I’m being called to do something that feels pretty big, and also pretty scary.

I’ve been sidestepping this for awhile, feeling the call and then responding with resistance.

I keep telling myself I’ll do the big, scary thing LATER… once I’ve finished updating my website… developing this program… cleaning out my closets… [insert a bajillion other things that I’ve come up with to do instead of the scary thing].

Today, during meditation, the call came through again loud and clear. I responded by having an inner temper tantrum, which sounded something like “I don’t want to! I don’t have time for this! Pick someone else! Why does it have to be ME????” And so on.

So I reached out to my coach, who invited me to explore my relationship with resistance.

Once I looked at the resistance (through a metaphor, because that’s how I roll), I could see it as a very strong, very TERRIFIED octopus, one that was avidly trying to smother a candle I was trying to light. (It’s a magical underwater candle, in case you’re wondering. Just go with it.)

Anyway, each time I got close to lighting the candle, the octopus would do something to block me.

Sometimes this involved snaking out a tentacle to grab the match, other times it involved plopping its whole self spread-eagle over the candle, rooting its tentacles into the seafloor. And sometimes it involved the octopus clinging to my limbs, wrapping me in a squelchy, yet paralyzing bear hug.

It’s important to note that this octopus isn’t bad, it’s just scared. It honestly believes that something TERRIBLE will happen if it allows me to light this particular candle, and it is going to do everything in it’s power to try and keep me safe.

At the core, this is what resistance is — it’s fear. Like the octopus, it reaches its tentacles out in every direction, trying to stop us from doing scary things. Trying desperately to keep us safe.

In fact, just in attempting to write this post, I have felt the octopus drag me to my phone numerous times.

I’ve felt it plaster itself against the window, sucking me into the lovely diversions of watching the breeze blowing through the grass, noticing a bunny rabbit, keeping count as a lizard did it’s push-ups.

When I got up to refill my water, it flung a tentacle out as I passed the door to the fridge. (Which I opened. And then made a sandwich. Which I then ate.)

This is how resistance shows up — in a thousand different ways, pulling us in a thousand different directions.

It’s part of doing big, scary things in the world. If you’re committed to following your calling, you need to know straight up that the only way to make it go away is to NOT do what you’re called to do.

Which may make the octopus happy (because: safety), but it also means never doing the things you’re MEANT to do.
The art you’re meant to make. 
The book you’re meant to write. 
The trip you’re meant to take. 
The business you’re meant to start.

Here’s the other thing you should know: The more you struggle against resistance, the tighter it grips. Think of it like an octopus clinging to you for dear life — you can try and pry its tentacles off, but you’re not going to get very far, and you’ll exhaust the hell out of yourself in the process.

So what to do?

Recognize it as resistance. Picture it in your mind (as an octopus, if that works for you), and call it by name. Treat it with love and compassion, the way you would treat a small, terrified, vulnerable creature, because that’s exactly what it is.

Make friends with it. Offer it treats. Sing it to sleep if you have to. Do what you need to do in order to calm it as best you can, and then get on with doing the scary stuff.

And, when it wakes up and starts flailing its tentacles about, calmly begin again.

Eventually, it will learn that it doesn’t have to make a holy show about every single thing. (Fair warning: it will probably always make a holy show about really BIG things, but you’ll know what to do when that happens. ^^)

As for me, I’m off to start the scary thing. Any calming energy you can spare, please send it over.

My octopus and I thank you.