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Recognize Your Resistance To Get To Your Most Important Work

When I created my third album Interpretations, I was in my last quarter of my MBA program at Stanford.

When you listen in on that album, you can tell my mindset was opposing something bigger than me.

A system that didn’t completely gel with my body.

There’s a song in there called “Teacher” (check it out).

The intro starts with a teacher describing what a resistor is.

He goes:

“What is a resistor? A good definition might be this one. A resistor is a passive electrical component with a primary function to limit the flow of electric current”

Then in comes the jarring beat to shut the teacher off (Sorry teacher, you were resisting my flow).

7 years later, I have learned more about resistance.

In this case, not about electrical circuits, but more about how it hinders progress in life.

The Invisible Veil of Resistance

Most people are unhappy.

Behind the cloak of fake smiles and curated social media posts. We are in an era where we have taken “fake it till you make it” to the next level.

It was once very linear. It used to be only about money. A young entrepreneur, bootstrapping her way to the shining land littered with gold trimmings and lace linens.

Now we fake happiness.

Portraying an exterior well being that does not match how we feel on the inside.

Some people have faked it so much that they have tricked themselves to believe their own well being.

The reality is that most of us have two lives.

  • The life we’re living 
  • and the unlived life within

Between the two is resistance.

Resistance has one job and that’s to pull you away from doing your soul’s work. The work that only you can do.

Most people don’t know about resistance

They are submerged in its boiling fumes but fanned by its cool breeze.

It’s illusive
It’s everywhere

I came across this in Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art.

Resistance is the real enemy.

until we acknowledge it, we will continue to procrastinate, distract ourselves, and have self-doubt.

That dream of ours, we wouldn’t get closer to it today than we were yesterday.

The first step to living a more fulfilled life is to understand and recognize resistance

Resistance is all around you and it doesn’t want you to win.

3 Ways to Recognize and Overcome Resistance

Overcome resistance simply by being aware of it.

No secret pill. 

Just be aware of it.

When this happens, you’ll recognize the signs of resistance that’s holding you back. You’ll stop blaming other people for your problems.

You’ll hold yourself accountable to your own goals and you’ll know how to consistently push back against it.

Here are 3 things to become more aware of your internal resistance.

1. Resistance. What is it?

Resistance is the real matrix

I used a system called AIS (Ass-in-Seat) to write my first book, Press Play.

I learned that writing wasn’t what was difficult.
Sitting down to write was the difficult bit.

So with AIS, I forced myself to sit down for 15 minutes, and look at my computer screen. Regardless of whether I wrote or not. I just sat and wrote until my timer went off.

I didn’t realize I was training my creative vessel for the everyday battle against resistance.

“The pro writer knows something that the wannabe writer doesn’t. They know that writing is not the hard part. Sitting down to write is.”

~ Steven Pressfield, Author of The War of Art

Resistance can’t be seen, touched, or heard. 

But it can be felt within. It is invisible but a force that you can feel. 

It usually manifests as a negative feeling.

This is what it is:

  • resistance is everywhere. You are not unique, resistance is an equal opportunity employer. It doesn’t care who you are. It comes for you to do its job.
  • resistance’s singular job is to oppose you from doing the thing that you are here to do. It’s job is to stop you from doing your work. That thing that only you can pursue. Unique to your soul. If that’s the North Star of your life, resistance’s entire job is to find your south black hole.
  • resistance will take different forms externally but it only comes from within. You will externalize it as “a spouse,” “a job,” “my friends,” “the system.” The real enemy is winning within.
  • resistance can not function on its own. It’s fueled by fear. Your deepest fears that’s what’s powering your resistance.
  • resistance is ruthless. It will seduce you to bed, and give you more money. If you resist too hard, it will pull out an AK-47 on you to make some demands. It will do anything to make a deal. Once that deal is struck, it will turn around and break its word. Resistance is a cold son of a gun.
  • resistance flows in one direction. Against your soul’s calling. You can use this to your advantage when you know the direction it’s pulling you against. *Hint*: Go the other direction.
  • resistance does not die. It’s there to fight a battle with you each and every day. The expert warrior knows that they have to show up and battle everyday.
  • resistance recruit allies. Even when you fight resistance and start waking up to your calling. Others will sabotage. They will say: “you’ve changed.” “You’re acting differently.” What they are not externalizing is that they recognize the awakening but are mad at themselves that they are not doing the same. Resistance is what keeps the crabs in the bucket. Like a hive mind, it has co-conspirators.
  • resistance is strongest at the end. Just when you are about to hit that which you seek, that’s when resistance shows up strongest.

Know resistance for what it is. A blocker to what you really want to do with your life.

2. Resistance hides in plain sight

The last time you were ill. Was it real or was it resistance?

