Have you ever noticed that when you’re working on creating something new – whether it’s a change you want to make in your life or a project you’re working on – resistance will pop up? For me, it often happens just when I’m getting to the really juicy, exciting part of my creation.
Suddenly I “won’t feel like” working on it, or distractions will grab my attention – the “ooh, look, shiny!” syndrome. Procrastination, over-scheduling, worries, feeling blocked – resistance will try its very best to take me away from my new project or dream.
Why is that?
Our minds tend to work with well-established programming – the routines that make up our daily life, and the habitual patterns that our thoughts take. The known is safe and comfortable.
The unknown is scary. When we step into something new, that’s when the brain digs in its heels and refuses to move forward.
When we first begin to focus on something new, the burst of excitement carries us through the initial resistance. We are inspired and lit up by a brand new idea.
Then, as we go deeper, resistance grows stronger, and tries to overcome our inspiration. This can be the case no matter what you’re creating – a book or painting, the renovation of a room in your home, or a new exercise program or career goal.
Here are some ways to move past the resistance and get on with your new creation.
- Use the resistance as a container. Rather than pushing back forcefully against the resistance, let it provide a safe space for your creative work. Whatever you focus on grows, so turn your attention gently and deliberately back toward your new creation. Resistance is a form of contrast, shining the light on what you don’t want. Use that information to infuse your new creation with the opposite of your fears. Maybe your mind is scared that you’ll spend too much money on your new endeavor, or that you’ll neglect your relationships. Let the resistance inform how you approach your work on this project. Make sure the cost of supplies fits your budget, or make a plan to raise new funds. Set up a date with your partner or a coffee chat with your best friend. Show your worried mind that this new project is safe and rewarding.
- Set a timer. Negotiate with your fearful mind. When you are ready to work on your creation, make an agreement. You’ll set a timer for 45 minutes (or however long works for you) to devote to your creation, and then afterwards you’ll do something else. Let the “something else” be nurturing and familiar, like watching a show, reading a book, or going for a walk on your favorite trail. Reassure your fearful parts that all is well, even with this new project or goal in your life.
- Acknowledge your resistance. In Star Trek, when an officer receives a message from the captain or commander, but they’re busy with an essential task and unable to drop it, they simply say “acknowledged.” The other person then knows that their order has been received and will be dealt with at some point. Even if you’re not able to do anything about it in the moment, acknowledging your fears brings a new level of awareness. When resistance rears its head mid-project, mentally say “acknowledged,” and then get on with the work at hand.
- Make a habit. If your creation is something you can devote regular time to, developing a habit around it will reassure your fearful side that it’s the “new normal.” Set aside specific times each day or week, and then be consistent about using them. After a few weeks of this, resistance will dissipate as your creation becomes part of your regular routine.
- Use your dopamine. The brain loves to complete tasks. Checking something off a list makes you feel productive, and your brain receives a hit of dopamine, a chemical released by your body. It feels good, like a little sparkly reward for your mind. Tap into this by making lists associated with your new creation. If it’s an exercise program, make a tracking chart and check off each workout. If you’re writing a book, have a detailed outline and check off each section you complete. Your resistance will fade as your brain receives the mini-rewards of your accomplishments.
Although our minds sometimes balk at the notion, we human beings are born to create. We are most fulfilled and happy when we’re working on an inspired idea. Even so, it’s completely normal for resistance to arise.
Whenever you begin something new, use these methods to overcome the resistance that arises. You might even be able to train your mind to love jumping feet first into a new project!