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Catching Fear in the Act

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

“There are two types of fear: fear of losing something you have, and fear of not getting something you want.” Underneath every bad feeling — anger, envy, regret, defeat, anxiety — is fear at its base, looking to make its way to your brain in any way that it can.

Fear can also be interpreted as resistance, which I learned by reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Most of us are familiar with the term "resistance," but don’t know what it actually is in the fear sense. That’s because resistance disguises itself in forms such as indecision, procrastination, drama, distraction, excuses, and so on. Simply put, resistance is fear acting out in sneaky ways, trying to protect you from losing it all or from ultimate disappointment.

For example, I’ve encountered resistance as always feeling like I was wrong. Whether it was about my own dreams, ideas, or goals, I felt like I was going about life the wrong way and that what I envisioned for myself was unattainable. And when you feel like you’re wrong about what you want out of life, you start living other people’s lives — you start to emulate the things that look “right” on the outside, and essentially your own dreams fall to the wayside. Resistance loves this.

Also, I have been a professional procrastinator for the majority of my life. I’d find every excuse to not write a paper, learn an instrument, get my finances in order… basically, anything that would make life less hectic and get me closer to the life I really wanted for myself. I had no idea that underneath all of that was fear running the show: essentially, fear that I’d fail, or worse, be left alone.

But many of us, thankfully, will get sick of the resistance. We get so tired of our own bullshit that we’re propelled to make a change. We suddenly have this realization that we get only one life, and we really have no time to waste. I got to that place, for sure, and started to dig into what it would actually take to change my life.

The problem is, however, that many of us don’t know how to make the change. How do we stop giving into excuses (sometimes really good ones), procrastination, and ultimately resistance in all of its shady forms?

The key to this is simple – not easy, but simple. In order to separate the chaos of fear from the focus of our goal, we must recognize resistance for what it is, when it happens. Recognize when you’re putting off going for your promotion, or making excuses instead of following your biggest dreams. Recognize when you decide to skip yoga (or your movement preference) for x,y,z reason. Recognize when you fill your schedule with “being busy,” but none of that busyness adds up to what it is you really want.

Listen to the thoughts that pop into your brain when you finally sit down to write the first chapter of your book, or sign up for that self-development course. Odds are, a ton of excuses will flood in. But now you know that it’s just your fear creeping back in, freaking out because you’re doing something it’s not used to. Just say thanks anyway, and stay focused on creating your life.

The point is that your fear – your resistance – will always be along for the ride. It’s not going anywhere. But, you can control how you react to it by being so clear about what you want, you can’t be stopped.

How does resistance come up in your life? Let me know in the comments below!

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