By Steven Pressfield | Published: February 15, 2017
This is the fourth post in our series called “The Professional Mindset.” Let’s pause here and flash back to what this stuff is all about.
It’s about Resistance.
We adopt the Professional Mindset for one reason only: to combat our own internal self-sabotage.
The professional mindset is a weapon against Resistance, like AA is a weapon against alcoholism.
Don’t laugh. The analogy is exact.
Have you, the writer, ever woken up metaphorically face-down in the gutter at five in the morning with an empty bottle beside you?
Have you ever said to yourself, “I am powerless against this force that is destroying me from inside?”
Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to turn my life around, starting right here and right now.”
Some people might call that moment “hitting bottom.”
I call it “turning pro.”
I call it switching to the Professional Mindset.
In Twelve Step programs the first action you take is to admit you are beaten. You acknowledge that a certain internally-generated negative force has power over you. It has defeated you over and over in the past, and it’s going to destroy you completely if you can’t get a handle somehow on facing it and containing it.
As writers and artists, we wake up with that negative force every morning.
It never goes away.
It never gets any easier.
We are exactly like recovering alcoholics.
Our booze is Resistance.
It tempts us every day, every hour. It’s seductive, it’s diabolical, it’s indefatigable.
In Twelve Step programs, the individual’s mantra is “One Day at a Time.”
That’s my mantra too.
I don’t go to meetings like individuals in AA or Al-Anon or other Twelve Step programs.
These blog posts are my meetings.
I reinforce myself with them. I screw up my courage by sharing my losses and victories on the page, on the web.
The principles involved are the same.
Acceptance of vulnerability.
Resolve to prevail.
The Professional Mindset, in whatever form you or I adopt it, is the most powerful weapon I’ve ever heard of in the battle against Resistance and self-sabotage.
We spoke last week (the post was titled “You, Inc.”) about thinking of ourselves not as individuals but as enterprises. That’s a mind trick. It’s a head game. But it works, just like Twelve Step programs work.
To think of ourselves as professionals (as opposed to amateurs) eliminates self-judgment and self-condemnation, both of which are weapons that our own Resistance uses against us.
There’s nothing wrong with you if you wake up every morning with that dragon in your head.
Sappho woke up that way.
Dostoevsky woke up that way.
Shakespeare woke up that way.
They all experienced a moment when they said to themselves, “I accept this as my internal reality. From this day forward, I will organize my inner resources not to yield to this negative force but to face it and overcome it.”
Repeat after me:
“My name is ____________ and I have been defeated by Resistance.”
Now we can begin.