Every day we are given a choice. Every day we start over. Every day we will be challenged by Mr. Resistance, our inner saboteur. We all have one. He is what stands between us, and the person we want to be. He is fueled by fear and full of lies. He will say whatever it takes to stop us. He doesn’t appear to us in his true form; FEAR, because if he did, he knows it would shame us into action. No. He disguises himself as a friend, helping us to avoid failure and making us feel better about not following through on our commitments to ourselves. He is too cunning to appear in his true form. He is present in all of us because we all feel fear. The only difference between the coward and the brave person is that the brave person acts in the face of fear while the coward doesn’t. The only way to defeat Mr. Resistance is to move. He will do everything he can to stop you. He will do everything he can to trap you in your head. Fear becomes a prison with Mr. Resistance as your jailor.
He will be there to give us an endless supply of free passes. He will convince us that our goals and dreams aren’t realistic, and we don’t need to achieve them. We are fine the way things are. He will lessen the pain of our current situation, not because he cares about us, but because he knows that it will prevent us from doing anything about it. Pain is a powerful catalyst for action, and he knows it. That is why he works hard to make us feel better about the status quo. If the pain of change is greater than the pain of remaining the same, we won’t do anything to improve ourselves or our situation.
He will kill our dreams one small lapse of discipline at a time. Success isn’t a single event. It is an accumulation of small daily wins. No one becomes masterful in a day. It takes years of unseen, deliberate practice to achieve mastery. The moment we enter consciousness he will be there; riding our ass, kicking our ass, unless we turn around, and start swinging. Unless we get out of our head and into action, he will quickly convince us that what we had planned the previous day isn’t important. He’ll say, “Go back to bed. You need the extra rest. It’s just one cookie. Staying up late one night won’t matter.”
If we are not ready to do battle with Mr. Resistance he will overwhelm us with excuses. He will rationalize weakness. He will employ procrastination, self-doubt, and distractions to take us off course. We must see these lies and reasons for what they are; resistance. You know, it isn’t usually the doing that is difficult. It is overcoming the resistance to doing that is the most challenging aspect of improving our lives.
We are more than capable of doing what we set out to do. It is resistance that prevents us from sticking to our plan and following our dreams. We are all capable of doing so much more than we ever do. Mr. Resistance is the force that keeps us from achieving our potential. Every day he will be there, telling you that this doesn’t matter and that that doesn’t matter. It all matters because it all adds up to create the habits that form our character.
Everything matters. Everything compounds over time. Every lapse in discipline adds up and makes the weak wolf stronger. When Mr. Resistance whispers in your ear, get angry. Fight back. Conjure strong feelings to strengthen your resolve. Use whatever emotions will cause you to battle the demon within. No one can fight this battle for you. When we decide to raise our standards; he will be there; questioning us and testing our resolve. The longer you hesitate to move, and I mean move physically, to initiate action, the more powerful Mr. Resistance becomes.
The moment we hesitate, a red flag goes up in our mind. Our mind interprets our hesitation to act as a warning. Our brain is hard-wired to keep us safe by avoiding threats. The moment we pull back, our mind will immediately begin to magnify the danger to prevent us from placing ourselves at risk. This cognitive bias, which magnifies our fears and discomfort, is called the spotlight effect. The only way to overcome this mechanism is to move; get out of our head and into motion. Simple, but not easy, especially if you have developed the habit of hesitating.
How do we push ourselves day after day, especially when we have had a bad day? Negative feelings like pain, frustration, and anger can be used as positive change agents. Instead of being crippled by these negative emotions, I suggest we use them to fuel our efforts. Get angry; fight back. Say to yourself, “I am mad as hell, and I am not going to put up with this anymore. I am stronger than my excuses. I am going to do this. I’ll prove all the naysayers wrong. I won’t be stopped.” Mel Robins, Author of The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage says we can beat our habit of procrastination with a simple trick. To interrupt this habit of procrastination, she recommends you count backward from five. The act of counting backward, 5-4-3-2-1, is a deliberate action that requires focus. It interrupts the habit of procrastination. Use it as a countdown to action; 5-4-3-2-1 MOVE! Learn more; The 5 Second Rule – Overcoming the Habit of Procrastination
Friends can offer you advice, but no one can help you win the war with Mr. Resistance. This is one battle you must face alone. No one will be there to push you. No one will be there except Mr. Resistance, and he is there to kick your ass if you don’t kick his first. If you aren’t experiencing fear of failure on a regular basis, chances are, you have already given in to Mr. Resistance. We only get better by pushing our boundaries, which means risking failure.
Mr. Resistance is what stands between us, and a better version of ourselves. Instead of focusing on what we must do each day, we can defeat Mr. Resistance, by seeing ourselves as the person that is capable of doing what needs to be done. It is a subtle shift in mindset, but an important one. Instead of focusing on what needs to be done, focus on being the person that can get it done. Self-identity is powerful and leads to long-term improvement. We don’t always do what we should, but we always live up to our standards. Are standards are closely tied to who we are; our identity. How we see ourselves shapes our behavior and attitudes. See yourself as a professional. A professional doesn’t make excuses or tolerate them. Mr. Resistance doesn’t even bother a professional because like a playground bully he prays on the weak. A professional is dedicated to his work. It isn’t a hobby, it is how he makes his living. Learn more; Harness the Power of Identity.
Starting today, I challenge you with great love and respect to recognize Mr. Resistance for what he is, FEAR disguised as an excuse, procrastination, practicality, and laziness. I want you to challenge him, fight him, and defeat him. Don’t let him prevent you from being the best version of yourself. You can defeat Mr. Resistance. The proof is all the people you admire. They were able to beat their inner saboteur to achieve remarkable success. No one is born great. Every master was once a beginner. We like to think that highly successful people were born remarkable, but if you study their lives, you’ll discover they struggled for years to develop their abilities. They overcame Mr. Resistance and so can you.
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Image of Devil Courtesy of Wellcome Collection Gallery