I’m caught in a cycle. Every morning I tell myself I’m going to accomplish THE THING. You know the one, the thing that I’ve been pushing to the bottom of the to-do list for 2 weeks. I’m absolutely going to do it today. At 10:00 PM tonight I will give up and put it on the list for tomorrow.
Why can’t I get this done? It’s big and important and new. I care about it. I promise myself I’m going to do it. I expect myself to do it. I believe I can do it. I don’t do it. Then I’m upset with myself because I made a promise I didn’t keep and I can’t figure out why. There is no one to blame, I am doing it all to myself for some mysterious reason.
The only answer anyone can come up with to this not-doing-THE-THING — something is wrong with me. I’m lazy, unproductive, not practicing gratitude, silence, exercising and on and on. Whatever is keeping me from doing THE THING is wrong with me or my behavior — something that needs to be adjusted, corrected, annihilated. When one of my over achieving clients told me she was lazy, I knew all of the reasoning we came up with about why we can’t do THE THING was completely wrong. There is nothing wrong with us, nothing that needs to be eradicated. We can't "Just Do It!" as Nike encourages.
It’s simply resistance — normal, everyday, built-into-us resistance existing for the sole purpose of protecting us. It’s our attempt to avoid the pain associated with successfully doing THE THING. It’s a simple answer but not easy steps.
It’s not the big bad wolf or some cosmic force in the universe holding us back. It’s our own internal resistance designed to keep us from pain. When we come to this realization, it’s easy to see how labeling it lazy or lack of discipline is not accurate or helpful.
Here are some new action steps to move us forward:
Internal resistance is for us, with us, on our side. It has no desire to cause us to fail or create pain for us, it is actually working really hard to protect us from pain. We are not being self-destructive. We simply have two contradictory ideas about what is best for us.
Turn toward pain.
Turn toward the pain our brains are so worried about. Ask ourselves:
What am I afraid of?
What do I need to be protected from?
What is this pain I’m not facing?
Acknowledging and understanding the pain, the fear, the worry creates a space where resistance is not necessary.
Wrestling with the pain and fear will take some time. While we diligently do a deep dive to face the pain and fear, consider wheeling and dealing with our inner resistance. Rather than announcing, “I’m going to do THE THING today!” Ask our inner resistance, “Would you allow me to work on THE THING for only 20 minutes this morning?” Or “Could I write a list about THE THING? “ Or “What if I brainstorm about THE THING while I’m driving and audio record my thoughts?”
Recognizing I-can’t-do-THE-THING as resistance trying to protect me frees up so much mental space. Now I am able to move forward in more than one way, not only on THE THING but also on the fear, worry, pain. Even though we feel like we have been at war with ourselves for days, it’s important to note we are still holding out for THE THING — the goal, the plan, the achievement. This is incredible!
Our inner resistance is a measure of how much we want this. So don’t give up now, take a fresh look at it. I know you want to live a life of direction and purpose not one where you can never get THE THING done. In order to do that you need to be confident in who you are. Getting stuck in this inner resistance loop leaves you feeling like you’re not enough. I believe it’s just wrong for any of us to feel stuck. You deserve to be who you were meant to be and accomplish what you were meant to accomplish. I know what it feels like to second guess myself to the point of being paralyzed by not believing I’m enough. That’s why I have created a proven framework to help take you from second guessing (ignoring your inner resistance) to making progress on the life you want to live. Let’s get started today.