Whatever you resist persists.
Resistance is a roadblock. It's seen as a personal struggle between want and do. It's the bad word we use to describe what’s stopping us from doing, well anything.
What we don’t view resistance as, however, is a direction. Much like success, resistance is a feeling that’s telling you your life’s headed the right way. “Resistance points true North,” Steven Pressfield reminds us in his book, The War of Art.
Why is this true? Why does resistance point to success? Well, it’s pointing to places not many people have been before. It’s true because doing the right thing is more beneficial than doing the easy thing. But in order to overcome resistance and succeed, we can’t just run toward resistance. We have to harness it as a two part strategy:
1. Reveal what you would rather conceal
Remember that whatever you resist persists. How many of us bury negative emotions and past failures deep down in the pit of our psyche? Me, most definitely. It doesn’t take a neuroscientist or philosopher to know that burying these things has an adverse effect on our mental health and outlook. But it’s seen as a weakness to wear negative emotions and failures on our sleeve.
Be a rock, and fill that pit with gravel, society says.
When whatever you resist persists, however, and you resist being open about these types of things, the adverse effect it has on your mentality will persist. The only way to alleviate any adverse emotion, experience, or failure, is to move toward the resistance and be open about them. Be your own therapist, and reveal your failures as much as your successes.
When you do this, not only do you improve your mental health and outlook, but you immediately become more human. Being relatable is much more valuable than being a deity. Rather than trying to be perfect and have everyone revere you for your perfection, overcome your resistance and reveal what you would rather conceal.
Be seen as a success story other people can emulate. Everyone has failures and negative emotions, overcoming the resistance and being open about yours will only make people respect you more.
2. Conceal what you would rather reveal
I know, I know, isn’t this a little counter intuitive? Didn’t we just preach the importance of being open and honest? Well, If whatever you resist persists, conversely, whatever you don’t resist doesn’t persist
When we have a goal, for example, often times talking about it gives us enough satisfaction that we actually don’t move toward attaining it. In our mind’s eye, telling others about our goal gives us enough pleasure that it relaxes our tenacious drive to succeed.
As much as I hate to admit it, I can look at almost any point in my life and see that this is true. Even with a focus on self improvement, there is a part of me that inherently wants to impress people. When I talk about my future business ideas and life goals, I get a perverse sense of satisfaction that the person I’m talking to views me as a go-getter. A successful person.
Why actually achieve something when I can impress people with everything on my life's to-do list, right? Unfortunately, talk is cheap. It fills our emotional bank account with inflated currency to the point where we don’t have room for anything substantial.
But, when we conceal what we would rather reveal - conceal our future goals - we persist our internal desire to achieve them.
Rather than getting satisfaction by impressing people over dinner conversation, we get satisfaction by actually attaining our goal. Our emotional bank account is then filled with tangible achievements that are worth much more in the currency of life-fulfillment.
Whatever you resist persists. Resist talking about your goal, so the only way you can gain satisfaction from it is when you see yourself actually achieve it.
Reveal what you would rather conceal and conceal what you would rather reveal. You won’t conquer resistance - it will follow you throughout your life - but by understanding that whatever you resist persists, you can use resistance to push you in the direction of success.
Or I should say, resistance will lead you in the direction of success. Follow it.