Growing up, I had Eminem’s album Marshall Mathers LP on repeat.

It was the first time I heard about munchausen syndrome. A sickness that is not real but you make everyone around you feel like you’re ill.

I was like no way, why would anyone want to do that. My young self in Lagos thought: “these have to be some american problems”

I later learned that a lot of the symptoms we exhibit on the day to day are those of resistance.

Stopping us from doing the work we are here to do

Resistance manifests itself in different ways.

Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • procrastination: you comfort yourself by saying, it’s not like I’ll never start a business, I’ll just start it tomorrow. You already lost the battle. Resistance has its hooks in you.
  • procrastination as a habit: You procrastinate so long that it becomes a habit. You actually start enjoying procrastination. There is no ‘was’ and “will be,” there is only the now and you have the power to overcome resistance and do what? The work.
  • sex: sex is a great symptom of resistance. It gives immediate gratification and a feeling of importance – I’m loved and can be loved. The reality is that it’s a distraction. Not all sex. You can tell afterwards. If the feeling of hollowness is huge, sex is part of resistance. It is not only sex. It is gossip, news, tv, binging on sugar, fat, salt, and chocolates.
  • trouble: is a cheap way to get fame and attention. It is a way to say “hey look at me” without actually facing what you need to do – your work.
  • illness: A lot of  illnesses are not really ailments, they are cooked up by people. They are a form of resistance. Sometimes they go from one illness to another. They pull everyone into their drama. They threaten loved ones with their illness through silence or passive aggressive gestures. Go deeper, they are dealing with resistance.
  • self-dramatization and victimhood: this is the biggest channel for resistance. “I am a victim that cannot be helped.” Once you accept victimhood, you throw away any cards you have to fight resistance. It becomes more convenient to dramatize and talk about how the world is pitted against you.
  • consumerism: this is the American way (exported to the world). Buy buy buy all your sorrows away. A big industry has been created around resistance. The invisible hand of the market and resistance are co-conspirators. Advertisers know all about resistance, so they sell you pills, products to make you feel better. Vacations that will give you temporary relief. Until you unplug from the grind that consumerism has programmed you through their ads, death scrolling on IG, their soda machines, you will continue to not do your work.

Whenever you find yourself blaming something for not doing your work, ask yourself whether you are pointing at the right thing. There’s a good chance resistance is behind it all.

3. Dancing with resistance

Fear and self-doubt are good indicators of what you really want to do. 

If you are stuck on purpose, ask yourself:

What are you most afraid of?
What causes the most self-doubt in you?

The answers to these questions will start leading you in the right direction. Remember that resistance has one job: to pull you away from what you should be doing.

You can use this to your advantage. You can dance with resistance and move in the opposite direction to do what you are supposed to do.

Fear, criticism, self-doubt all have a negative connotation but they can actually be leveraged. Here are a few of these strong emotions and how they can lead you in the right direction

  • criticism: when people see someone that is awakening. They act strange and they are not even aware of it. They don’t like not living their own unlived life, so they start to criticize. Although resistance is usually internal, the one way it is externalized is in the form of criticism. The awakened one mostly encourages. Criticism is a sign of a battle with resistance. When it comes your way, know that you are fine because you are doing your work.
  • fear: when you are fearful. It is a sign of resistance. This is good, because when you experience fear, you know what you have to do – the work.
  • self-doubt: is a sign that you have aspirations. When you keep asking “can I be an entrepreneur or an artist?” You are filled with doubt and it really means that you are supposed to be an entrepreneur or artist. You now just have to learn to battle the resistance and do the work.
  • love: resistance is directly proportional to love. The more you love something , the more you’d feel an initial resistance to it. The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference. If you don’t feel resistance, perhaps you don’t care about that thing that much. That’s probably not what you love.

Most of us react to these strong emotions with negativity. 

Knowing that this is a form of resistance, you can actually use it to your advantage to move forward with your goals in life.

Final Thoughts

Resistance comes from within.

It is actually your ego.

Your full self wants to expand and connect with the world around it, your ego wants to contract into rigidity of comfort.

The real battle with resistance comes from within and being aware.

It’s all about the journey and there is no predefined destination.

The pro knows that the reward of the work is freedom to do the work. 

Everything else that comes is a by-product of doing the work. 

Keep the main thing the main thing.

Recognize resistance for what it is and keep it moving.

Resistance never goes away.
Learn the dance.

Who is Nifemi?

Hey I’m Nifemi of NapoRepublic

I help busy people fit in a creative practice to bring to bring order to their reality and help them live a more meaningful life through writing and reflection.

Sculpt your story

Know thyself, build a second brain, and unleash your creativity with writing. All in one journaling, note-taking, and dots-connection method that fits into your busy life.