The Firebird And The Nightingale

image of free spirited woman overcoming resistance to change

(Overcome your resistance to change).

My hands makes the shape of a bird on her shoulder. My fingers become wings. Their eyes are big, and round.

This, I tell them, is the bird who sings of pure joy. She tells you the good and the truthful. She shows you the way, when you have forgotten the song in your heart. She reminds you of your creativity, your dreams, and who you really are. I stroke her hair. Fragile gold in my hands.

But on the other shoulder, I say, is a firebird. My hands flit across to her other shoulder.

He wants to protect you, deep down. Listen to him, he is your sixth sense and your intuition.

But if you feed him too much, he becomes out of control. He tells you all your fears, your worries, and all of the things that could go wrong. He tells you to stay safe, be careful, don’t take risks, stay where you are.

And eventually screams so much you eventually you can’t hear the song bird on your other shoulder.

Listen, girls. Don’t let the firebird become so big he consumes you.

They say nothing, but they know now. Don’t feed the firebird too much, because he will sweep down and carry you away.

And you, fed the firebird, didn’t you. You’re staring into the eyes of resistance, but it feels so hard for you to overcome now, because for so long, you listened to the fear and the ‘what ifs’ and that firebird told you never to take risks, never to fly, and so you did not.

You know what you have to do, you know what you want to do, but instead you’d much rather sit there and stare into the eyes of the same old circumstance you’ve always had, always known to be true,

simply because it’s easier to stay where you are than it is to change.

You’re stuck in resistance!

Why People Get Stuck

The thing about resistance and why people stay stuck there for so long, is because resistance is comfortable.

Even the struggle within your resistance is comfortable! Yes, even being broke, or having uncertainty, not knowing, even feeling hopeless is your comfortability.

Being mediocre, is your comfortability.

Staying where you are now, receiving what you currently have, is some peculiar level of comfort for you, because it’s familiar.

Your struggle is the old friend you talk to, the blanket you shroud yourself in when it all seems ‘too hard‘.

Your excuses dominate your thoughts. But it’s easy to stay wrapped in excuses.

The peculiar comfort of the firebird that burns you to hold on to it, but you hold on to it anyway.

That’s why people really struggle to overcome resistance to change. It’s just too comfortable to stay where you are.

On the bright side, at least you’re aware you need to make a shift (otherwise you wouldn’t have read even this far).

Most people never even become aware, or listen to that call that pulls away inside them.

Most people deny it entirely, because they’re never quite miserable or desperate enough to do anything about it.

That’s why the middle classes (yes, in the UK, that’s still a thing) struggle. They’ve been taught through their education all the wonderful stories about how to create wonderful glittering lives, given all the confidence boosts in the world, had everything readily available to them – except hardship.

Hardship is what gives you the grit needed to push, to grind, to dream bigger and believe in yourself simply because nobody else around you does.

But most people never experience circumstances miserable enough to make them believe they have no other choice than to create a miracle for themselves.

And most people are educated into believing that they must avoid hardship at all costs, so they continue to exist in a level of mediocre comfortability, even when it’s sucking away their creativity, dreams from their childhood, and that bird that sits on your shoulder.

WAKE UP WORLD! stop playing the game they groomed you for.

If you want to create change in your whole life, it’s not going to start with you waking up one day a whole new person.

Overcome your resistance to change by realising what got you there in the first place. And then take small steps to overcome it.

Here’s how.

5 Easy Ways To Overcome Resistance To Change

1. Lie down on the floor.

When you’re a kid you’re forever taking risks. Climbing trees, swimming in rivers, diving off bridges, drawing weird things.

We stop taking risks as we get older. We stay stuck and fearful instead. We convince ourselves we are doing brave things (I got up at 5am! I launched my blog!) and they are brave things, but do they really involve risk?

If you want to overcome resistance to change you’re going to need to wake yourself up a little bit. Take risks that make you feel someone smacked you in the face with a wet towel. Risks that will remind you are alive.

