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Defeating Resistance: Embracing Your Unique Path to Personal and Professional Growth


Have you ever experienced a sudden moment of inspiration to do or create something special? The idea seemingly appears out of nowhere, infusing you with the energy and motivation to take action.


Then it happens. You meet Resistance.


"Most of us have two lives: the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance." - Steven Pressfield



Resistance brings out the worst type of fear. A fear that we paint in our minds with the help of self-doubt brushes and a canvas of anxiety. Imagine that quiet little voice in your head that sings of your mother’s disappointment in your life choices. Now amplify that by 10x. The volume of self-doubt and internal criticism cranked all the way up, putting an end to the wave of inspiration you were gleefully riding.


Resistance feasts off our fear of change. Like droplets of blood falling into a shark-infested ocean, the moment fear presents itself, Resistance seeks to consume whatever life force is generating that fear. It confiscates our minds and blinds our vision (like the opposite of a psychedelic experience). We are unable to see our unique strengths and don’t have the capacity to go looking for them.


The power of Resistance doesn’t weave its’ thorny vines exclusively in the minds of artists or whoever comes to mind when you hear the word “creatives”. We are all artists or creators in some way. Here is a wide range of journeys, straight from Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art, that summon the voracious appetite of Resistance:

  • The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.

  • Any diet or health regimen.

  • Any activity whose aim is to have tighter abdominals.

  • Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.

  • Education of every kind.

  • 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.

  • The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.

  • Any act that entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship.


Career Journey - Not Career Path

Monica Padman, co-host and producer of the wildly successful podcast Armchair Expert alongside Dax Shephard, experienced the sorcery of Resistance while embarking on her dream of a career in Hollywood.


At first glance, you may think referencing the career of a Hollywood actor is not helpful as you try to navigate your own career quest or life changes. After all, how bad can their problems be if they have a giant mansion, private chefs, and a crippling need for love and validation from everyone on the internet? But the commonalities are ever-present. Wrapping our ego around uncontrollable outcomes and others’ opinions gives our power and strength over to the background characters in our own movie, slowly destroying any trace of true self-confidence and personal fulfillment.


The only way to bring self-confidence and fulfillment alive is to design a life that is aligned with your innate strengths, passions, and values. Until you take the time to see the picture clearly, Resistance will win, anxiety will prevail, and self-doubt will move in permanently, claiming squatter's rights over your mind.


When Monica joined UCB, a popular Los Angeles improv comedy school, after college, she never dreamed of being a solo star. The goal was to be part of an ensemble. Growing up obsessed with the sitcom Friends, Monica would give anything to swap her last name for Geller and join the crew. By becoming a successful actor, Monica believed she would reach her goal of landing the ultimate gig -- the one that would put her in that Friends universe where camaraderie and laughter were intertwined with working.


For Padman, the career path she visualized transformed into a winding and unpredictable career journey, beginning when she met Kristen Bell and Dax Shephard. She started off as the couple's babysitter. During those early days, Padman said she had been experiencing immense anxiety and panic about her career's direction. Although she successfully booked some commercials after arriving in L.A., she hadn’t landed any part that would even be viewed as a stepping stone toward her dream of sitcom heaven. This is Resistance at work. Convincing you the direction you are headed is the wrong one, no matter what turn you take.


Padman’s status as babysitter was short-lived, quickly becoming Bell’s right-hand woman, serving as a dueling creative partner and household executive. Padman recalls, “When I worked really closely with Kristen as her assistant, I would get a lot of... validation, verbal affirmation—I really thrived on that…. I was like, ‘I’m a hard worker, and people are telling me so, so I know it’s true.’”


Resistance hates these moments. The scene of a villain (Resistance) watching the hero (you) get stronger. The villain is angry and scared all at the same time. A combination that makes them double down on their reckless intentions. Resistance wants to drain you of any self-confidence you have and strip you of your powers.


Resistance Hates Unique

Whatever genuine curiosities and talents you showed as a child, Resistance seeks to destroy as we move into adulthood. For so many of us, Resistance wins. It forces us into the mold of society and we make fear-based decisions (knowingly or unknowingly) because the idea of not fitting in with the status quo is as terrifying as being chased by a pack of lions.


Perhaps this was in play for Padman. She spoke extensively over the years on the podcast about growing up in Georgia as an Indian girl, always feeling “other”. She wanted a cool group of friends and Resistance convinced her fitting in was the only way. Resistance works to separate us from our unique selves. The more you see it for what it is, the less power it has over you. That begs the question, was Monica’s dream of moving to Hollywood and landing a gig like Friends coming from a true place of self-awareness, or was it a dream that was altered by Resistance, telling her to fit in at all costs?


Finding Bell and Shephard, in addition to some inner work, planted the seeds of what would become the next phase of Monica’s career journey. “I just felt at peace there,” she remembers. The panic attacks abated. Bell and Shepard’s girls loved her. The whole situation had a celestial aura about it, as if the universe were aligning. “I was like, ‘I don’t even understand what’s going on. I want to be around them,’” Padman recalled in an interview with Vanity Fair. “I didn’t want to leave at 4 p.m.”


Padman also credits an investment in her mental health around that time, as she started going to therapy. In many ways, therapy is a practice against Resistance. With the help of an expert, we are able to look back and explore all the ways Resistance has shown itself in our lives and the downstream effects it causes.


To Beat Resistance We Must Understand It

As we learn how Resistance moves and functions, we begin to see it for what it is - a deceitful enemy sent by the evil forces of the earth, with the sole purpose of ridding the world of meaningful work, purpose, and creativity. Therapy and coaching are tools we have to help us reveal Resistance from its' hiding places, as is meditating, journaling, and many other practices.

