Most of us have two lives, the live we live and the unlived life within us. Between us stands Resistance. The only way to life the unlived life is to overcome Resistance. Steven Pressfield wrote about it in his book: “The War Of Art”.
Overcome Resistance with The War of Art
“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is resistance.” (Steven Pressfield)
Ever started a diet but quit it a few days later? Have you ever quit a course? Are you a singer who doesn’t sing? A writer who doesn’t write? An entrepreneur who never starts a business? Then you know what resistance is.
To overcome Resistance, you have to define what Resistance is, combat it and going far beyond it. Steven Pressfield writes about those three elements in his book. I will share the three lessons you can learn from “The War of Art”.
Lesson 1 – Defining the Enemy: Resistance
The first step before you can overcome Resistance is to understand what Resistance actually is. Most people think that they are the only ones struggling with Resistance. They are wrong. Everyone struggles with Resistance.
Resistance is the invisible force that holds you back. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. Resistance is a repelling force. It is negative.
Resistance feels like hell. It can make you feel unhappy and you cannot get any satisfaction out of it. It makes you feel guilty. It makes you feel weak.
The most common manifestation of Resistance is procrastination. This is because it is the easiest one to apply. We do not tell ourselves “I am not going to do my homework today.” Instead we say “I am going to do my homework; I am just going to start tomorrow.”
So, what is Resistance? Resistance is the enemy to every (creative) process. It is hesitation. It is procrastination. It is fear.
Now that we have defined Resistance, it is time to overcome Resistance by turning pro.
Lesson 2 – Combating Resistance: Turning Pro
To overcome Resistance, you have to combat it. Aspiring artists defeated by Resistance share one trait. They all think like amateurs. They have not yet turned pro.
Steven Pressfield talks about the differences between the amateur and the pro. When he talks about turning pro he does talk about the word professional. Professional as an ideal. The professional in contrast to the amateur.
“The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps.
To the amateur, the game is his avocation. To the professional it is his vocation.
The amateur plays part-time, the professional plays full-time.
The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week.” (Steven Pressfield)
You can only turn pro when you combat Resistance.
Do this by using this Principle of Priority, which states that (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what is important first.
You can already guess what is important: the work. That is the game you need to play and suit up for. Day in day out. You have to overcome the Resistance that holds you back from doing the work. How? By just doing the work.
The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear before he can do the work. The professional knows that fear can never be fully overcome. There will always be fear. That form of Resistance will always be there. You need to know that there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist. However, the best warriors and artists are those who execute, even when they feel fear.
Steven Pressfield defines the professional by the following qualities:
- We show up every day.
- We show up no matter what.
- We stay on the job all day.
- We are committed over the long haul.
- The stakes for us are high and real.
- We accept remuneration for our labor.
- We do not overidentify with our jobs.
- We master the technique of our jobs.
- We have a sense of humor about our jobs.
- We receive praise or blame in the real world.
Acknowledge the Resistance and combat it by just doing the work. Overcome Resistance. Turn pro.
Lesson 3 – Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm
Now that we have defined Resistance and talked about ways to overcome Resistance, it is time to talk about going beyond Resistance.
In the previous two lessons you could learn from ‘The War of Art’, there was a focus on one thing: becoming a professional. Why? Because the most important thing about your art is to work. Nothing else matters except you sitting down and doing the work. You overcome Resistance and pay your dues. Every day.
When we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something funny starts to happen. A process is set into motion. A process that sets unseen forces into action.
When we keep sitting down and putting in the work, we become like magnets. We attract more ideas, more insights and get in a state of flow more often. When you overcome Resistance like a pro, day in and day out, it will skyrocket your creative process. So, go beyond Resistance. Become a magnet.
The War of Art
After sharing the three main lessons to learn from ‘The War of Art’, you hopefully got some more insight on how to overcome Resistance. However, the book is filled with powerful strategies, anecdotes and metaphors. I would highly recommend you buy the book and read it yourself. It is one of the best books when it comes to overcoming Resistance and creating your unlived life that is currently held back by Resistance.
If you want to overcome Resistance you can also read my article about developing self-discipline. It would be a nice follow-up to the article you just read.