Have you ever struggled with not doing what you know you must do?


One of the books from author Seth Godin which I read a while ago, named Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, dedicates plenty of pages speaking about a phenomenon he calls “The Resistance.” I don’t intend to go into the explanations of why Godin believes it exists, but I do want to define it

The Resistance refers to the force which pushes in the opposite direction when we are attempting to move forward towards something that is good for us (not superficially good, such as comfort or pleasure, but rather something actually good for us in the long run).

For example, if it’s good for our health to begin working out, The Resistance will push us to stay on the couch. However, don’t be fooled into thinking The Resistance will always want to keep us inactive. Sometimes, it will push us to become more active than necessary. For example, if it’s good for us to go to bed early because there’s an important commitment the following day, The Resistance will remind us of the pleasure of staying late watching movies and playing video games.

If you notice, The Resistance loves when things remain just the way they are, or sometimes even turn for the worse. Of course, we are always in a state of change, even if we don’t want to. Many of these changes hurt, may involve sacrifices, and The Resistance knows this. In spite of this, The Resistance wants to trick you into thinking that if you succumb to its forces, you will be free of pain and the uncomfortable feeling of having to change.

This force has many times been spiritualized as devils, demons and other things, but for me it has been much more effective to take full responsibility, and admit that The Resistance is a part of my own being against which I battle day by day. I think this is what the Apostle Paul spoke about in Romans chapter 7, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

The Resistance is powerful, very powerful. It is capable of convincing us that we are not able to change for the better; but if we believe we’re not capable of improving ourselves, we will certainly never find the strength to take the first step towards change. The Resistance even makes us believe that because we haven’t changed in the past, that we won’t be able to do it now or ever. Of course, this is only an illusion.

Here’s the good news: The Resistance can be defeated.

How exactly do we defeat it? Here are some tips that have helped me:

1- Start by recognizing it exists.

I don’t mean to imply that it exists as an independent being, but as something very real that can be experimented with certain frequency. The key is to recognize that The Resistance, even though it’s a part of us, is not an essential part of us. In other words, we can get to the point in which we consider The Resistance as something separate from our essential self (even though, as I said, I don’t believe it is actually separate).

For example, if I wake up early to work out, The Resistance can creep up and try to convince me to stay asleep a bit longer. At that moment, I must recognize that the one that wants to stay in bed is not really me, as I essentially want to fulfill my physical goals. I want to be healthy, that is what Ireally desire. In this manner, I’m identifying the differing purposes between The Resistance and I.

2 – Do exactly the opposite of what The Resistance wants you to do.

Going along with the previous example, if The Resistance wants me to stay in bed, my best plan of attack against it is to stand up from my bed. Sometimes The Resistance doesn’t want to give up easily, so even if I stood up, it will want me to fool around and waste time with something. At that point, one needs to focus, apply the first point, identify The Resistance’s new gameplan, and once again do exactly the opposite of what it wants one to do.

3 – Do exactly the opposite again and again, until it becomes a habit.

If we manage to disobey The Resistance enough times, to a point in which we violate its desires almost instinctively, The Resistance will get tired of fighting and it will eventually lay down to sleep. It can wake up and once again attack other areas of our lives, in which case we should go back to the first point, but in the new scenario.

Are these ideas helpful to you? Do you have any other suggestions?

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