Inner Work 101 is a series of in-depth blog posts I’m working on to de-mystify the inner workings of inner work. I’m tired of seeing brilliant creative people stumble around and settle for less than they really want because they don’t know how to navigate the path of their own potential and this is what I’m doing to help change that. Find all the Inner Work 101 posts right here.
I know you’ve got big obstacles in your way (like a lack of time, money or support) as well as places that trip you up (like self-doubt, procrastination and fear).
But you’re a creative genius so those things are all figure-out-able.
In fact – facing and transforming the obstacles is how you create the path. (I explain how that works in Inner Work 101: How Change Works.)
So if facing and transforming the obstacles is how you create the path then having obstacles is good because it gives you something to work with – raw material for building bricks for your yellow brick road.
So the obstacles are not what’s holding you back.
The thing that holds you back is your resistance to facing the obstacles.
Resistance is a sticky/tricky thing to work with. It can show up in a LOT of different ways, for example:
- being too busy for the things that matter to you
- deciding that your dream is impossible
- waiting for “the right time”
- a popular way for women is to be too busy taking care of everyone else to have any time or energy left for your own dreams and then feeling like you HAD to do all of that
- going along with what other people want you to do instead of making time for your dreams
- avoidance patterns, for example: over-spending and then getting so stressed out about money you have no energy to focus on your dreams
Resistance is so hard to see for what it is because it’s an energy pattern that you live inside. So it’s not true but it feels true.
This is resistance’s superpower, it gets you to stay in it because it convinces you that it’s true.
Like the Wizard of Oz trying to look like something he’s not, your resistance tells you that that’s an immovable brick wall ahead of you, you can’t go there, don’t even bother. And as long as you listen – you don’t go there.
But that brick wall is mostly smoke and mirrors. At its worse, it’s still climbable.
When you’re in resistance you’re caught in a lie (like I talk about in the How Change Works post) which means you’re totally disconnected from your power.
And you can’t come back into your power until you tell yourself the truth: you’re not waiting for the right time, you’re in resistance.
I’d rather pretend that I’m too busy than face my fear of failure.
So when you can remember that facing and transforming the obstacles is how you create the path then you are free to choose: get to work building bricks or to keep telling yourself a lie about why you can’t move forward right now.
My rule of thumb is that if I’m not doing what I want to be doing I assume I’m in resistance.
And I do find myself in resistance often. I decided to write about it today because I am in it pretty hard.
This is how it works:
My resistance shows up as a small, smooth grey rock, nestled in my hand.
I feel optimistic about this, as some days my resistance shows up as a monster or a mountain – things that feel big and strong and like they are going to crush me.
I beam love at the rock and ask it what it wants.
After a few minutes, the rock cracks in 2 and a small worm crawls out. The worm feels familiar.
It crawls up my arm to whisper in my ear: I want to feel loved.
I gently pick it up and put it back in my hands. “I do love you. You are so sweet and smooshy and green and lovely. What’s not to love?”
But as I do this I can see the problem.
This small, shy part of me who wants to feel loved doesn’t belong in the land of this project I want to be working on (aka: The Thing I Am Resisting Working On This Morning).
Because then I’d be doing my work in order to feel loved, instead of doing my work in order to serve.
You see the difference? When you do your work to get your personal needs met the energy between you and your project gets very messy very fast. This approach doesn’t give your creative potential solid ground to grow from so you’re not going to do your best work. Being tied to external approval in that way freezes and shrinks your creative genius.
This little worm does not belong in the rock.
It belongs in the jungles of my heart where there are branches to play on and leaves to eat and sunshine and soft warm earth to burrow in. This little worm can find healing there.
When I look back in the land of my project, I can see that the rock was jamming up the gears of inspiration and magic and bringing all productivity and momentum to a halt.
It’s important not to fight any of the beings that live in your inner world. In the spirit of wholeness, everything belongs.
It’s just that some things can wind up in the wrong place, and it’s your job to keep everything in the right place.
(This is why fighting your inner critic doesn’t work – that actually only makes it fight harder against you and your dreams.)
So I put the worm into the jungles of my heart, the rock disintegrated because it was never real (it was just a hiding place for the frightened worm) and the gears of inspiration and magic started turning again.
And now here I am, in the land of happy productivity.
This is how it works. When you face your resistance you transform it.
The story that unfolds when I meet my resistance is different every time. The characters are different every time.
But the thing that is the same every time is that there is always a way to move forward. Always.
(Whenever you feel certain that you can’t move forward right now, this is a sign that you are in resistance.)
Working with resistance is the main thing I do. It’s like how I have to cut out the fabric before I can sew my clothes. It’s the foundation that makes the dream work possible.
I created the Un-Sticking Station in the Creative Dream Circle to meet and transform resistance and obstacles as quickly as possible. I use it almost every day because the faster I face the resistance and do this work, the faster I can get to work building my dreams.
As far as I can tell, you don’t have a choice about whether or not to have resistance – we all have it. But you can choose whether or not you’re going to allow it to control you and dim your dreams. You can practice and get better at transforming resistance and that will make all the difference.
Feeling like it would take a miracle for you to break through your resistance? You’re in luck!
Project Miracle is for people who believe in the magic of their dreams and are ready for something to change.
It’s a 30 day Choose-Your-Own-Adventure creative support groups for making change happen.