If you’re like me, you may have had your life and your fitness and your weight.. let’s say “fluctuate” .. over the past few years.
(Can we all just stop and admire for a moment how weird the word “fluctuate” looks? Weird. Anywhoo.)
Two years ago I was undoubtedly in the best shape of my life. I was strong, I weighed 23 lbs less than I do now and felt so good. Like, SO good. I look back on the past 24 months and I know exactly what happened: Knee injury, deciding to move, stress, food, drinks, more stress, life in flux, moving across the country in a crazy RV adventure, more food and drinks, more stress.
We all have stuff. And we can look back and see exactly where we went off course. That’s the magic of hindsight. We can pine over what was, or the cascade of decisions or inaction that followed, but you and I, we have choices to make in the present.
The present is the only thing that matters and the source of our own power.
So, in the present, I have this weird thing I’ve noticed where my head says I should do something and I just don’t do it. I’m sure it’s not that weird. It’s probably very common, especially for folks like you and I.
It’s the ego vs the self or the self vs Resistance. I’m not going to get all metaphysical with you, but I believe we have a divided mind between Ego and Self, and the Ego is a fear-based entity that thrives on some ancestral caveman shit that we haven’t evolved out of yet. The Self wants to manifest it’s highest form in action and the ego paralyzes the body with Resistance, and inaction.
Resistance is the force (I believe everything is energy, you can call this whatever you want) that is the antithesis of inspiration.
Resistance is everything negative and it’s sole reason for existence is to stop you from making progress with whatever you want to do or create – from a painting to a bike tour.
It is the comments you fear someone might make to you. It is the far-fetched terror of the imagination. It is the mean and nasty things you say to yourself, inside of your own head, until you’re beaten down enough to submit to inaction and then despair.
If you believe in God and that sort of thing, then Resistance is the devil.
It’s not the same for everyone. I’m sure some people have egos that drive them to action. They probably haven’t read this far into the post. It’s about conditioning – what you have been used to over the years. If you – like me – have been exposed to a disproportionate amount of negativity, and you’ve internalized that to be who you are, then the framework of the conversation about going to the gym or getting out on the bike might go like this:
Self: Hey, let’s do something!
Resistance: You’re not going to do that.
Self: But we really should, it’s good for us, it makes us feel better, it might even be fun.
Self: I think we should, I mean it’s a beautiful day!
Resistance: Eh. Maybe later.
And that’s it. Shut down. We move on to passive entertainment, distractions and classic time wasting.
Now, there are a thousand variations on this conversation, and the most insidious part is that the Ego steps in and debates the Self on behalf of Resistance, using “I” phrases in our own heads, such as:
- “I don’t want to get sweaty, I don’t have enough time to take a shower and get ready for XYZ later”
- “I look stupid, everyone is going to think I look like a stupid poser”
- “I’m so out of shape – I have to get in better shape before I go to the gym”
- “It’s too hard”
You name it. You know exactly what I mean.
So here’s the thing – and I suffer from this from years and years of residual bullshit – you have to unify your mind, become a machine and accept being a beginner to slay Resistance and get out of your own way.
1) Unify the Mind
“On the battlefield of the self, there stands a knight and a dragon. You are the knight, and Resistance is the dragon.” – Steven Pressfield. So slay the beast.
You need to make a decision. What do you want? What do you want out of life? What’s your point? If you were on your deathbed and look back on your life, would you say, “Gee, I really wish I used that beautiful weekend to binge watch House of Cards on Netflix” or “Gee, I really wish I used that beautiful weekend to do that bike ride or that hike and got to see the sunrise/sunset over the ocean from my campsite.”
It’s easy to be passive and let the TV or the computer live for you – believe me, I know all about it. But you have to let the Self dominate that internal conversation with Resistance. Resistance is the worst, because it is a phantom – an apparition that debates you on how you should live your own life because it has no body of it’s own to inhabit with all that depressive, ugly energy – so instead it tries to feed on yours. Eckhart Tolle calls it the pain body. Call it whatever you like, but it is real, it is crippling and you have to bask in the glowing desire of your self-actualization and let your Self talk louder than Resistance can and get moving to leave it behind.
2) Become a Machine
What you have to do after you unify the mind, is develop discipline. I loathe the word discipline. It makes me thing of being grounded as a kid and screaming drill sergeants on TV. But it is the thing I lack the most and it is absolutely essential to get up this mountain.
Sometimes I watch Elliot Hulse videos on the YouTube. He’s a thick-necked dude – a charismatic strongman who believes that motivation will get you started but discipline will get things done.
Watch these three videos in this order: 1, 2, 3. You might want earbuds if there are kids around. Seriously – he’s mouthy, says the F-word and talks about having balls. (If that ruffles you, think of ’em as Lady Balls – Stephen Colbert called them Thatchers.)
He’s not for everyone, but sometimes I need a little dose of Elliot’s no-holds-barred ass-kicking style to light my fire. Like this video on quitting.
And then decide that you are going to actually DO what the Self wants, no exceptions. Becareful, sometimes the Resistance can skillfully masquerade as the Self – it always has to pass the “Netflix or Sunset” deathbed smell test.
3) Accept Beginnerism
Once you have taken the previous step to DO the thing, you have to accept that there will be more head chatter to deal with. This is almost the hardest of all three, because it’s Resistance trying to piss on your parade at your most vulnerable – and it’s especially hard if we had accomplished something before but have fallen out of practice.
For example: I can’t do pushups. I went to my first group fitness class in quite a while (I am still sore!) and one of the circuits was to do pushups with one hand on a medicine ball. I could not do a single actual pushup. Not one. Two years ago, I could do 10 real pushups. Now? Zilch, zero, nada, nothing. Ooooh-wee! My head was just chattering away with self-effacing comments that I won’t even give the energy of putting into digital ink here. But what I did to move past that, and not allow the chatter to get inside and get me down, was just accept that I was again a beginner. Accept it. Don’t use it as a weapon to degrade myself, just accept it. This is where I am.
The other equally important aspect to this is to have what they Zen folks call a Beginners Mind – meaning, that you might not know things intellectually – like proper form when doing a squat, like how to utilize gears on a bike. We have to let go of the discomfort of not knowing. We have to accept that there are this and then take steps to learn about them – listen to the trainer, watch what other people are doing, learn about it on the Interwebs – and be okay with the fact that you don’t know. Yet.
You start where you are. There’s no other way to do it.
Even the idea that you can do anything but start where you are is allowing Resistance to walk into your front door and put it’s muddy boots up on your dining room table. Unacceptable. You wouldn’t let it happen in your home, and you shouldn’t let it happen in your head or your heart either.
Here is your call to action – choose one, or both:
1) Leave a comment below and tell me how you witness Resistance manifest in your own life? Or if it’s too personal, shoot me an email. Either way, let’s start a conversation.
2) Share this with one person. Just one person who you think needs to know how to slay Resistance and get out of their own way.