You don’t have to feel terrified, yet. That will take you running right back to the firebird. But some small, crazy risks.

Lying down on the floor of Starbucks (I totally stole that from the Four Hour Work Week) is a risk. People will think you’re insane. It’s a good place to start.

Talk about something controversial. I nearly didn’t post the story at the top of this post. Nobody on Pinterest or anywhere else starts off with long analogies. Probably for some school-of-copywriting reason.

So, I nearly started with an intro so painfully boring it hurt my eyes.
I eventually decided to write anyway about the birds, and risk most of the people reading this post glazing over, because they don’t have birds or time for analogies. Who cares.

Lie down in a coffee shop. Write something weird. Eat the hottest curry. Buy something to wear in an insane colour or print or fit that you’d never usually wear. Write about birds and your kids and other naive and non-intellectual things.

Usually what you want to risk feeling is shame, embarrassment, or humiliation, because most of the time those are the things we are so afraid of feeling because society taught us they are bad.

We hold back on taking the bigger risks because the underlying emotion if we fail, or if that thing doesn’t work out, is shame. We will do anything to avoid shame which is why we avoid failing. And to avoid failing we have to avoid trying, and taking a risk.

I could say a lot about shame, but Brene Brown does it better.

2. Risk Money.

So next, if you want to overcome resistance to change, you want to risk money.  Choosing something wild in a restaurant or buying something you’d never usually ever wear is good for that. You’re risking ‘throwing away money’ when society teaches you to be frugal and careful.

When the bird squawks ‘be careful’ in his middle class, educated voice in your ear.

Which is why you end up wearing the the exact same thing for years on end, and then you have a mid life crisis and replace everything in your life with something new, because at some point you realise you can no longer live life listening to the firebird doing the same thing day in day out and so rather than realising you can make everything you currently have a million times better, you burn it all to the ground. Sometimes that needs to happen.

Usually though, you just need to realise it’s ok for you to start doing things differently.

So do it then. Do something different. Most of the people reading this post never will. Maybe you’re the 1% who will go and take a risk. Maybe you’ll lie down today when you order your coffee. Maybe you’ll do something a little bit risky, or buy something that feels really uncomfortable.

I realise how ridiculous that sounds but when you’ve been stuck in shades of grey for a long time, the easiest way to break out of it is to wear something fuchsia.

3. Rediscover What You Love

I don’t know why I’m writing about this, really. I’m pretty sure everyone who reads this has and regularly connects to something that they love. Eating pasta. Loving their partner. Love is easy. But prioritising it over the grind isn’t.

I guess that’s what I mean then. Make a choice to prioritise what you love, instead of squeezing into the spaces. That’s much, much harder, because what we love – dancing with our spouse in the kitchen, cooking every recipe in your grandmother’s cookbook, surfing everyday, painting the sky – feels like an indulgence.

It’s not ‘work’, is it?

But what if it was. What if that was your work.

I’m rediscovering the joys of writing novels again. Every other year or so I write a book, or most of one, and then stop. I’ve learned that it’s not about having a finished novel, for publication. I’ve stopped beating myself up about that. I’m starting to love the journey instead. I’ve published books, that’s not the goal.

The goal is just to give myself permission to write without a goal. That’s hard when the world prizes achievement over process.

But it’s always going to be the process that gets you to the goal, so, you might as well give yourself freedom to enjoy, love, and continue with the process for as long as it takes.

Love what you love with no conditions, constraints, goals or other ‘proof’ required that you’re doing it the right way. After all, that’s what a goal is, isn’t it? Proof you’re doing it right. What if you didn’t need proof?

How would you work, love, prioritise differently?

Love what you do. Dedicate yourself to it. Prioritise it and hold on to it when the firebird says, no, too scary, too much.

4. Open Your Eyes

We get so caught up in who and what we should become we forget that the future is made of the present now. If you’re caught up in indecision, inaction, right now, that’s all you’re going to get more of. It’s not going to magically shift one day.

