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Moving Through Resistance: Igniting Your Courage to Change

Living a safe and comfortable life has not been part of my path and recently I found myself up to my earlobes in resistance.

Resistance looks like procrastination, starting and not finishing projects, moving from one activity to the next, forgetting your goal, not being able to make a decision, feeling paralyzed so nothing actually gets done, or feeling anxiety about putting your nose to the grindstone (hate this image, but it’s kind of how it feels….).  It’s a nagging that won’t let up.

You try to solve the inability to get going, the lack of focus, or whatever else seems to be getting in the way…  But it’s all smoke and mirrors…

What has kicked in is your most primal, instinctual part of your brain intended to save you from “danger.”  (Unfortunately, it does not know the difference between a saber toothed tiger and a stress-induced situation).  It makes your fight/flight kick into overdrive while shutting off your pre-frontal cortex, therefore your ability to reason and move towards your intended desire.

Resistance feels like you are walking through deep mud.  It’s sticky and messy like molasses.  It puts you knee deep into inertia, an inability to move forward – with a side accompaniment of toxic thoughts that lead directly to the fear of  “not good enough.”

If you are a one who is inspired to pursue your Right Livelihood and wish to build an on-line presence, resistance is GINORMOUS (Is that a word?).  You are called to do this “thing” that isn’t totally clear yet, and you notice you can’t really get started or can’t complete it…

This is what happened to me last week:  I had put my heart and passion into a project, took risks, stepped out of my comfort level, kept tweaking it, only to get NO response.  I found myself taking a swan dive straight into Inertia.

Inertia is resistance.

I had to sit in it to recognize I was not on the wrong path – it was not a message from the “universe” telling me to stop.  It was the voice of resistance that made me stop, and will have you stop in your tracks whenever you are attempting to do something new, edgy, scary – whether it be launching a new product or service, or leaving your safe “JOB” to do start a business that makes your heart flutter.

Here are the cast of characters that might plague you.  (My apologies if you happen to have these names…)

Barraging Bertha (that’s what I’ve called my Fear Gremlin)  will clutter your thoughts with:

I can’t do this.

What if it doesn’t work out?  I’ll look like an idiot.

I’ll be so embarrassed and ashamed.

What will _________ think?  (Fill blank with anyone that matters…)

So and so did something similar.  Am I just a fake?

Suppose nobody signs up?

Comparing Carla:

How can __________ get SO many people in her program?  What’s wrong with me?

I’m not as good as her.

What does she have that I don’t?

My idea sucks.

Indecisive Irene:

I should rethink this.

Maybe I should act on that other idea.

I never finished that marketing program.  Maybe I should do that first before I do anything.

Avoiding Anna:

Let me sign up for a class so I’m better prepared.

The toilet needs cleaning.

Let me take a break on Facebook.  I always get inspired there.

I need to get something to drink.

Oh, I wanted to order that book.  Let me do that right now (in the middle of this project) so I don’t forget.

Warning: These activities could be great stress relievers but if you feel drained afterwards, they are zapping you of well-needed energy.

Justifying Justine:

I don’t think I’m really ready yet.

If I knew this could work out, or that I’m doing the right thing, I wouldn’t be so nervous.

I need to have it all figured out before I get started.

This cast of characters scatter your ability to create your inspired project.  They have you thinking that if you wait, you’ll be better equipped, it will be more polished.  You decide to postpone your launch.  Instantly you feel relief.  See?  Told you….

But it’s a lie.

Once more you’ve given up on yourself and on the shelf your project goes – on top of all the other dust collecting ones you started and never finished.

A year later you find  the folder with all your notes.  You see the program you promised yourself to work on.  It sat on the shelf.  And, despite it being a pretty good idea you kick yourself for not doing anything with it.

Here’s the truth: Discovering what you were meant to do is fairly easy.  It’s the doing that gets things all mucked up. 

Doing what you were born to do mean you have to actually be yourself.  It means giving up on being who you have been.  That thought alone, would send the average person running for the hills.  

You mean give up who I’ve been?

If who you’ve been is a pretense, then, yes.  It’s time to become unapologetically, authentically, honestly and truly YOU – in whatever form it takes.  It also means you give yourself permission to walk the edge, to be exposed (as in a bikini…), to feel vulnerable.

Getting to a place where I could share myself in a way that feels authentic has been the fuel to my journey as I’ve spent the majority of my life being guarded.  It is freeing – not because I am no longer afraid, but because there’s an ease to me now that no longer fights to be someone else.

