When Resistance Pays You a Compliment
My friend Roda is on the cusp of finishing her second novel. We were having breakfast the other day and she was telling me she was absolutely overwhelmed by Resistance. “I know the dragon gets stronger the closer you are to the finish line … but wow, this is really more than I can handle. I’m stuck. The dark side is winning.”
Here’s what I told Roda:
“If you’re feeling that much Resistance, think of it as a compliment. Resistance is paying you a compliment.”
Remember: the level of Resistance we feel at any point is directly related to the power of our vision and to how important our project is to the evolution of our soul.
In other words, Resistance is telling Roda she is onto something big.
Resistance is terrified that Roda will actually push through and complete her book. It’s terrified because it knows that if Roda does, she will have become a different person, a stronger person, an artist and a professional who is not only really doing her work but who is armed, now, with a vastly increased self-confidence that she can handle anything Resistance throws at her in the future. Resistance senses that it’s at the point of losing. That’s why it’s pulling out all the stops.
I haven’t read Roda’s book. I have no idea what it’s about. But if Resistance is hammering her this hard, particularly at the finish, it’s an infallible sign that Roda is poised on the threshold of something significant—artistically, personally, and professionally.
Three laws are at work here.
1. Resistance always comes second.
What this means is that Resistance has no existence on its own. It arises (like Newton’s Third Law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”) only in response to a creative impulse, to a dream of potentiality, to a vision of something that might be.
Your orphanage in Nepal.
Resistance is the shadow that appears only after your dream arises into the sunlight of your imagination.
2. The force of Resistance (again like Newton’s Third Law) is equal and opposite to the scale of your dream and of its importance to the evolution of your soul.
Tiny dream, tiny Resistance.
Big dream, big Resistance.
3. Resistance is always strongest at the finish line.
Big Resistance near the end = You’re very close!
See what I mean by Resistance paying you a compliment?
The final fact to keep in mind about Resistance as a force of nature (which it is) is that it’s as infallible as gravity or the rising and setting of Arcturus. We can count absolutely on Resistance acting in accordance with its own laws. It has no choice.
Big Resistance = Big Dream.
(In other words, Roda must really be onto something in her book, even if she doesn’t realize it herself.)
Big Resistance at the finish line = we are very close.
(Roda only has to push a little more and she will break through.)
Resistance is infallible = Believe this, baby!
(Our conclusion is not subjective and not wishful thinking. It’s as true as the tides and as certain as the turning of the earth.)
In The War of Art and other books, I’ve characterized Resistance as a dragon or a demon, something fierce and hostile. This is true. But that very fierceness and hostility can act as a beacon or a compass for us. We can make it work in our favor. When we feel the full force of Resistance, we know for certain that we’re headed in the right direction.
And paradoxically, if we take Resistance’s ferocity as the compliment that it truly is, it can infuse us with the fresh resolution and courage we need to overcome it.