What Are You Resisting?
Why do we resist things we know would be good for us?
We all have things that we know we want to be doing – or want to have done and behind us – but that we just don't prioritize.
This is true at work, and in the rest of our lives: decluttering, doing a big task, exercising, saying no, etc.
We know we would feel hugely better if we just did it. But then we don't.
Instead we distract ourselves with other things (responding to email, social media, “important” tasks, taking care of other people's needs), or we sit on the couch, or in front of the computer, feeling icky and wishing we were accomplishing something.
As the coaching group participant who raised this question said, it’s a puzzle. Why would we choose not to do this thing we know would give us something we really want?
For me, this struggle has been very alive recently, as I tried to get myself to spend more time writing. Every Sunday I'd look at the coming week and say to myself “Look, there is plenty of time for writing — great!” and by the end of the week, I'd look back frustrated.
There were always reasons. But I know myself well enough to know that I'm good at fitting in the things I think are really important.
So, why no room for writing?
I spent several months asking myself this question — or, as I was framing it, “Why am I resisting writing?” — before I looked at it in an email I was sending and said “Ah look, it's a ‘Why' question.”
“Why” questions have a tendency to move us into resistance rather than out of it. So, I immediately tried reframing it as a “What” question. Here's what emerged:
What am I resisting when I choose to do things other than writing?
I am resisting prioritizing what I want — I LIKE writing — over things I think are "important," or other people's desires/needs.
I am resisting sinking into writing when I know I will be interrupted over and over again.
I am resisting the discomfort and uncertainty that comes with putting my ideas on paper and sharing them.
Well. That's pretty clear.
Each of these answers can lead to more What questions, like:
What is uncomfortable about being visible in this way?
What is hard about being interrupted? And, then, What would make it easier?
What makes those other things "Important" and are they really more important than writing?
I could have followed each of those lines of curiosity until I got to the bottom of what was in my way. But in this case, I didn't need to.
As soon as I wrote those answers down, I felt the energy shift.
I could feel myself re-centering, remembering that:
I LIKE to write
There will always be a huge list of other things to do, and…
I am the only person who can write this content. It has value.
I found myself with a new commitment to put time on the calendar for writing.
And it's working.
This post is an example of what happens when I carve out time to write and share.
So, what are you resisting?
Try it out.
Start by naming something you actually WANT to do (really, not just something you think you should want to do) that you habitually avoid/resist doing.
Notice what happens in your body when you think about doing it. Breathe. Take time to be with the resistance, to notice what it feels like in your body. Where does it sit? What are the sensations?
Breathe. Just let the resistance be there. Don't try to push it away, or judge it. Just notice it.
Now ask yourself: What am I resisting?
Write down everything that occurs to you in response to the question, without editing.
When you run out of answers, ask yourself “What else?” Keep going until you really run out of answers.
Now look at the list. Get curious. What do you see?
Pick one of the answers — one that draws your attention — and follow a “what thread;” asking yourself more What questions (what's hard about this? what do I get from resisting this? and whatever other What questions occur to you), and see what you discover.
Try it again with others of your answers if you need to.
Once you have more clarity about what you are resisting, you may discover that you can just move through the resistance and take the risks you want to take.
If you still feel stuck, try asking “what would make it fun?” or “what would make it easy?” to do the thing you want to be doing.
Questions? Ask in the comments and I’ll respond.
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