To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Remember that from science class? And so it is that in every positive action you take, you are sure to encounter resistance in some form.
Resistance with a Capital R
Stephen Pressman, bestselling author of novels like Bagger Vance, says in his book The War of Art that resistance, like gravity, is a natural force in the Universe. You will meet it all throughout your life. He says that you will especially find it when you are taking a big step in a positive direction. The pursuing of any creative dream, social activism, new relationships - all will fall prey to the big R at some point. The point is to not be deterred by it. Here was the huge lesson for me. I have encountered resistance in the Universe every time I have tried to create positive change in the world. I’m certainly finding it, big time, in my activism for gun reform. I experienced huge resistance with my nonprofit programs for at-risk youth (lost funding, the flailing foster care system, difficult people who blocked our progress, etc.). I took it all very personally. After 8 years of fighting resistance I sort of felt the Universe was punishing me. I eventually gave up.
But now I think I get it. Every success is at some point met with failure. Think of every successful person you know. They are sure to have overcome a huge obstacle to get to where they are. We don’t take it personally that we are tethered to the ground by gravity. Nor should we be set back by resistance.
But resistance is not always an outside force. Often, Pressman says, resistance comes from ourselves in the form of the ego. But here’s where it all shifts for me. He says those resistant voices in your head that say You can’t do it. You’re crazy. You’re not good enough, smart enough, educated, talented, tall, short whatever it is you’re not enough…none of that is you.
That’s right. He says that voice is just resistance, that natural force in the universe. Resistance is not you. YOU are a pure, creative, loving spirit. Anything that is not pure, creative and loving is not the real you. How do you like that? So the next time that negative voice starts yammering away in your head, you don’t have to listen to it. It’s not you! Tune it out.
So what do we do when we meet with resistance? Pressman says we acknowledge it for the harmless natural force it is. We don’t take it personally or get upset. We persevere, and we push through it. Success and happiness are on the other side. Keep your eye on the prize.
Or to quote Pressman, "Put your ass where your heart is."
Check out this interview with Oprah and Pressman on Super Soul Sunday: