The War of Art, Part 1: Resistance

There comes a time in your life when you reach a crossroads.  You have a task/painting/manuscript/project in front of you.  You know that it is within your power to push forward and accomplish it… and yet…

I’ve found myself in this place so many times I get frustrated every time I think about it.  While working on my Master’s thesis, I was introduced to a simple yet profound book that helped me cut through the crap and accomplish what I set out to do.  Today, I share a few wonderful bits with you from…

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

The Unlived Life

Most of us have two lives.  The life we live, and the unlived life within us.  Between the two stands Resistance.

Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic?  Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice?  Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others?  Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, and advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment?  Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be?  Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture?  Then you know what Resistance is…

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet.  It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction.  To yield to Resistance deforms your spirit.  It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be.  If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius…

Resistance’s Greatest Hits

The following is a list, in no particular order, of those activities that most commonly elicit Resistance:

1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.

2) The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.

3) Any diet or health regimen… (etc.)

Resistance Is Insidious

Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.  It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole.  Resistance is protean.  It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you.  It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.  Resistance has no conscience.  It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned.  If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get.  Resistance is always lying and always full of s***.

In my thirty years of life, I’ve come up against various incarnations of Resistance.  The most difficult one to defeat was while I was working on my Master’s thesis.  I wish I could tell you that I was amazingly motivated and just kicked Resistance to the curb… No… I fought him every single day.  I willfully ignored him as he sat on my couch, eating my snacks, watching my tv, pointing out all the shortcomings that I have ever struggled with… He’s a real jerk.

The second part of Pressfield’s book gave me some tools and modes of thinking to combat Resistance. Check back next Thursday for the next installment of The War of Art, Part 2: Becoming a Professional.

Tanya Barber

Tanya Barber has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and a Master’s in Theater History. She currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri but is anticipating a move to Seattle in the near future. Check out her blog to find out more.

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