By Steven Pressfield | Published: March 19, 2014
There are concepts that are so obvious that it’s almost impossible for us to grasp them. This is one of them.
What I mean by “so obvious” is, someone says something to us and we think, “Of course. Sure. I know that.”
Then the concept blows right past us. It’s out the window and gone, and we’re no better off than we were before we heard it.
Here’s the concept (focus hard):
Resistance is not us.
That voice we hear in our head? That’s not us.
Those thoughts we think are our own? They’re not our thoughts.
“You stink, you’re worthless, you’re a loser.” That’s not our voice.
“Your idea is great but you’ll never pull it off.” That’s not us saying that.
“Let’s hit the beach and blow this day off!” That’s not us either.
I’m wrestling with a major siege of Resistance right now in my own life. It’s too private to talk about in specifics. (It’s not about writing.) But that voice is hammering me big-time right now.
Fortunately I have dueled that voice for years and I know most of its tricks.
The big thing I know is:
THAT VOICE IS NOT ME.
P.S. Another post that’s on this exact subject is Resistance and Self-Loathing from a couple of months ago.
P.P.S. I touched on this on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday, also a few months ago.
The best analogy to “Resistance is not us” is a phenomenon that we’ve all experienced in meditation.
We sit. We still our breathing. We focus inward.
Suddenly a whole 3-D freak show begins appearing on the movie screen of our minds. It’s like logging onto the web. We ricochet from mindless distraction to inane diversion. Kittens. Porn. The stock market. Then come the self-defeating thoughts. “My knees are killing me. Why did I come to this stupid dojo in the first place? What time is it?”
If we have a meditation teacher, she has prepared us for this. “Pay no attention to those thoughts. They are not you. Let them enter one side of your mind, pass through and out the other. Remain in stillness. Those ‘thoughts’ will subside. In a few minutes, your mind will grow calm.”
She is describing Resistance.
If we can truly grasp the concept that Resistance is not us, it takes all the judgment out of the endeavor to do our work.
We are not being judged and found wanting by that voice, because that voice is not us.
It’s an objective, universal, impersonal force of nature.
It’s not you and it’s not me. We did not sit down and assess ourselves and our potential impartially and objectively, then conclude:
“You know what? I am a loser. I have nothing going for me. I’m unworthy of breathing oxygen on the planet—and I’m certainly unworthy of trying to write a symphony, complete my Ph.D., start a business, open my mouth and express an opinion.”
Nor are we the subtler, more devious voice of Resistance that tells us
“You are a beautiful, brilliant, supremely gifted individual who is capable of just about anything. But this one particular project/aspiration/aim that you’re engaged in now? Maybe not that one. Anything else, okay. But not this one. Not yet anyway.”
If you believe what I’m saying, you will get up off the psychoanalytic couch. The cure will not be found, you will agree, in tracing our “crippling self-image” back to its origins in childhood, in abuse, neglect, etc., however factual and true such recollections might be.
Resistance is more diabolical than that.
Resistance is recruiting that abuse, that neglect, that whatever. It is enlisting it in its cause: to stop us from doing our work. Even if there had been no abuse, no neglect … if we had been raised on moonbeams and honeydew in the land beyond the rainbow, that same voice of Resistance would appear in our heads.
We must dismiss it.
It is not us.
It is not worthy of our attention.
Thanks, Voice. Nice of you to drop by. You’ve got some great material today, even some fresh material. It’s smart. It’s extremely convincing.
But we’re not buying.
We see you.
We see that you are not us. Your voice is not our voice.
We see you and we see through you.
So long. Sayonara. See you around.