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Get Unstuck: 7 Kinds of Resistance You Must Overcome in Your Calling

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Get Unstuck in Your Calling

If you are serious about getting started on your dream or stepping deeper into your calling, then knowing the kind of resistance you’re experiencing holds the keys you need to get unstuck.

The big takeaway of this list of breakthrough opportunities: Just because your dream isn’t easy doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be. Just because you sensed God place an audacious calling on your heart, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right away or by yourself. When you identify what resistance is pushing back, you can recognize the best strategy to move forward with ease.

The most important thing to understand with this is that if you keep trying harder, you’ll get discouraged. Naming your resistance helps you spell out the difference between success and failure so don’t quit before making any progress.

Photo by Zohre Nemati on Unsplash

Resistance #1 — Inertia

You know what this feels like in habits. It’s the struggle to get back to gym workouts when you’ve stopped for a while. It’s the sluggishness after Christmas holidays to start eating better or to start meal planning after a busy season of eating out often.

The Oxford Dictionary defines inertia as

  1. lack of energy; lack of desire or ability to move or change
  2. a property of matter by which it stays still or, if moving, continues moving in a straight line unless it is acted on by a force outside itself

Your tendency to remain unchanged could feel like lack of motivation. It could also apply to the trajectory of your life. As a mom, you might going through the motions, caught in a cycle of working 60 hours a week, doing what needs to be done. Maybe you even consider yourself a good mom or a decent employee despite the tension you feel every day. But it all feels empty and you’re not sure what to do about it; deep down you ache to know what shift would create a more meaningful life.

Maybe the inertia you’re experiencing is leading a team or impacting a social need that prefers to remain unchanged. You’re all fired up with a vision and a cause you stand for, but getting people on board with you feels as successful as training a watermelon to give a high-five.

If an “outside force” is what disrupts inertia, what would that mean for your situation and for you to get unstuck?

There are two kinds motivation:

  • Intrinsic — internal inspiration like something you enjoy and that pulls you in and makes you lose track of time.
  • Extrinsic — an external disruption or motivator. This could be big such as a pandemic, a layoff, a death, a move, a wedding, signing up for a course, making an appointment with a therapist or getting a coach. Or it could be smaller rhythm activators, like creating a reward system for your team, asking a friend to meet you for a daily walk or putting an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink a bottle of water.

The good news is that once you get going and establish some consistency, things usually get easier.

Overcome Resistance #2 — Misalignment

Definition: “the incorrect arrangement or position of something in relation to something else.”

I need to book an appointment with my osteopath because I can feel parts of my body are not aligned. This misalignment is not only starting to hurt, it’s affecting my ability to go for hikes with my family, distracting my focus and sabotaging my morning routines. That’s what misalignment feels like in my body.

In your life, heart and soul misalignment feels

  • Confusing, sluggish or foggy
  • Like something is off
  • Like walking through deep water — a lot of hard work with little progress
  • It feels like you’re being fake or not true to your values or nature

It looks like

  • Tension in your relationships
  • Everything irritating you
  • Preoccupation with fixing something that merely leaves a problem elsewhere

When it’s time for realignment in your life, resistance is the signal that something needs attention. 

Often it’s not the problem itself that needs your attention to get unstuck. Instead, it’s taking an honest inventory of what’s important and true to who you are. For example, this could be:

  • reevaluating what you truly value in this season and taking steps to live them out
  • articulating who you want to become, what you’ve been learning, what God has been prompting you to do
  • focusing on what you do have that you’re grateful for, instead of hyper-focusing on what’s wrong or missing if your life.
Photo by Andrew Moca on Unsplash

Overcome Resistance #3 — Expectation

An expectation is a belief about what might happen in the future, such as your expectation of how your career path will unfold. Expectation can also describe what is supposed to happen, such as the mom (eh hem) who expects that garbage to be placed in the trash can and her child getting shoes on should only take a minute (not ten).

Expectation can be filled with anticipation and excitement — until it’s not. That’s when the resistance of expectation launches the emotional roller coaster of anger, stress and disappointment. It can stir up the rebel in you, shut down communication in a relationship, stir up panic attacks or make you want to stay in bed all day. It’s the gap between the belief of what might happen and reality.

The resistance of misplaced expectations can arise from several angles:

  • What you expect of yourself
  • What you expect of life
  • What you expect of God
  • What God expects of you
  • What you think God expects of you
  • What you expect of others
  • What others expect of you
  • What you think others expect of you

Because the sense of failure, shame and regret can arise from this kind of resistance, it can feel extra daunting to face these expectations alongside reality. Yet in the big picture you’ll find it’s worthwhile, and even help you sidestep and manage future expectations.

What to do when you realize unrealistic expectations are getting in the way of who you want to be and what you want to achieve:

  1. Start by making a list of the key people in your life. Don’t forget to include yourself and God. 
  2. Next to their names, jot down what you believe they expect of you and what you expect of them. 
  3. Then, begin noting the patterns and gaps. Where to the expectations you’re trying to live up to clash? Which ones are stirring up resentment, guilt or shame? By then, you might now exactly what you need to do to align them with reality.

