The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Yesterday, I danced with fear. Today, whenever I recall what I did yesterday, I say a silent “Thank you” and my gratitude continues to fuel the dance. Sounds crazy, but here is what happened.
At the time, I didn’t know that fear was my dance partner. I thought of it only as resistance. That feeling of facing a wall that blocks your progress. Of knowing the exact steps I need to take but finding and following every excuse in the world for not moving forward. The laundry needed to be finished and the house cleaned. Small errands became priority whenever I thought about the work that waited for me in my office.
I was running away from what I should have been running toward.
The project in question is no small matter. I have just re-branded myself and my website is about to be launched with a “Virtual Dance Party.” All of the pre-launch emails, social media images and graphics, as well as the hourly clues to be posted the day of launch had to be designed and created. And every time I thought about sitting down at my computer to create these items, I met Resistance.
The word is capitalized because I am also reading Steven Pressfield’s book on resistance called, The War of Art. He describes Resistance in its many forms and the parallels to my real life struggles became obvious. I met Resistance in all of its many forms and could finally identify each mutation for what it really was. Fear.
Fear Lies Just Behind the Mask of Resistance
For me, launching my new website is the equivalent of stepping into a new dimension. An unknown world with unexplored pathways and byways. I have listened to the Siren’s call of the creative self, but where was she leading me?
No longer a lawyer, but not yet supporting myself with my creative endeavors, I have been living for several years in the in-between stage. The dipping-my- toe-in-to-check-the-temperature stage. My new website (professionally designed and executed) represents the no-turning-back point in my career as an “author, a transformational-change speaker/trainer, and Story Alchemist with a PhD in Heart Dancing.”
Am I a lawyer pretending to be an inspirational/motivational writer and speaker? Or am I an inspirational/motivational writer and speak who used to be a lawyer?
Two diverse definitions of identity, composed of the same elements, but with diametrically opposed meaning. The “lawyer pretending to be…” has safety and backups built into the very definition. I can always call myself a “lawyer” and know exactly what that label means to myself and the outside world. I played the attorney role for most of my adult life and I understood its nuances, struggles and triumphs. It was a worn, comfortable pair of jeans that I could slip into at any time. My safety net.
The curse of the professional is that you expect the same results, even when you jump ship from a traditional career into something completely and radically different. For me, the dimension of the creative is a profoundly new and barely explored territory. It has its own rules and dictums, its own definition of success and its own way of being discovered. Instead of looking to external sources for education or mentoring, I have to rely on my interior world to guide me. For a linear-thinking, logically trained attorney, that is terrifying.
Terror is another face of fear, which hides itself as Resistance.
Reading The War of Art while meeting Resistance in real life was very enlightening. I found myself making a game of identifying all of the ways Resistance was showing up.
- Endless tirades of doubt
- Shiny object syndrome
My list continues ad infinitum, but you get the picture. Now I know what game is afoot, and I no longer fall for these ploys or diversions.
How to move through Resistance and dance with fear
Yesterday, I followed a simple process that recognized Resistance but allowed me to move forward. Instead of resisting Resistance (which only seems to give it more power), I acknowledged it as having value. Resistance was showing up for a purpose, and I decided to use it to my advantage.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed (my usual pattern when I resist Resistance), I decided to focus on one small task on my “to do” list. Just one simple thing I could finish in less than thirty minutes. Nothing overwhelming or daunting. When I finished it, I celebrated for a moment, refilled my coffee, and sat down again to finish one more task. Before I knew it, my list was checked off and I had beaten Resistance at its own game.
This morning, as I relished my accomplishments from the day before, it hit me. I learned to dance with fear. Step by step, moment by moment, I allowed my creative self to emerge into time and space. Without judgment or doubt; censure or criticism. I listened to the music of my heart and danced.
Please join me in the Heart Dance. Resistance and fear are really signposts, pointing to the boundaries of your comfort zone. And on the other side of that defined space of familiarity…lies freedom. To discover new aspects of yourself that when expressed, bring deeper meaning to your purpose and existence. And hopefully inspires others to follow your lead.
Heart Dancing – it’s the only way to live!