Maurice Gibbons (c) 2008 Personal Power Press International
[If you are ready to spring into action without any problem you may choose to skip this activity and get at it. Or just read it for information, so you know where it is if you need it.]
1. Many people have difficulty overcoming their resistance to taking action.
2. To be self-directed, you must overcome this resistance.
3. Understand your resistance. There are many reasons, and most of them are fear.
4. This program has already given you key skills and practices that will help you.
5. There are many things you can do to win.
6. Prepare and take action.
To be or not to be?
You have a goal, you have a plan, but will you act? Our resistance to doing even what we decide to do, what we want to do, is legendary. “Between the conception/And the creation.../Falls the shadow,” says T.S. Eliot in his poem Hollow Men. “To be or not to be?” worries Hamlet, as he agonizes about taking action to revenge his father’s murder in Shakespeare’s famous play.
Our own resistance to action is the most toxic force on the planet, says Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Those are, he says, battles we must win.
Taking action is not easy because you have to come out of hiding to do it. You can write about great action in the privacy of your rooms and in your journals, but when you turn to act, you have to step onto the stage into the light where others are watching, where we have to get our moves and our lines right. Where we could fail. There. It’s out. We have to fight our fear of failure, humiliation, and loss.
Thinking is easy, but to put one’s ideas into action is the most difficult thing in the world. Goethe
So let’s get at it
The argument is as least as old as Socrates that we can only be free to choose our own way if we learn to master ourselves; and if we cannot govern ourselves, then others will be our masters. The first part of dealing with our resistance is to recognize it and understand it.
* Stop, relax, think hard about putting your plan into action. Visualize yourself doing it. Imagine what happens. As it unfolds check your feelings. As you anticipate taking action, how do you feel? Are you excited or anxious?
* If you feel anxious, find out why. Look these reasons over—they are often referred to by people who resist action—and then make notes about any that seem to describe your reaction:
1. I rationalize in such ways as this...”I don’t have time for this right now, but later...” “I need to think this over, do more research, talk to Bill, wait until the weather clears, watch for a sign, and then...” “ This is not a good time in our lives for me to be doing...” And so on and on.
2. I am afraid of such consequences as this...I might fail and be humiliated...I might be making a bad choice and others will criticize me...I may suffer dire consequences for doing this...I will offend....And so on and on.
3. I have low self-esteem...I don’t think I can do this, in fact I’m not worthy of taking this kind of initiative...who do I think I am...I don’t deserve opportunities like this....I always mess up...And so on and on.
4. I am low-energy or low-intensity...I’ll get around to this in good time...it’s not that important...I’m not sure what is important to me...I’m laid–back; I don’t get excited about things like this. And so on and on.
5. I am anxious...I’d do this but what if my partner objects? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I get sick? Maybe I won’t find any cumquots and then whot? If I get started I bet I wont be able to sleep and I’ll get my rash back. And so on and on.
6. I can’t decide for myself because I am so dependent on others...I can’t do it because my friends disapprove...I’ll need Jean’s help if I’m going to do anything...Only if Zeus promises his support and assistance...but I don’t think my parents would like it if...what’s everyone else doing? And so on and on.
7. I have to be successful and I’ve set high standards because I need the approval and admiration of everybody. I need people to like and admire me...Sometimes the goals I set are too difficult to achieve and I have a hard time keeping at it...I just can’t get enough applause and approval from others, and if it stops...I often lose interest in my goals...And so on and on.
8. I am disorganized and unable to manage myself. I can’t find my plan...I’m not sure what to do next...I’m confused about how to get there...was I supposed to meet you today?..I would but I’m not sure...they shoot the guy in front first, don’t they...And so on and on.
9. Your reason for resistance. What other reason can you see for your own resistance to taking action?
Understanding your resistance
These are worth thinking about because no one can be self-directed if they cannot overcome their resistance to being self-directed.
* Examine the items you have checked off. Feel as well as understand what happens when you face taking action. If you are afraid, feel how that feels, and look at the explanation you have for that fear. Simply examine what is going on with you.
