You’re probably familiar with resistance. It reveals itself every time you think about doing something new or something you don’t want to do. It’s that uncomfortable feeling that hits you somewhere in your stomach or your chest.
Successfully handling and releasing resistance is important if you want to get things done! Those that frequently give in to resistance tend to feel that things are difficult to accomplish and may give up more easily than those who can release it or work through the discomfort.
Resistance can strike when you’re thinking about going to the gym, working on a report for work, making a phone call, doing the bills, or mowing the grass. Resistance is a feeling that can easily lead to procrastination if it is not released.
1. Realize that resistance is just a feeling in your body. Of course, resistance has a place in our existence. The brain is constantly scanning situations for things that it considers dangerous on some level, and resistance can indicate valid danger in certain circumstances. However, on a day-to-day basis, you are not typically in harm’s way. If you know that doing the bills is not life-threatening, then acknowledge your resistance as nothing more than an uncomfortable feeling.
You can deal with a little mild discomfort and avoid letting it derail your plans. Think about all of the times you have successfully suffered (and worked) through the discomfort of a common cold. If you have, then working through resistance is a piece of cake. So, take a deep breath and move forward with the task. Getting it done will eliminate the need to procrastinate, ruminate, and avoid (all of which create even more resistance!).
2. Observe it. One of the best ways to lessen the effect of resistance is to look at it objectively, like a scientist or detective. You might think to yourself, “Hmm, isn’t that interesting? I think about going for a run and I get a slight queasy feeling high in my stomach.”
Continue to observe and something interesting will happen. The negative feeling will begin to dissipate. Next, visualize yourself having completed the run – how good it feels and how your body will appreciate the sweat.
3. Avoid AVOIDANCE! The most common reaction to resistance is to find a distraction. Depending on your habits, you might turn on the TV, get on the internet, text a friend, or eat a cookie. This is a huge mistake. Just stay with your discomfort until it subsides. Avoidance just reinforces the pattern of allowing resistance to stop you.
4. Remove any distractions. Turn off the TV, close down Facebook, or step away from the cookie platter! Acknowledge that your attention is being drawn away from the task and take responsibility for your actions. Warning: don’t allow the process of removing distractions to become a distraction in itself. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself determined to clean the entire house when all you really needed to do is put your phone away and clear off the desk. Be real with yourself!
5. Focus on your breath. Concentrating on your breathing will allow you to come back to the present moment and shut down your thinking. You can’t think about how much you don’t want to file your taxes done if you’re paying attention to your breathing. Not only is this a simple technique to help quiet the mind, but it will also relieve the discomfort associated with resistance and reset your body and mind to begin the task at hand.
6. Remind yourself why this task is important. What is the purpose of getting it done? A healthier body? Increased income? An attractive yard that you can enjoy? Have a good reason and you’ll be more motivated. Imagine that the task is complete and FEEL how amazing it feels to cross the task off your list. Phew!
…Now go get it done!
7. Recognize that the first step is the most challenging. A wise friend who is a true task-master introduced me to the “Eat that Frog” philosophy. A simple summary is to do the task that you’re most resisting FIRST…then the rest of the steps feel easy!
8. Do whatever it takes to take that first step. Many of our clients have found great success with the simply setting a timer! Determine how long you are willing to give to the task, set a timer, and work ONLY on that task until the buzzer goes off. You’ll often find yourself surprised by how easy the task was to complete once you got started!
Everyone deals with resistance each and every day. It’s part of the human condition. We naturally avoid those things that are perceived as unpleasant. However, your success is limited by how much you allow resistance to rule your decisions. Use these strategies consistently and you’ll be back in charge of your life.