Overcoming Inner Resistances

People find themselves stuck in a rut, unable to realise ideas into a finished product, or even dreams into a reality, more often than they like. When the flow of creativity or ideas, feels jammed, it is very difficult to get out of it. Many feel like they are unable to accomplish or realize their goals and tend to either give up or settle for less.

What stops people from achieving their goals? And how does one get out of inaction and realise goals and ambitions?

It is an inner negative force called resistance that causes people to get stuck in a rut. Steven Pressfield’s Do The Work (2011), explains how resistance is a thwarting force that stops one from the action. It helps identify causes, helps one conquer fears, stops procrastinating, and learns how resistance is one’s worst enemy. It delves into techniques that can help one to get back on track and finally move forward toward success.

Identifying Allies And Enemies

In life, there are things that can help one achieve a set goal and things that get in the way of achieving them. These are one’s allies and enemies. While self-awareness and ambition are one’s key allies, resistance is an enemy that constantly poses a threat to achieving goals.

Do The Work by Steven Pressfield - Book Summary & Review
Do The Work by Steven Pressfield – Book Summary & Review

Resistance, an internal negative force, manifests itself in different ways. For example, the self-doubt a person feels while trying to work on something meaningful, any activity that requires a lot of energy or takes time, can draw resistance too. In fact, the more important an activity is, the more one has to fight the resistance to achieve it.

When it comes to one’s allies, passion, dedication, and confidence are all positive allies that can strengthen one’s resolve to achieve a goal. However, there are certain negative traits like stubbornness, arrogance, ignorance, etc. that can end up being allies too. Stubbornness, though a negative trait can help keep one dedicated to work.

For instance, Charles Lindberg, the American aviator was ignorant about the difficulties of flying for 33 straight hours. However, his arrogance and stubbornness led him to believe that he could. He succeeded and accomplished great feats. Lindberg is in fact, the first man in history to be in New York one day and in Paris the next!

Apple’s Steve Jobs was known for his stubbornness. It led him to guide the company to become the world’s most successful technology company. 

Creating Structures and Productive schedules

At times, rather than inaction, it is excessive preparation and overthinking that is counterproductive to getting things done. One has to be able to resist them.

Work is like meditating. One has to concentrate and focus and get into a mental state of being able to objectively assess one’s own feelings and thoughts. When self-doubt creeps in, one has to ignore it. Such thinking is a form of resistance and one should act on it first rather than waste time thinking and reflecting on it, or feelings of doubt.

For example, for a writer, action equals putting words down on paper, whereas reflection, is the evaluation of what was written the next day. Trying to write and reflect at the same time, will end in contradiction, and a waste of time.

One has to create structures and production schedules for oneself. The three-act structure is one of the useful structures that one can apply. In this, an idea is divided into three parts – the beginning, the middle, and the end.

For instance, if this structure were to be applied to the creation of Facebook, its beginning would be where Facebook as a digital meeting space wherein anyone could create their own page. The middle would refer to the creation of an interconnected web of contacts, where each could choose who is allowed access. The third part, the end, is a worldwide community of friends, where people can share and communicate whatever they want.

Confronting The Enemies Within

Creative blocks can lead to a loss of confidence. However, it is important to remember that these blocks can be overcome by recognizing the fact that there is an enemy working against the realization of dreams and goals.

This enemy lies inside one’s own head. It has to be defeated by oneself, and blaming external factors is futile. Additionally, one also has to recognize that this enemy, though inside oneself, isn’t the person itself. It is just internal resistance that is blocking the creativity inside, and there is no one to blame. Once a person understands this, fighting the enemy becomes possible.

When one encounters resistance, one has to answer two questions. These questions have only one answer, which will help one proceed in pursuing one’s goal. The questions are – 

  1. How badly do I want this?

The only answer to this question is, ‘Badly enough to be totally committed.” If one gets any other answer, such as I want this badly for the money, for fame, for power, etc., one will not succeed. Why? Because one needs to be totally committed to be able to push oneself to achieve a goal – no matter what!

  1. Why do I want this?

The answer to this question should be, ‘Because I have no choice.’ It doesn’t matter whether one wants to achieve a goal for the fun of it, or because of its beauty of it. But because only having no choice will bring profound dedication and determination to achieve a goal.

Overcoming The Big Crash

A Big Crash is a major obstacle in the path of achieving a goal that one encounters. Everyone faces it at some point in their careers. Crashes are demanding and difficult to overcome. However, one has to keep in mind that these ‘Big Crashes’ too, are just another problem that one can overcome.

Big Crashes can also be beneficial. They can force one to work hard to figure out what in their plan or project isn’t working. The author, after he had finished writing his book, The Profession, which had taken him two years, experienced a Big Crash. His friends who read the book hated it. It took him another year of hard work, and long conversations with colleagues, to improve it.

People often experience crashes after reaching higher levels of work, often when they are close to crossing thresholds. However, it is imperative to keep in mind that every attempt to move ahead will bring courage to go on and persevere. In fact, even fearing advances and success can be a resistance. Fear is at the very core of resistance.

Resistance is, at its strongest when one is close to the finish line. However, when one does overcome resistance, and as one tastes the success of overcoming more resistance in life, overcoming resistance gets easier. After all, what doesn’t kill, makes one stronger!


People often face resistance in the final lap of achieving a goal. They tend to overthink their success or lack of it and fall prey to inner resistance.

One can overcome these inner resistances by identifying allies and enemies, creating structures and schedules, confronting inner enemies, and learning that big crashes can be overcome.