Throughout this summer, I’ve tried to help people better understand & develop a relationship with their resistance to their goals. This week, I want to go a little deeper into that evolving relationship by encouraging you to engage in an exercise called “Resistance Tracking.” It’s a simple exercise that can have a powerful impact on those who commit to doing it so here goes:
Why Track Our Resistance?
I’ve talked a lot about resistance before but I think it’s time to move from just talking about it to moving around it. You know you’re experiencing resistance when you want to do something — and you should do something — but you’re not doing it.
If you’re reading this, it’s more likely that you’ve committed to completing a goal, but when you try to accomplish that goal something happens every day preventing you from doing so. Maybe you get a strong urge to check Facebook, talk on the phone or listen to the news. Maybe you suddenly feel a bodily need that you must fulfill before you get started writing (hunger, thirst, gotta pee, etc.). Or maybe you become suddenly distracted by your immediate environment that must be cleaned or organized before you can concentrate on other things. Maybe some unresolved conflict (that has nothing to do with your goals) must be solved before you can focus. Or maybe you find yourself gazing out the nearest window, thinking about the meaning of life and wondering whether you are wasting yours doing stuff that no one really cares about buy you. Each of these examples illustrates the most common forms of resistance: procrastination, avoidance, and denial. And, of course, if you should happen to be experienced in moving beyond these basic forms of resistance, a deeper well of resistance can arise in the form of your inner-critic.
If you experience any of this resistance, good for you – you’re a perfectly normal! Hopefully you’re encouraged to better understand your resistance and explore the fears that lie beneath it, but I want to encourage you to get even more acquainted with how your resistance works to keep you from doing what will have the greatest long-term impact on your success. The purpose of this (slightly painful) exercise is to get clear about your unique individual patterns, to both see and feel your resistance as it manifests, and to begin laying the groundwork for your own personal diagnostic tool.
How To Track Your Resistance
Every day you should make a quick note of whatever comes up to keep you from obtaining your goals. Some of your resistance will take the form of behaviors (clicking on Facebook, checking email, etc.) and some will take the form of thoughts (“This is boring,” “Why do you think you can pull this off?,”, etc.). The goal of this exercise is to capture everything that distracts you from your goals. Please note this will be most effective if you can resist the urge to judge your resistance; all you need to do is view these thoughts and behaviors with compassionate curiosity, record them & then get back to your goals.
You should never feel embarrassed or frustrated because I can see my negative self-talk for exactly what they are: manifestations of my resistance. They are each designed by my bodyguard to keep me from accomplishing my goals so that I can stay safe from sharing my progress, and from the possibility of success or failure. Once I start to see some progress, it becomes perfectly clear that my resistances are simple distractions that I can maneuver around by simply acknowledging the thoughts & writing each one down. Only then can I assess if they are truly worth acting on. And, after a week’s worth of data, I can see the patterns in my resistance: behavioral urges and inner-critic outbursts. I don’t know what your patterns are, but I encourage you to become interested in identifying them this week.
I hope this week brings you the energy to track your resistance, the desire to deepen your relationship with your resistance and the confidence to know that you can move past it no matter how it manifests itself. FINISH THOSE GOALS!