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Battling the Resistance Monster Hurting Your Photography


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DefinePermission3-450x605 Battling the Resistance Monster Hurting Your Photography Business Tips Guest Bloggers

“The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

-Steven Pressfield

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.”

MichelleGardella1 Battling the Resistance Monster Hurting Your Photography Business Tips Guest Bloggers

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.

MichelleGardella5 Battling the Resistance Monster Hurting Your Photography Business Tips Guest Bloggers

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.”

Yup. Resistance.

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.

MichelleGardella2 Battling the Resistance Monster Hurting Your Photography Business Tips Guest Bloggers

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:

  1. Relentless Gratitude
  2. Avoiding false motivators (GET OFF OF FACEBOOK!)
  3. Eating plenty of whole, organic, unprocessed foods
  4. Regular meditation/prayer time
  5. 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.

MichelleGardella3 Battling the Resistance Monster Hurting Your Photography Business Tips Guest Bloggers

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.


No Comments

  1. christy schmid on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Really needed this today…thanks for sharing! Christy

  2. Anna-Leigh on October 3, 2012 at 9:46 am

    You know, this couldn’t have come at a better moment. I seem to deal relentlessly with self doubt, resistance, excuses and lots of them. Maybe it’s time to beat up that old resistance monster, and ask it to give my courage back 😉 Thanks for the post!

  3. Lynnette on October 3, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Thank you I needed this also. I have had lack of motivation and doubting myself in many ways, including whether or not I should move forward in my photography. I am going to very much limit myself on Facebook as well, lol.

  4. Ida N on October 3, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Thanks for writing this. I too really needed to read this today. I’ve been battling with resistance among many other things for a while now. I’ve started feeling burned out trying to beat this monster upon awakening every day, but this information does help!All the best to all of you,Ida

  5. Caroline Unwin on October 3, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Wow – I felt I was the only one going through it – and others have already beaten me to the reply!Thank you for the HUGE boost up! <3

  6. Michelle Gardella on October 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you so much for all the incredible comments. There are so many unspoken experiences we, as artists of all kinds, go through but we don’t have to do it alone! I am beyond thrilled to be a DEFINE teacher. The students are remarkable and I pinch myself every single day. Can’t wait for the next group to begin!Are you ready to wake up your spark? 🙂

  7. Wendy on October 3, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    OMG! I started to cry when I read the “I Give You Permission” graphic at the top of this post. This is exactly what I am going through right now, or rather, discovering that I am going through… and how Resistance is blocking my path to creativity and success, whatever that means for me. Thank you for writing this. You rock!

  8. heather mcgrath on October 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    thank you! thank you for this post and the reminder to not let the self-doubt overtake our thoughts. it is a constant struggle and i am a master at coming up with “valid excuses” to not pursue this. i needed to hear this…

  9. Sasha Holloway on October 10, 2012 at 5:22 am

    This is why I am SO glad I signed up for her class. <3

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