If you don’t, your next step will probably be to talk it out with someone like a friend, therapist or mentor to gain the perspective and tools you need to address it.

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Overcome Resistance # 4 — Climax

This kind of resistance is the upward climb toward a major mile marker. Often it’s the stretch of the journey where you can’t see the end, when we say we want to “see the light at the end of the tunnel”. It’s when you can’t see what impact your hard work has been amounting to. It’s the place where so many people quit right before the win would have taken place. For the outsiders looking in, this is often the invisible work put in before someone becomes “an overnight success”.

Though this stretch feels like it’s lasting forever, as you persevere, eventually you experience the benefit or the purpose behind it. The payoff is also the pride of realizing you accomplished and persevered far more than you ever thought possible. 

So how do you tackle uphill resistance? 

One step at a time. Put one foot ahead of the other. Stopping only makes its harder to start up again. 

My cousin told me about a 10-day hiking excursion he experienced. One day he had to put in a twelve-hour day of hiking to make it to the next spot where they could set up camp. It was grueling. He ached all over and all he could think about for hours was where he hurt and how tired he was. But at some point his mind and body succumbed to the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other.

Soon, he was able to start noticing the bird calls, the mushrooms along the path, the gift of oxygen, the woodsy aroma. That night as he and his companion set up camp, eager for sleep, they were too tired to talk, but he had a deep appreciation for how he was able to press through beyond what he thought were his limits.

During this climb resistance, your fuel will be learning the art and practice of visualization, gratitude, mindfulness in the moment, connecting to God’s power source, and learning how to manage your mental stamina and energy.

Overcome Resistance # 5 — Scarcity

The resistance of scarcity isn’t so much the reality of not having enough but, rather, the belief that there will never be enough — whether it’s finances, food, ideas, emotions or something different. As a result, your actions and thoughts around being stuck stem from a place of lack.

Scarcity can feel like

  • Desperation
  • Scrambling to find your solution through signing up for freebies, programs, listening to messages
  • Anxiety, panic, urgency
  • Anger with others for not meeting your needs or your offer
  • Holding on to something that’s taking up valuable space physically, relationally, mentally or emotionally

Scarcity sounds like

  • Talking about the same problem over and over with your friends
  • Icky, pushy selling
  • Overcompensating
  • Pleading
  • Being closed to new ideas or alternative solutions; guardedness

One way to recognize that scarcity is your resistance is if you’re automatic response is, “But there really isn’t enough of ______!” 

When you see lack as a dead end, it leads to hopelessness. That doesn’t sound fun. 

But what if there’s a different way of thinking to get unstuck? Not woo-woo stuff, but where you learn to see opportunities rather than limitations? It’s called having an abundance mindset or resourcefulness.

An abundance mindset inspires you to believe there’s more than enough of something to go around.

The benefits are beautiful. People who live from a sense of abundance hold on to ideas and belongings loosely, because they see what passes through their lives more as a stream than a swamp. They see lack as a challenge for their creativity and find a resourceful way to come up with a solution to overcome resistance. It actually increases their capacity to receive more because they’re constantly growing and expanding how they think.

So how do you big overcoming a scarcity mindset? The best ways to are first, to begin the practice of writing gratitude lists, and second, to surround yourself with abundant-minded people.

Overcome Resistance #6 — Villain

These are the bad guys in our path. They are the obstacles we take on because they stand in the way between us and what we desire. 

“When it comes to conflict, we want something to blame. We need to wrap our mind around it and objectify it to defeat it.”
— Emily Grabatin,
Dare to Decide: Discovering Peace, Clarity and Courage at Life’s Crossroads

Conflict comes in many forms:

  • Disease
  • Technology
  • Relationships
  • Beaurocracy
  • Supernatural enemies

The uprising of a villain — and seeing it as such — brings urgency that prompts us to either hide or take action. It can also reveal how much of a priority our dream or desire is so we put in the effort to get unstuck.

Overcome Resistance # 7 — Gremlin

These are the internal buggers that mess with our heads and undermine our confidence.

  • The inner critic
  • Perfectionism
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Idealism
  • Self-doubt
  • Insecurity
  • Shame

Too many to name here!

The point is, when you dare to decide to leave your crossroads and step into that dream or calling, you’re also choosing to take on these gremlins. Maybe once you tolerated them or avoided their havoc. Maybe you even made one your pet and carried it around on your shoulder.

But your new dream doesn’t have space for these gremlins! And they aren’t going to be happy about it! Here’s the sneaky truth about gremlins: They’re going to show up at every point of resistance mentioned above. 

Expect a challenge and instead of feeling surprised or slighted, see it as part of the journey. In fact, consider it a way to show your dream you’re owning it and every time you combat another gremlin, you claim another part of its territory.

An easier way

So the thing for you to do here is to identify which kind of resistance is making this harder than you expected to get unstuck. Once you can name it, you can start looking at the specific strategy to implement.

If you haven’t yet read Dare to Decide: Discovering Peace, Clarity and Courage at Life’s Crossroads, this book will help you uncover an examine resistance in pursuing that dream on your heart. It will also provide thought-provoking questions and practical tips to help you take action at your own pace. It’s a good place to start!
You can find it in Barnes and Noble, on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca. 😀


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