Updated: Aug 24, 2021
How We Can Use Resistance for Growth
We all face resistance in life, whether it be stress at work or a personal crisis, resistance is inevitable. Resistance can show up in many ways from self-sabotage to a physical ailment and sometimes it can catch us completely off guard with an unexpected challenge that uproots our entire world. And while the discomfort of resistance can be unpleasant and at times downright unbearable, it also provides a space for growth and achievement.
The Road Less Traveled
Resistance allows us moments to overcome and become stronger than we were before. When I think of resistance, I envision a path with twists and turns, and along this path are places that make us feel safe and there are also bumps and hills, some steeper than others. Sometimes we choose to crawl into those little pockets of space where we feel safe and comforted and other times we choose to keep moving, sometimes walking uphill but then finding relief at the top and a high as we ease down. There is no finish line, just choices, moments, and opportunities. I believe that on this path we can become stuck as we come across moments of short-term pleasure where we may think that if we stay put we will continue to feel good but in fact, we can get lost on this roundabout wheel that continues to spin in repetition over and over again. This wheel moves us further away from delayed gratification and backward into the direction of short-term pleasure. In our efforts to chase what feels good we become stuck and lose the opportunity to move through what is hard. However, if we use moments of arrival and achievement as highlights on our path and continue to move forward without an ego and without getting stuck, we move closer to delayed gratification and the betterment of our future self. Progressing forward can be scary because there are places that are dark and haunting, and the unknown is unpredictable; we also know that the further we go the more bumps and hills and mountains we will encounter. But sometimes we push through anyway: we encounter resistance and instead of moving back toward short-term ease we move into challenge and struggle; we fight and push and go through that difficult space because there is something better on the other side. In this space we are fighting for ourselves and our right to live the life we want.
A Culture of Convenience
Perhaps we have become too soft, too lazy, too busy to see what is right in front of us which is an opportunity for growth and a chance to feel better, later. We live in fear of burnout yet all we do is run toward it. All of our obligations, meetings, plans, and commitments might be the exact things that are keeping us stuck in the fleeting moments of short-term results. In taking the time to step back and unravel from our own personal hamster wheel, we may begin to see that we are merely trudging through a to do list without true intention or meaning. Maybe we are busy so that we do not have to do the real work of moving forward. So the question begs, how do we snap out of it and reignite our journey? It begins with small everyday choices that will prepare us for the big things. The consistency of our daily choices guide us forward and toward the next moment of resistance and when we hit that resistance we simply make the next best choice. For example, beginning a new work-out routine can be fun, exciting, and possibly even easy, yet as you continue to push your body, day after day you will eventually become tired and what was once easy gets hard (your proverbial bump in the road) and this is where you have the option to make the next best choice which is to move through your routine even though you do not feel like it. It will be the days that you don’t want to, but you push through that you prove to yourself that you can, and this changes everything.
*Tools for success
The journey to success is arduous and lined with unexpected plot twists but there are tools to overcome resistance and it starts with *compounding one good choice after the other, starting with setting a goal and a vision for yourself and then lining your journey with decisions that will lead you forward. And on the days that resistance shows up you will find that your habits and choice points keep you moving ahead even when are not at your best. Another tool is a *focus on delayed gratification by connecting with your future self: who do you want to be and what choices will you need to make to arrive? It is visualizing your future self and checking in with delayed gratification, “Hi there self, I'm on my way, see you soon.” *Lastly, it is important to build in time for real recovery so that you can recharge and build your energy back up after moving through difficult stretches. This does not mean scrolling through your phone or partying with friends, instead, it is giving yourself time to reset which could take on the form of meditation, yoga, long walks in nature and carving out more extended periods of recovery as often as you need. Without proper recovery you will become depleted and eventually fall back into the short-term pleasure wheel. This work takes time. It does not happen overnight. The majority of successful people do not get there in a day, for some of them it takes years or even decades. The work to become better is not only hard but is also boring; it is the sequencing of one choice after the next to build daily habits that help you sustain when you do not feel your best and your willpower is depleted. But as we move through resistance and push past our plateaus, there is no greater satisfaction than the relationship we build with ourselves through the commitment to ongoing growth and improvement.
The average age for business founders is 40.
Designer Vera Wang did not design her first dress until age 40.
Zipcar co-founder and former CEO, Robin Chase did not co-found Zipcar until age 42.
Actor Harrison Ford worked as a self-taught carpenter to support his family while auditioning for films, eventually he landed a role in Star Wars at age 35.
Author Stephen King received rejection letter after rejection letter, but he continued to write and work through an addiction to drugs and alcohol until the book Carrie finally set his career into motion.
Former CEO of McDonalds Ray Kroc was a milkshake device salesman until age 52 where he purchased McDonalds and became credited for the food chain’s expansion.
Source: Business Insider