Tim was heaving, keeping his head above water. All four legs were paddling vigorously. A mild current in the river meant that he had to work harder than just swimming in a still river. Tim kept swimming towards his floating toy. He was determined to retrieve it as he had always done. It was important. It was his favourite toy for the past few years. He knew that if he relaxed and go with the flow (pun intended), he would lose his toy. No way was that going to happen!
He persisted. He felt his tiredness setting in but did not give up. Stroke by stroke, inch by inch, he swam closer. Finally, he closed his mouth over it. Just by doing so appeared to have given him a boost of energy and renewed enthusiasm to paddle even faster back to the river bank where his guardian was cheering him on. He swam, felt the resistance and continued to reach his goal.
How easy is your life? How hard is your life? More importantly, how much effort do you take to remove the obstacles in your life and seek comfort and pleasure? When the obstacles are removed and you are revelling in your comfort, how long do you stay there? Or do you try to avoid any hardship and seek the path with the least resistance? For most, it is normal to go with the flow, not against it, or be safe and not take risks. Many will always take the beaten path and not beat a new one. After all, we all like our pleasures (and comforts) and do what we can to avoid pain (and discomforts), right?
The problem lies in that the greatest growth happens when there is resistance. When you go to the gym, you train your muscles by adding on weights such that you can only do a few reps initially until you can do more. In which case, you add on more weights again and repeat the process. If you do not add on more weights, your muscles stop growing and are only maintained. The growth rate would diminish rapidly compared to when you first added the weights on.
This is not referring to complicating your life with random actions, experiences, or people just to acquire resistance. It is more about understanding that resistance is essential for growth. Trying to resist resistance is futile if you are wanting to grow. Taking the easy way out does not allow you to be more. When you step into your areas of discomfort and fear, you allow yourself to step into a place where your greatest growth is possible. It could be the task you are dreading, a new relationship, being more vulnerable and open in your present relationship or anything that you have been trying to avoid for a long time.
Many like to play it safe and maintain the status quo. They repeat actions, thought processes that they are familiar with that produces a predictable outcome. They say or do things that others have done because it was safe and nothing bad happened. They live their today like they have done yesterday. They plan their tomorrow using similar rules and expectations of today. They seek the comfort of certainty and do their best to avoid any resistance in life. ‘Use the proven method to avoid any pain” is their mantra. They follow instead of lead because leading means you are first in the front line and just like swimming the first person hitting the current gets the most resistance.
The results they receive are mediocre and even sometimes poor. It is like the muscle that is trained using the lowest weights with the least (or no) resistance, it hardly grows and sometimes, even atrophy. However, when resistance is applied, to be able to overcome that resistance, you will need to become more. It is not easy nor comfortable and at times, it can even be downright painful. The result is not measured by what you have achieved or how much you have grown. The result will be the person you have become to be able to overcome that resistance. Very simply, you would become more than you were before you met that resistance. In short, you would have grown.
So, be aware that resistance, discomfort and/or pain are not necessarily bad. When you are growing through challenging times, the potential and opportunity for you to grow appear. Instead of seeing them as difficult, frustrating and unnecessary events, you could reframe them as simply training. They are training provided for you to grow physically, mentally, emotionally and invariably, spiritually. Embrace the resistance you have in your life. This is not referring to accepting them without cause that may not serve to empower you at all. Be selective with the resistance you allow in your life. Simply recognise them as training aids to help you become more. After all, in life, with the passing minutes and seconds, if we are not growing, we are dying. There is no status quo.
Tim knew he had to swim against the resistance of the river to get what he desired. He was also growing his stamina and muscles because of it, making him more than before. Recall the time you grew the most, was it in comfort or in resistance?
‘When everything seems to go against you, remember that the aeroplane takes off against the wind, not with it’ – Henry Ford