Why We Are Not Our Best Selves



There is a pervasive force that surges throughout our lives, controlling nearly all aspects of it, whether we realize it or not. The force that stops you from putting your hand in fire, jumping on shards of glass, or doing any other dangerous activity. But not only does this force stop you from doing activities that are incredibly dangerous to partake in, but it also prevents you from asking your boss for a raise, starting a business, asking someone out on a date, making friends, working out, and doing a number of things you know you should do. It is the force that permeates addicts’ brains when they try to quit. It is called resistance.

Resistance is the feeling you get when you try to do anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone. It is the feeling you get when you are binging your favorite TV show, and you think about starting your homework. That feeling of dread and physical discomfort drives us to rationalize our current behavior and not do the right thing. You might tell yourself, “I can just do it tomorrow,” or “After a couple more episodes,” or “This assignment is only a formative” and let yourself procrastinate for hours on end. Even after it becomes tomorrow, or you have watched way more than a couple episodes, you don’t do anything. You continue putting your work off until you absolutely cannot avoid it. This feeling is awful, but how in the world do we get rid of it? 

The truth is, you can’t. It is impossible to get rid of resistance: it will always be with you no matter what. But you can get better at fighting it in a lot of ways. The most straightforward and obvious way is just to do whatever it is that you feel resistance towards doing. This method is much easier said than done, but it truly is by far the best way to get rid of your discomfort. Just start whatever it is you want to do, and the feeling of discomfort will vanish. For example, if you have to write a massive essay, tell yourself you are going to write two sentences. A lot of the time, after writing those two sentences, you will keep writing. You usually realize that whatever it is that you have been dreading to do, is not that bad, and it becomes enormously easier to do whatever it is you need to do.

But let’s say that even thinking about what it is you have to do makes you want to vomit. What then? Well, there is a straightforward principle you can apply, called the “Do-Something” principle. It essentially tasks you with doing any small task, like brushing your teeth, putting socks on, or changing clothes: something that requires next to no effort. Usually, this action will scare away any laziness and make you feel much more ready and able to do whatever it is you need to do.

Resistance is a horrible force, but it is an amazing compass. Usually, the more resistance you feel towards a specific task, the more critical it is to your growth. So, whenever you feel resistance, do not be discouraged. That feeling is a guide, and if you feel it often and can fight through it most of the time, you are doing something right. Learn to embrace discomfort. Dive headfirst into the places you feel the most resistance, and watch yourself become the best version of yourself. If you want to learn more about this phenomenon, read the book The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. It goes incredibly in-depth on this topic and provides great insights.