Everyone reading this article will have had to overcome resistance at some time in their lives. Resistance shows its face every time you think about doing something new, something you think will be hard or something you don’t want to do. It’s that uncomfortable feeling that hits you somewhere in your stomach or your chest. Successfully handling resistance is important if you want to get things done. Those that give in to resistance are the same people that tend to struggle with life.
Resistance can strike when you’re thinking about going to the gym, working on a report for work, calling the in-laws, mowing the grass or writing a blog for your website. Resistance has a big brother that is better known as procrastination, and in fact if you bump into resistance you can be assured that procrastination is just around the corner.
7 ways to overcome resistance and get things done
1. Recognize that it’s just a feeling. Your brain is excellent at dissuading you from doing things it considers dangerous on some level. However, resistance is nothing more than an uncomfortable feeling. You can deal with a little mild discomfort and avoid letting it derail your plans. The discomfort is much less severe than suffering through the common cold, and you’ve done that successfully many times.
2. Be observant and objective. One of the best ways to lessen the effect of resistance is to look at it objectively, like a scientist. You might think to yourself, “Hmm, isn’t that interesting? I think about going for a run and I get a slight queasy feeling high in my stomach.” Continue to observe and something interesting will happen. The negative feeling will begin to dissipate.
3. Don’t run. The common reaction is to distract yourself. Depending on your habits, you might turn on the TV, get on the internet, text a friend, or make a coffee. This is a huge mistake. Resistance can be a playful soul, and if you run away it thinks you’re playing and will keep catching up with you. Stay with the discomfort until it subsides. Running away just reinforces the pattern of allowing resistance to stop you doing what you want to do.
4. Don’t allow distractions to become distractions. By all means remove distractions, but don’t let the process of removing distractions to become a distraction in itself. Everyone has been in that position where they wanted to clear their desk but somehow ended up cleaning the whole office.
5. Focus on your breath. Concentrating on your breath will shut down your thinking. You can’t think about how much you don’t want to go to dinner at the in-laws if you’re preoccupied with your breath.
6. Keep task importance in mind. What is the purpose of getting this task done? A healthier body? Increased income? An attractive garden that won’t offend the neighbors? Have a good reason and you’ll be more motivated to get started and to continue.
7. Give yourself permission to be distracted. Recognize that the first step is the most challenging. Avoid thinking about sitting at your desk and working on a report for the next three hours. Instead, think about sitting down in front of the computer with a cup of coffee for fifteen minutes and give yourself permission to stop afterwards. If you’re headed for the gym and don’t feel like it, your primary task is to put on your workout clothes and give yourself permission to get out of them if you still don’t feel like going. Do whatever it takes to take that first step. Everything that follows is much easier.
Everyone deals with resistance each and every day. It’s part of the human condition. We naturally avoid those things that are perceived as unpleasant. However, your success is limited by how much you allow resistance to rule your decisions. Use these strategies to consistently overcome resistance and you’ll be back in charge of your life.
Till Next Time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor