Pushing Through Resistance
A few weeks ago I entered the 2019 Comrades Marathon. Everyone who knows me knows that submitting my entry and getting the confirmation email back was supposed to be the most exciting moment ever for me. It was, after all, a major step towards fulfilling a 27-year-old dream to run the Comrades. I started training for this race more than a year ago and bar a few niggles I’ve made steady progress. Yet instead of excitement, I felt overwhelmed with doubt and questions about my ability to complete the distance. Instead of leaning into what I know I’ve already achieved on this journey and allowing that knowledge to build my confidence, I started to think about giving up. My little voice started telling me I don’t have what it takes to cover the distance. Instead of waking up in the morning ready to spring into action on my training program I found myself trying to negotiate the process and the training being prescribed by my coach. For a few days, I found myself allowing old patterns to creep back into my thinking and as I did I felt my resistance to the work that’s required of me to reach my goal rising.
Deep down there has never been any question that this goal has been a driving force for me. If anyone asks me about it I light up instantly and if they give me 5 minutes, I’ll spend every one telling them how it feels so amazing to be running again and how I have re-arranged my entire existence around it. So why the resistance when I got my entry confirmation? Simply put, resistance is one of the hardest and trickiest opponents we will ever encounter and without consistent management of our minds we run the risk of allowing it to taunt us, to trip us up and to stop us in our tracks. What I really want - to be able to cross the finish line in Pietermaritzburg on 09 June 2019 within the 12-hour time limit - lies on the other side of the work I need to do. I already know that crossing the finish line within 12 hours on my first attempt will feel as good to me as winning the whole race. But I know myself too, including all my past patterns of behaviour and thinking and I knew early on in this journey that I was going to need to work on mastering my mind just as hard as I needed to work on my fitness, strength, and endurance. And for that reason, I committed to life coaching alongside my physical training program. And so as I felt my resistance building I also knew that I had a brand new set of skills and tools to implement in order to overcome it. I knew too from the work I’ve done in life coaching that the resistance was not going to keep me safe. It was going to keep me stuck. Unlike any previous time in my life, I didn’t quit. I chose to work through my fear (of failing and of actually succeeding) and my questioning of self and to face the resistance head-on. After all, what is resistance other than a thought I give power to?
So here are the 5 things I activated within myself in order to push through my resistance and to get both my thinking and my training back on track.
- I trusted the path of personal development I am committed to and started using the tools and the thinking I’ve learnt over the past few months in life coaching to accept the challenge of growth that lies ahead of me on this journey, without judgement or preference.
- I called out my resistance by sharing how I was feeling with both coaches to whom I am accountable. In doing so, I took away the power of my own negative thoughts and placed myself back into a space where I allow myself to be coached instead of trying to do things my own way.
- I flipped my anxiety into anticipation. I’ve always asked myself, “What if I fail,” but this time I asked myself, “What if I actually do this?” and I allowed myself to visualise how it’s going to feel when I do cross that finish line.
- I got out of my own head. Moving out of a space of constant thinking and overthinking and allowing my love of running to take the steering wheel by just getting out onto the road and running enabled me to find my why again and to find some real clarity in the midst of my busy head.
- I took the advice of someone I really respect and made a decision to stop taking everything so seriously and just find the joy in it again. I still love the data and the numbers but those aren’t going to get me over the line next year… my determination a positive attitude and the confidence that comes from knowing I’ve done the required work will.
A final thought on pushing through resistance from Josh Waitzkin: “Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.”
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