“The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
There I was last weekend, shooting a huge ad-campaign for a super-fancy-pants venue, when out of nowhere it crept in.
“You don’t fit in here… You’re not good enough.”
“They made a mistake hiring you.”
“Photographer x-y-z would have been doing much better than you right now.”
Just like that, the wind was taken out of my sails, and I could feel the shift. Resistance. You mean, ugly bully.
I excused myself for a bathroom break, but really I went to a corner of the property where I could feel the sun on my face. I took a deep cleansing breath and affirmed myself: “I got this. I can do this.”
When I first started taking myself seriously as a professional photographer I thought I was the only one who dealt with Resistance. I looked around at everyone else and it seemed to me that everyone had all the confidence in the world. They simply had it all together, all the time. I truly believed that I was the only photographer ever in the history of cameras to experience nervousness, self-doubt, and at times, crushing urges to give it all up and sprint in the opposite direction.
Then one day, in an old dusty used booked store, I found the book The War of Art. It was a total game changer.
After devouring the pages, I began to talk to other people about what I had just learned regarding Resistance. I was eager to hear other artist’s thoughts. Forget the ocean of jovial-Facebook-Twitter-perfection-facades. There was no time for pretend. I wanted people’s honesty.
The more people I spoke to the more I understood that Resistance effects every all of us. Every single one of us. Sigh… I was not alone.
Victimizer. Monster. Boogie Man. Writer’s block. Panic attack. Lack of self-esteem. It has many names and many, many faces, but resistance has only one mission: Stop self-evolution.
The second I even think about creating something, the mighty powers of Resistance come charging forth. There have been times when in an instant I have gone from, “I can’t wait to paint with my new brushes!” to “I am the worst painter in the history of the world and I should never, ever paint again. Not to mention there are dishes to wash and more important things to do.”
Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art, talks about the different forms Resistance can take, and the different symptoms that occur when it consumes you. This book is in my list of recommended readings for every photographer I mentor now and I really can’t say enough about it. It saves me when I need a life preserver and it sustains me when I need a refresher of the truth.
Here is his list of activities that most commonly elicit Resistance:
1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art.
2) The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
3) Any diet or health regimen.
4) Any program of spiritual advancement.
5) Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.
6) Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.
7) Education of any kind.
8) Any act of political, moral, or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.
9) The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.
10) Any act that entails commitment of the heart.
11) The taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity.
In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity.
Resistance is no joke. It is an energy force that is hell-bent on seeing us fail and fall hard. It will create distractions, diversions, negative thoughts, and a limitless amount of fears.
So what are we to do about it?
Pressfield suggests that the only way out is to “Do the work.” Basically, shut up and show up. But, for me, that only worked for a little while. Even if I was showing up everyday and tackling my to-do list, something was still not right. I got exhausted easily and my motivation swung like a pendulum. I thought that the more I worked, the more progress I was making toward success. Only, the opposite was true. Being busy does not equate to being successful or being productive. I love Pressfield and I love his book, but in terms of fighting resistance and creating a powerful and purposeful Self at the same time? He only painted a tiny corner of the picture in my opinion.
Here’s my holistic approach to conquering the relentless resistance monster:
- Relentless Gratitude
- Avoiding false motivators (GET OFF OF FACEBOOK!)
- Eating plenty of whole, organic, unprocessed foods
- Regular meditation/prayer time
- Doing the work
In my class, Awakening the Spark that I teach at The Define School, I go into every single one of these in loads of detail. For now, I just want you to know this: You are not alone and Resistance is real BUT it is completely surmountable. You just have to have the right tools in your pocket.
In closing, last weekend, when those awful self-doubting thoughts snuck up on me, I knew I needed to carve a few moments of quiet as soon as possible to regroup. I needed to find my breath, my truth, and my balance so that I could get out there and do what I do best. It wasn’t a big deal because I now know that those moments don’t make me crazy or weird or less-than. It’s all part of the artist experience and as long as I keep doing what I need to do Resistance doesn’t stand a chance.
Psst… Sometimes when I’m editing and I feel Resistance coming in, I work with clips from Rocky playing really, really loud on repeat. Eye of the Tiger, baby!
Michelle Gardella and her You. Are. Enough. message is bringing a much-needed breath of fresh-air to the wedding photography industry. Registration for her October 15th class, Awakening the Spark, is now open at The Define School. You can sign-up here.Previous Post: How To Cull Wedding Photos Fast and Easy
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