And it feels really scrumptious to be here.

For so many of my clients, resistance shows up when they begin to make change and align with their desires.  Did you read that?  Resistance protects you from feeling shame/disappointment/anxiety/embarrassment if you don’t “make it.”

So you spend hours, weeks, or years avoiding the feelings and live in anxiety instead – which lead you down the rocky road of over-eating, over-spending, over-drinking, over-overing….. Anything to avoid feeling…..  And no closer to living the life of your dreams.

You can’t avoid those feelings if you are pursuing and creating your life’s work – whatever shape it takes.

When we follow our calling, resistance is part of the package.

Even those “Comparing Carla” loves to measure herself by, who are experiencing great amounts of success, who have arrived, who are doing what they set out to do – all experience resistance.  But they all have learned this:

Action moves fear out of the way.

They know that if they let themselves be led by fear and resistance, they will not get anywhere.  It is in feeling, being vulnerable and acting despite it that makes them such amazing, charismatic and inspiring teachers.  They are True and there is nothing quite so attractive as that kind of brilliance.

Acting despite fear and resistance is key.  In fact, in moving through it, the feelings tend to fall away.

Know that any desire worth having – whether it be starting your own business, ending a partnership, changing your relationship with your body – all will require you to walk into that ring of fire.

AND it will ignite your courage to change.

This journey called life demands that you break free of pretense, that you live your life out loud, that you follow your dreams, that you greet resistance with a nod and that you act anyway.  You are beautiful and brilliant beyond measure, and you are meant to do what your heart desires.

Are you going to let your resistance step in between you and you Right Livelihood?

I didn’t.  Okay, she slowed me down some, stuck me in inertia for a few days.  But I’m here now, right?

I’d love to hear from you.  How does resistance show up for you and how do you move through it.  Do you have specific tools to share with us?

P.S. While this material doesn’t cost you a cent, I am building my Right Livelihood, after all.  So all I ask from you is to share this article with at least 3 friends.  Fair trade, right? xoxo



6 Responses to “Moving Through Resistance: Igniting Your Courage to Change”

  1. Mary says:

    I know resistance all too well. It shows up as “not good enough”, “there are people way better than me”, “I don’t know enough yet”, I’ll be found out as a fraud, I need more training, etc etc. it’s so tough to get through those success stoppers. I have so many great ideas and I know they would work with the right place ad enough money to start it. I’d love to have an art center that combines all ages. Putting kids, pets and senior citizens together under one roof as they create together sounds so crazy but the dream won’t let go. I love the seniors I work with and working in a nursing home and watching them waste away from boredom just kills me. I want the end of their lives to be joyful. I want to incorporate kids and pets in the mix to enliven the center and make it a cultural destination, a cutting edge place for the huge aging population and their families to come together and create. Ageless Art needs to be created but I need a building, a plan and money and I don’t know where to start. So it doesn’t get done!

    • Joëlle says:

      Sometimes we have to just focus on the “What” and let go of the “How.” Actually, I’d say just focus on the “What”. When we are aligned with our Right Livelihood, the how seems to show up: the right people, circumstances, opportunities. I love the name “Ageless Art” – it conjures in my mind an image of a large room, floor to ceiling windows, light colored wood floors with plenty of space to create and move. It’s beautiful, and Mary – It needs to be born! I’ll hold the vision for you in the meantime. xoxoxo Joëlle

    • Cara Bryden says:

      I think you have a beautiful idea. As a Social Worker and Therapist I also see so much creative potential in the clients that I work with. A place like you have described is just what they need… of course money, time, transportation are all obstacles for some people. I someday would like to start my own private practice where I incorporate the Expressive Arts as a central role in the healing process. While I am doing some of this work right now I have a bigger dream on how I would like to serve the world. GOOD LUCK with yours:)

      • Joelle says:

        Cara, just you wait. Hold fast to your vision of an Expressive Arts Therapy practice… You are already, in your way, bringing these tools to those who need it most and shedding light on your dreams. Have faith, sister. All in good time. In the meantime, holding the vision here along with you… xoxo Joëlle

  2. Christina Venter says:

    Hallo Friends. Take a deep breath and leap into the change that will propel you forward to your true self. Much success to you Joelle. One does not have to conform. Just be true and flexible when need be. It is ok to be who you were created to be.

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