Contemplating and planning change provokes fear in most of us. Stephen Pressfield describes this as Resistance. Resistance is the forces that automatically arise to stop you when you’re ready to do something that isn’t about immediate reward, but focuses on long term gains in growth, health or integrity. His book Do the Work! (2011) is written to coach you past Resistance as you tackle your creative, entrpreneurial, or life changing project.
Some fears are Resistance, which aims to keep us just as we are right now. I suppose the one good thing about Resistance is it can point out the need for careful reflection about how passionately committed you are and how prepared you are to succeed.
There’s another kind of fear that perhaps is a relative of Resistance, but has it’s roots in real experience. Like my fear of dental procedures. Maybe you share that one. Mine arose in my 30’s following an excruciating root canal. Enough said. This month I got brought face-to-face (ha-ha) with that fear. The same tooth that had the root canal 20 years ago was hurting. I knew that was bad, but waited a week before seeing my family dentist. He sent me to an endodontist who tried treating with antibiotics. Midway into my second round of meds, it became apparent conservative treatment wasn’t going to work. The pain had returned and was getting worse. Still it took me a couple of days to call to be seen again.
What got me to act, despite the fear, is that we have a bicycling tour coming up in a week. There’s no room for a medical emergency on a trip like that! Wednesday morning I went to the endodontist. From there, it was straight to the oral surgeon, toothache, anxiety and all.
The result? I am fortunate to have the insurance and the personal funds to take care of my health. I shouldn’t have to say that. Everyone should have the security of knowing they can access health and dental care when they need it. I received compassionate, responsive and skillful care. That should be universally true, too, but unfortunately is not. The extraction (aided I freely admit, by nitrous oxide) was over with quickly. Two days later, I am doing well, and feeling good enough for a bike ride. The surgeon said I can be as active as I want to and there’s no problem about my much anticipated trip.
The lessons I drew from this? Fears that have a basis in reality can be exaggerated, stop us from doing what we need to do and cause us to suffer unneeded angst.
It’s not necessary to be stopped by these fears. One of the things a life coach can do is help you sort out reasonable concerns from Resistance. It’s a remarkably freeing experience to do that work.