To see and ultimately defeat resistance we must develop a sense of mindful awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. This level of heightened awareness serves as our night vision goggles, allowing us to spot resistance in the spaces previously only covered in darkness. You slowly notice how resistance feels in the body and the BS it is spewing in your head.


"That voice in our heads is not us. It is Resistance. Those thoughts are not our thoughts. They are Resistance. Resistance is an impartial force of nature, like gravity and the laws of thermodynamics. Resistance is clever. It knows if it personalizes its manifestations, it can deceive us and slip past our defenses. It's like the software that enables direct-mail marketers to send us letter and e-mails addressed, "Dear Susie." It's bullshit. Resistance doesn't know who we are and it doesn't care.”

-Steven Pressfield


This increased awareness we build over time and practice adds winds to our sails along the vast ocean of our career journey. Before awareness, we were directionless, with no compass or map to lead the way. The 10-year-old girl-scout version of you literally can’t right now with your level of carelessness and lack of preparation for this journey. But once you see clearly, the wind just brings you to your destination, showing you beautiful things along the way if you are open to seeing them.


Go Where The Wind Blows

The wind brought Monica Padman to where she is today. Running a podcast empire that she and Shepard are creating with their Armchair Expert umbrella network. The show started as an experiment and extension of Dax and Monica’s personal relationship and playful kitchen debates.

Padman’s current level of success was by no means the goal she had when they started their first podcast together. But her entire journey equipped her with a unique set of knowledge, skills, abilities and experiences that she simply wouldn’t have if she was only acting the entire time. Monica used all that she accumulated along her career journey: improv, acting, babysitting, writing, planning, organizing, creating, and debating.


Adam Grant, best selling author, professor at the Wharton School of Business, and multiple time guest of the Armchair Expert podcast said this of Padman: “What a waste it would have been if she was still toiling at auditions. Why should she be playing some other character?” he says. “She’s such a curious and interesting and insightful person. You want her to play herself. You don’t want her to play a role at all.”


The Job Is Never Finished

We must caution by saying Resistance is never gone or fully defeated. Through our journey, we will build strength and implement habits and systems that allow us to dampen the power of Resistance, but the job is never finished.


"The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day."

- Steven Pressfield


Your duel against Resistance starts by reflecting on some questions.

  • What comes naturally to you?

  • What role do you play in your friend group or family?

  • What is easy for you to do that others have a hard time with, no matter how big or small?

By drilling down into this thought, you begin to see that you are strong in certain areas of your life. Most often, the stress and anxiety in your life are a result of not using these strengths enough, and when you do use them, you aren't processing them with the type of joy, presence, and attention you could if you felt aligned and connected to your strengths.


Tactics To Fight Resistance

Resistance is your classic villain, looking to gain power and destroy whatever potential our inner hero possesses. It preys on our fears, self-doubt, and the allure of fitting in with societal norms. However, by cultivating mindfulness, developing self-awareness, and challenging self-limiting beliefs, we can confront and overcome Resistance.


As we mentioned earlier, there are various professionals, tools, and practices that can help you see Resistance clearly and unleash your inner strength and confidence. Coaching, meditating, and journaling are resources we have to help us reveal Resistance from its hiding places and conquer it once and for all.


Career Coaching:

A professionally trained career or life coach utilizes deep listening, powerful questioning, and actionable insight to help us rise above the tornado of self-doubt and procrastination that comes from Resistance. A good coach carefully listens to what we are saying and mirrors back what they hear. This helps us experience our Resistance in a less personal way. The constant drumming of “I’m not good enough” loses its power and a skilled coach helps you make an action plan to keep it subdued.


Mindful Meditation:

The anecdote to Resistance is awareness. You must be aware of all the thoughts and feelings racing through your mind at any given moment. When we are not in a state of awareness, Resistance wins. Our minds get swirled around with negative internal dialogue that erodes our confidence and positive momentum.


We can build up our awareness through the practice of mindful meditation. When we practice mindfulness, we open ourselves up to what we experience in the here and now. Sitting with our breath, we see our thoughts as just thoughts, allowing them to come and go without sticking. Imagine going on a long road trip and your windshield slowly becomes consumed by thousands of tiny dead flies. One smashed fly is not enough to hinder your vision, but as they pile up and stick, it becomes nearly impossible to see clearly. When thoughts become sticky, they change the way we feel, which changes the way we act, ultimately leading to self-sabotage, procrastination, and no real progress toward our goals.


Journaling:

Where mindfulness allows you to build awareness of your thoughts and emotions, a consistent journaling practice allows you to analyze and unpack these thoughts and feelings. By putting pen to paper, your thoughts, fears, and worries lose their potency, allowing a more objective point of view on your troubles.


Mindfulness and Journaling can serve as a powerful concoction when used together. The more we are mindful of our thoughts and emotions, the more content we have to explore within our journal. Why did I feel this way when this happened? Why did I respond in anger? Why did I feel scared when this happened? Like training a weak muscle this will be hard at first and sometimes feel like an impossible lift, but consistently journaling is one of the most powerful tools we have to reveal Resistance and strip it of its dark powers.


Monica Padman's career journey serves as a testament to the power of resilience and adaptation in the face of Resistance. She embraced new opportunities, explored her diverse talents, and discovered her true strengths, ultimately finding success and fulfillment in unexpected ways. By harnessing the power of our innate strengths, passions, and values, we can create lives that are aligned with our authentic selves, transcending the limitations imposed by Resistance and embracing the limitless possibilities that await us.


So, let us embark on our own journeys, armed with the knowledge that the battle against Resistance is worth fighting every day, as we strive to bring our unique contributions to the world and live our unlived lives to the fullest.


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