How do I get out of this?

I just read the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. What a perfect book. He writes about Resistance, something at which I consider myself an expert. Hand me a great topic to write about that would move me forward, and watch me run outside to rake leaves or vacuum the car.

But it’s been my desire to work on the issue, and this year, life doled out a few experiences to do just that… and the book got me thinking about what it all means.

Here are a few moments from my resistance highlight reel:

Resisting jumping into the jungle. In January, I went to Mexico with my good friend Joanne and her daughter, Manami. Joanne was in the final stages of cancer (I was really resisting that) and this trip would be her last.

Manami and I went zip-lining one day. We hiked a few miles, then from high on a rickety platform, we peered down into an endless and dense jungle.

Monkey-mind starts Ziplineworking: This is so high and so rickety. I am so going to plunge right into that jungle. There’s no way in freaking hell I’m going to be able to do this. This was a huge mistake. How do I get out of this?

Mind you, I was standing in gloves and helmet, tied to the cable, with a line of people raring to go behind me. I wanted only to sit for an hour, getting ready to get ready, but could only resist so long. I closed my eyes and jumped. Gravity took care of the rest. It was really fun and so free. And every successive (12 of them) jump was fine.

Resisting writing a eulogy, part 1. Joanne asked me to speak at her funeral. I really wanted to show her what I was going to say before she died, but it wasn’t finished. OK, it wasn’t even started—I was totally resisting writing it. The memorial service got closer and closer and I knew the story I wanted to share, but something was missing. I wrote in the car on the way to California. Not it. Not yet.

JoOn the morning of the service, I still didn’t have it done, and went walking by the ocean in San Rafael. I found a trail she’d once shown me.

Oh, hello, monkey mind: What the hell am I doing going for a hike? There are going to be a TON of people there. This has to be something she would love. Help me, help me, help me. OMG, I am so not the person to do this at all. This was such a mistake. How do I get out of this?

I kept walking into the mounting panic. Then a poem I read when I was in my 20s dropped into my head. I got back to the hotel and Googled it. It was the perfect missing piece. I put it in.

Before I got up to speak at the service, my heart was pounding so hard the friend sitting next to me said he could hear it. Then when I was up there, Jo smiled down from her big picture on the screen behind me. It all went just fine and felt so good to talk about our long friendship. And I think she would have gotten a kick out of it.

Resisting writing a eulogy, part 2. Two weeks after Jo’s service, my dad died unexpectedly. We had a complex relationship and part of me had already been PRE-resisting giving his eulogy for years.Dad

Though writing the obituary (thank you, newspaper deadline) and sharing stories about him was a good warm-up, on the morning of the funeral I still didn’t have a clue what I was going to say.

Cue ol’ monkey mind chorus: There must be some mistake. Who am I to do this? How do I get out of this? Blah-dee-blah–dee-blah.

Then, in the shower, the whole thing just dropped into my weary brain. Four qualities, four stories about him that showed the gruffness that covered his generous and tender heart. Complete.

And again, heart pounding, I stood up there with my prompt words written on an index card—and it was fine. I think he might have liked it, too.

In all this, here’s what I learned…

Resistance to speaking the truth, taking the next step, starting the new project, etc. is very real. But that Big Moment is also real—the urgency that so many people I talk to seem to be feeling right now. A time of no turning back. The moment when your little zip-line trolley leaves the platform, when the audience’s eyes all lock on you… and there is no stopping. My mentor Heidi calls this “crossing the border” and I think that’s a perfect description.

It goes something like this:

  1. You get the inspiration to create something, share your story, launch that project or just go beyond a previous limit.
  2. Welcome to the border. Resistance steps in. Monkey-mind refrain begins: OMG, how do I get out of this? Get me out of this. This was such an enormous mistake.
  3. The Big Moment. Gravity/stepping on stage/pushing “send.” Whoa, whoa, whoa. It’s happening!
  4. Ahhhhh, ok. It’s fine, I am safe, and this actually feels really good.

Now, I wish I could say that everything has changed since this summer. That resistance is gone and I’m just living in the flow. But that would be a lie. For instance, it’s taken me a solid week of procrastinating to write this article.

Here’s another passage from The War of Art:

Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you’re feeling massive Resistance, there’s tremendous love there too. If you didn’t love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn’t feel anything.

The more Resistance you experience, the more important your un-manifested art/project/enterprise is to you—and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.

Today, shards of resistance glitter all around me. The internet connection is funky. I am second-guessing writing about Joanne and Dad. The newsletter program keeps giving me an error message. I have a ton of client work to do. It’s the last sunny Sunday before the rains and I would much rather hike. There is so much that feels MORE urgent. 

But I know that writing this is part of a bigger dream that I love… even more than hiking. And I know it will be fine once I just press “Send.”


Feeling resistance about telling your story?


Just click here to watch a quick video, 5 Ways to Getting To Your Story that will help you move beyond it. This snippet is from an interview I did on the Paycheck to Passion Podcast (which you should definitely subscribe to.)