“What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?” This is from the book I am now reading by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art.
Steven says, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
Resistance is a negative force whose intent is to push the creator aside. It arises as the invisible enemy from with in and will tell us anything to keep us from our work, our dreams, and our true selves.
I received a thank you letter recently that speaks to the subtlety of that resistance in our lives: “After spending many years at home caring for my family my confidence in returning to work, even part-time, was low. What helped me enormously was taking art classes. It may seem like a simple thing to call Colleen Sgroi’s Gallery and just sign up, but for me this was a very difficult decision. I actually worried that wanting to spend two hours a week painting was a selfish indulgence! I also suspected it was what I needed. No job coach, career mentor or job placement agency was going to help me feel valuable as a person and I knew that prospective employers would sense my insecurity. I brought a lot of self-doubt and anxiety with me to that first painting and drawing class. When I left two hours later, I felt justified that I had made the right decision and not a selfish one. I realized immediately that taking these classes made me a happier, healthier person, and that in turn creates a positive effect on others around me. Therefore, I began a renewed sense of value and confidence. I understand why people say art is good for the soul!”
Do you hear the voice or reason telling her that doing something for herself is a selfish indulgence? That is resistance. Have you ever notice that the very thing that we “need” to do is the place were resistance shows up?
Steven calls them Resistance Greatest Hits:
1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
2) The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
3) Any diet or health regimen.
4) Any program of spiritual advancement.
5) Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.
6) Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.
7) Education of every kind.
8) Any act of political, moral or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.
9) The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.
10) Any act which entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship.
11) The taking of any principled stand in the face of potential reprisal.
In other words, any act which disdains short-term gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any act of these types will elicit Resistance.
I know that when I go into the studio I fall pray to resistance by doing everything else but paint. I have to check my email and of course, I must post things on face book. Then, I start cleaning and oh, I must reorganize the art supplies. The list goes on and I can feel myself resisting the very thing that I love and feeds my soul….painting. And so I sit down and I begin to paint. Just the act of sitting in front of the canvas and picking up my brush invites my creator to take over and before I know it hours have gone by and what was once a blank canvas is now alive with color and life.
In conclusion, I would like to take a famous slogan and make it the lesson for today.
Just Do It!