- I want to exercise more. I really do. But, I’m too busy.
- I’d like to work with a coach, but they’re too expensive.
- I want to leave my job and launch my own business, but what makes me think I could succeed?
We want to change. But something stops us. Financial concerns, time pressures, and lack of knowledge or skills – these often are the barriers we point to. They’re realities we all contend with. Yet, when we’re ready and have decided something is critical to us, we find ways to move forward in spite of these barriers. So are they truly obstacles, or do this “realities” reflect something else, something that we can’t always see or name? Maybe what lies beneath these thoughts is Resistance. Or gremlins. Or our inner critic. It’s a force that arises when we want to do something heartfelt, something that perhaps makes us vulnerable, something that involves change. The higher the stakes, the stronger the force that works to hold us in place.
Stephen Pressfield calls it Resistance, the inner enemy that leaps into action when we want to something that involves our long term growth, health or integrity. Rick Carlson uses the metaphor of a gremlin for this force, calling it a bully that is intent on making us miserable. What kinds of things that get our Resistance or gremlins going?
- Getting involved in regular exercise
- Giving a presentation
- Learning or engaging in something new
- Changing jobs
- Launching your own business.
- Opening up a direct conversation about a difficult topi.
- Embarking on a creative endeavor
- Engaging in a spiritual pursuit
- Committing to a relationship
- Taking a principled stand in a difficult situation
We could all get together and create our own list, because we’ve all experienced this! When our Resistance or gremlins get going we experience a welter of thoughts, feelings and actions that get us stuck and keep us from pursuing that which we yearn for. But we don’t have to stay stuck.
Resistance or gremlins may be inevitable but they don’t have to stop us. Pressfield calls for us to behave and think like the ideal of a Professional. That includes deeply committing to what we do, loving it, showing up to do the work every day, no matter what, and working all day. Read more of his ideas in The War of Art (2002) and Do the Work! (2011). Rick Carlson’s gremlin-taming process involves awareness, breathing, visualization, meditation and cognitive techniques. He writes about these in Taming Your Gremlin (2002) and A Master Class in Gremlin Taming (2008).These books shifted my perspective gave me tools to use in the struggle with Resistance and gremlins.
Tara Mohr identifies the inner critic the force that gets in our way. In Playing Big (2014) she shows us how to recognize and quiet the inner critic – the voice of self-doubt. The inner critic arises most strongly in response to our most deeply felt dreams. The inner critic can threaten our health and our success. She offers techniques for quieting the inner critic, learning from it and moving ahead in spite of it.
Whatever it’s cause, wherever it comes from, we all experience it – a force that wants us to stay safe, stay put, stay the same. It can get in the way, creating huge barriers that keep us stuck in a place we don’t want to be. I’ve overcome barriers and move forward with some important changes in life. I’ve never done it alone. I’ve gotten help from friends, counselors and coaches. You don’t have to do it alone either.
Get in touch to learn about opportunities for real conversations about what matters most: caring relationships, core purpose and clear vision.