consuming and utterly draining. That if you’re not facing resistance, or having moments of creative despair, that there is something wrong with you; that you aren’t strong enough.
On top of all of that, trudging through resistance doesn’t always mean that we’re working hard. And especially when it comes to creative work, it may just mean that we’re hardly working, and having a miserable time while doing it.
Being Gentle With Yourself
We’ve all had moments where we felt stuck, burned out, distracted, uninspired, or just plain over it and not sure how to proceed. So instead of telling yourself a story about how you’re a failure, why not flip the script?
What if creating your best work projects was fun, easy, and brought a sense of lightness into your day and – drumroll please – into your mind and body. That you weren’t clenching your jaw, skipping lunch, or being short-tempered with your spouse. That you worked hard, rested well, and felt a true sense of pride and accomplishment.
Of course, not every day is going to be easy and breezy, and difficult moments are bound to happen. But it’s important to reframe your thinking, and start to break the pattern that you must suffer to do your best work. Otherwise, you’re headed down an unsustainable path that will leave you unfulfilled. This type of suffering takes a toll on our minds and bodies, and so in an effort to lessen that as much as possible, it’s important to be more kind with ourselves.
Working Through Resistance
So, how does one be gentle during times of difficulty, when your mind and body are telling you that you just cannot right now? Here are some ideas.
- Step away from the computer and look out the window, have a glass of water, sit outside, or take a walk. In short: take a dang break!
- Depending on the deadline of a stuck project, try working on something else and come back to the stuck project later in the day, or maybe the next day. This way, you’ll be able to put the energy you do have onto something else, and you can come back to your stuck project with a fresh perspective.
- If you have the resources and/or co-workers available, ask for support. What may be difficult for you may be crystal clear to someone else. At the very least, you may make someone’s day because they felt honored you called upon them for help.
It can be a fine line between feeling resistance on a project vs. knowing in your soul that you may be on the wrong path. But the first step in finding more complete, pure happiness in your life is to listen truly to your soul, to your intuition, and to what your mind and body are telling you. Life is hard enough as it is without thinking that you need to suffer even more to prove to the world that you are capable. You are simply perfectly capable just as you are, with your unique and inherent strengths.