It’s going to stay this long, painful process of second guessing yourself, self-analysis and paralysis.

Of trying to catch the singing bird when you think she is flying ahead of you and you’re frantically trying to reach for her and you keep stabbing in the dark and missing.

If you want to catch a bird, set a trap. Trick her into coming out into the open.

For that you’re going to need to look around you and be in the present moment. All senses fully alive and switched on. This quietens down the firebird enough for you to hear the songbird.

Because your head is no longer worried about the future and your heart is no longer tied down by the past.

Instead you are just right where you are supposed to be, right now.

When you can look around without fearing the past or the future, you can breathe a bit more easily. Your brain seems to have more space in it somehow. Space for more greatness, more you, to come through.

You start to see the good in situations. You don’t react from a place of emotion, or fear. You slowly start to reclaim your thoughts, and control over your life. You happen to life, rather than life happening to you.

It’s much easier to overcome resistance from there, because you’ve moved into a place of awareness. You’re going to be able to see yourself from a birds-eye view.

I’m not sure why I’m talking about birds so much today. They’re the classic symbol of freedom, so that’s probably why. When you’re stuck in resistance you are not free. You are trapped in the cage of your mind. This bird analogy could carry on and on, so I’m moving on.

Which is what you are able to do, when you are present in your moment, and in your seat, and in the world around you. You’re able to move on, rather than be chained in one spot.

Be present. Notice. Witness. Take note of how you feel. But not so much you end up going to psychologists. Sometimes that’s helpful, but often it keeps you where you are, reliving the past, fearing the future, giving the firebird more voice.

It doesn’t need voice. It needs soothing. Or, surprising, violently. You choose how fast you go.

5. Ditch consistency. Do this instead.

People seem to think that success is a result of consistency. That’s nonsense. You don’t become successful doing the same thing day in day out. That’s just going to bring you more of the same result.

It’s easy for me to write 100 blog posts. But at the end of it I will still only have 100 blog posts.

What’s not easy is getting those blog posts found, or earning money from them, or figuring out ads or SEO or getting them in front of the people who will pay me money to teach them how to write blog posts.

What’s hard is outsourcing all my blog posts because I believe other people can also write blog posts as good as and better than my own.

What’s harder still is writing creatively, with intention, with passion, with energy. Holding a vision. Making space for other creatives and entrepreneurs and parents and conscious kindred wild spirits to learn from and love. What’s hard is starting over every day with a blank screen.

The challenge isn’t ‘being consistent’. Anybody can be consistent. I could repeat the word rabbit every day for 3 months but at the end of it I’d still only be somebody repeating the word rabbit.

The challenge is to actively seek the challenge that helps us to grow, every day.

That’s hard in a world that wants us to stay consistent, which means ‘stay the same’. A baby doesn’t learn to walk by crawling. It learns to walk by trying to walk. By trying different ways to stand up, pieces of furniture to hold on to, by pulling itself up in different ways.

A baby literally finds the challenge every day and physically rises to meet it.

That’s how success is made, and resistance is overcome. Challenging yourself every day when the firebird tells you to stay the same, stay safe.

That’s all there is, really, to overcoming resistance.

  • Reconnect to what you love.
  • Prioritise it.
  • Shake yourself up by realising when you’ve become stagnant, which is where resistance lives.
  • Be present.
  • Start taking risks again
  • Find the challenges every day

And then ultimately, you’ll have overcome resistance to change.

Or you could just go and take massive action, today. But 99% of people won’t because we simply aren’t conditioned that way.

So start with this list. Easy ways to overcome resistance.


PS. Then when you’re ready, overcome your resistance to change and book a call with me. I won’t tell you to go lie on the floor of Starbucks. Or I might do. Usually though, we’ll find your challenges and overcome them together. Two heads are better than one. And I help you to find what’s holding you back, and beat it. So you can move into more ease in your work, and get the results you want.

image via Photo by Şahin Yeşilyaprak on Unsplash


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