Resistance (Part 3)
In the last blog entry we looked at how resistance shows up in the form of fear and many times leaves us paralyzed. The antidote is to start and focus on building momentum.
The bad news is that resistance isn’t defeated simply by starting. Once you get going it shows up in a completely new form called uncertainty.
I apologize that so many of my stories are triathlon related but I can’t help myself.
I was on my bike racing (more like trying to survive) the Vineman Triathlon and I was about 70 miles into the 120-mile bike ride. For the first time that day I was completely alone on the road and I had just raced down a long hill and had blown through some turns. It started slow but before I knew it I was feeling really confused and uncertain. I started to second guess whether I had missed a turn and was now simply wandering through vineyards. The road was full of curves and I kept hoping that with each turn I’d see a marker or at least another racer. I looked behind and couldn’t see or hear anyone.
It was at this point that I wasn’t sure whether to keep going or to turn around. I didn’t want to wander further off course and I also didn’t want to waste time going backwards.
Resistance shows up when you are in the middle of change. It shows up at that point that it is too hard to turn around but you don’t have the strength or confidence to keep going.
Uncertainty shows up as anxiety, self-doubt, and feeling overwhelmed.
For parents, uncertainty shows up when we have taken the cell phone away, won’t let our kid attend an event with their friends, won’t allow a game to be played, or decide that the TV needs to be off during dinner.
The kids will say a bunch of things and you’re prepared for that type of resistance but most likely you aren’t prepared for the uncertainty that is coming from your own mind. Thoughts include: Maybe this is a stupid idea. Maybe I’m being paranoid. Maybe I am old-fashioned. Maybe I’m making too big a deal about this. Maybe there isn’t such a thing as a strong family.
Uncertainty can stop us in our tracks, making us unsure which direction to go. It also can be a time that our kids can pounce on our weakness and push us to quit changing things.
Two things to encourage you:
- You are normal. Everyone feels uncertain in the middle of hard changes.
- You will always feel uncertain before you feel certain.
To defeat uncertainty, you need to first get focused and then push through. Remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Get to the “why” of the changes – what do you want your kids to experience through the change? What will they not experience if you don’t make the change? Once you know why, you have a much-needed perspective.
Second, when the fun is gone, keep going. It takes discipline and a lot of energy to keep going when things seem uncertain.
I swim most of the time in a pool. I can easily tell if I’m moving. I can see the bottom of the pool, and I can turn around every 16 strokes. When I’m swimming in a lake I lose all feedback and I can’t tell whether I’m going fast or slow. I look down and I see nothing, I look ahead and I see blurry things, I look back and it looks like I just started. And so I do my best imitation from Finding Nemo and say, “Just keep swimming…just keep swimming…” and trust that if I do the things to move, that I’m moving even if I don’t feel like I am.
And so, keep doing the things that move you along. Focus on consistency, communication, and the plan that you have. I’m not saying don’t make changes if you discover things that need to be changed, but don’t just go in circles of uncertainty. Move.
The good news is that uncertainty is followed by certainty.
After about 10 minutes of agony in that bike race through the vineyards, I passed a volunteer and then I started passing and being passed again. I was confident again, and I’m glad I kept going.
I encourage you to defeat resistance and keep going. Next we’ll look at another aspect of resistance that keeps us from feeling satisfied.
If you are interested in learning more about defeating resistance in your work and creative life, I encourage you to look at materials by Steven Pressfield including “The War of Art,” which is the foundation for this blog series on resistance.