* Next, see if you can explain why you have learned to respond in this way. Was this how you were brought up? Has something happened that led to your feeling and decision about taking action? You may have a story about that. What is it and how did it develop?
* When you have examined your response thoroughly, discuss it in your journal. This will be the beginning of your new story about initiative. Achieve a new level of understanding about why you resist actions that you want to pursue.
Maurice Gibbons (c) 2009 Personal Power Press International
Take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.
Now it is time to gird for battle, the battle that you must win. We begin by writing a new story. In an interview, Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now, said that his breakthrough came when he separated the stories he had accumulated about himself—about his inability to act and succeed—from his real self, not the person weighed down with the shackles of the tales of his past, but the person alive in the present moment, in the now.
How about you? Can you separate yourself from the stories about you?
Can you visualize doing this yourself? Peel off all of those stories that you have accepted as you, and look at yourself in this moment, now. From now you can be anything you choose. You can rewrite the story of your capacity for action.
You already have a number of important weapons in place to help you win this struggle.
1. You know your strengths.
2. You have a goal and a strategic plan
3. You have made a commitment
4. You have agreed to be intentional in your life and you have made a number of supporting agreements
5. You understand your resistance
6. You know that self-direction involves challenging yourself.
Preparing to act
Add these preparations to your armory for action:
I. Identify a time when you took very successful action. Remember the events and the feelings associated with them and make note of these in your journal. Keep these events and feelings in mind as you face your resistance; use them as guides.
2. Become self-motivating. In self-direction you have to be your own motivator, so start collecting tactics that work for you. The favourite tactic of this program is, “Hire the Hall and Send Out the Brochure.” Simply make a contract or commitment that can’t be broken. That motivates just about anyone to have their show ready. The only alternative is to head out of town. Here are a few more suggestions for self- motivation:
Find a hero or model to inspire you.
Tie your activity to some basic need...friendship, money, helping others, health.
Keep the product you are pursuing in mind and, if possible, in sight with a sketch or statement pinned up.
Consider each step you take a small section and celebrate completing it, be proud.
Tell someone you admire what you plan to do.
3. Confirm that you are on an upward pathway to success. Make a commitment to yourself in your journal or to a companion, perhaps, your journaling partner.
4. Intervene in any negativity toward action—thoughts, feelings, memories—and replace them with positive responses.
5. If you haven’t already, take over now. Be the commander in charge of yourself. Take charge. Set the tone. Begin the adventure. Set dates and times and make yourself toe the mark.
6. Switch from an amateur’s to a professional’s attitude toward your performance. You chose this work; now, love it. Think of it as your craft and work with pride. You are not playing around; this is for keeps, so you do it with professional pride—patiently, systematically, and without fear or excuses. Your work represents you.
7. Anticipate problems and be ready to solve them. Take pride in being unstoppable. Problems will arise. Be ready to respond creatively and search relentlessly for solutions to problems and for pathways around obstacles.
Develop a strategy that suits you.
Consider the list of resources at the beginning of this activity and the seven ideas above and then add any others that you can think of. From all of these, develop and apply your strategy for overcoming your resistance. Not winning the struggle is not an option.
The core is your conviction that you can and will complete the activity for which you have a goal and a plan. Make a declaration now that you will reach the goal you have set by putting your plan into action. Include the date you will begin and make sure that is today or very soon, and then be sure that nothing stops you.
Lorraine G. made up a certificate of excellence for the completion of her first project—building a bookcase--with the signature line left blank until she was finished. She framed it and hung it over her desk. When she reached her goal, she signed it, put a photograph of her work in the middle and hung it back up as her statement to herself, “Yes, I can. Yes, I did.”
Do you have a specific activity lined up to start your project? Have you put down a date to do this step? If the date is not soon—a day or two at the most—move it up. Have you promised yourself to get started? In writing? Signed, your promise to yourself? Congratulations. Don’t miss it. Here you go!
Whatever you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Goethe