“The only way to handle pressure is to apply it.”
Darrelle Revis

All my life I have struggled with laziness. An internal inertia that defies all logic, meditation practices, self-help books and seminars. It hits me when I’m in the middle of a work-flow, or just getting started on a project I’m excited about.

It comes in and I experience total shut down. I’ll try to power through, but it’s like trying to bicycle uphill while falling asleep. I might last a little while, but eventually I give up and click on YouTube or start doing puzzles.

I didn’t understand why until a few weeks ago (though I’ve spent years working on it), and the realization has created a subtle shift that grows more profound every day.

In last month’s newsletter, I shared that if you are willing to face potential pain head on, the experience of it is greatly reduced and you become limitless.

Following my own advice, I took several leaps and bounds forward in my business, the result of which led to hitting the brick wall of my own lethargy head on. And, for the first time that I’m aware of, I won and broke through to the other side.

Here’s what I learned in sequence:

1. First, there is pain. The conscious choice to face pain is what kept me going past my initial shut-off point. I recognized it when it came up as resistance to doing something that was uncomfortable in some way, i.e. painful.

Laziness is a way of muting or escaping discomfort, which really only exacerbates it in the end. It is ultimately far, far more uncomfortable to sit on the couch eating potato chips than to go jogging outside.

Knowing on a deep level that the only way I would save myself pain was to keep going was the first step.

Note: For some people they will feel anxiety here, either before or instead of pain. The cause is the same, and if it helps you identify you can replace the word “pain” with “anxiety”.

2. Then, there is pressure. I discovered the discomfort was a reaction to feeling pressure. Everything in life exerts pressure on us, from the force of gravity to our own thoughts. When we think about things we need to do, obligations to other people, and our goals they exert tangible pressure that can feel like a heavy burden.

The pressure may be seem unpleasant, but as I discovered discomfort is a reaction to the experience of pressure, not the reality itself.

When you let go of internal resistance to a task, the experience of pressure changes. The same gravitational weight that felt burdensome becomes inspiring. It can work for us the same way water moves faster when pressurized.

In fact, we need it to achieve things because without pressure – something pushing back at you – there is no connection with the environment or ability to manipulate reality. If things don’t have mass we can’t move them – whether it’s a physical object or our envisioned goals.

I would go so far as to say that the ability to withstand pressure is far more important to success than the ability to withstand pain. Pain is temporary, pressure is forever.

3. Last, there is freedom. I’m still lazy, but I no longer feel trapped by it. When “shut down” mode strikes, I’m able to understand exactly what my internal process is that’s causing it.

Sometimes it’s that I started thinking about a task too much, or started getting excited and made it into a “big deal”, i.e. scary.

Sometimes it’s as simple as being in the wrong work environment (e,g,, living room instead of office). Or that it’s not the “right time of day” for the project – I’ve conditioned myself to write in the mornings, and if I try to do it in the afternoon my brain will balk because I’m out of sequence.

I’ve discovered habits are the greatest cause of my resistance to pressure, even the good ones. Before I felt stuck in an impenetrable fog that blinded me to the details of why I was being lazy.

Now I can see and change the details. I’ve worked very hard on building good habits to this point but without being fully engaged, that is connecting to pressure, I couldn’t tell if they were working or not.

Not being afraid of pressure means I’m able to engage it now with very little discomfort. I found routine is an absolute necessity for me – before I thought it was one of those things that worked for other people but not me. However, I’m useless when it comes to doing morning tasks in the afternoon, or working outside of my designated work locations.

I don’t have to solve the great inertia that has held me back. I can simply focus on small things while being fully present to my dream. This lends the sense experience of success, because when action connects to vision via pressure, it feels like moving toward a dream in real time.

Then you experience power rushing through you, as small actions carry the potent force of gravity, and remove doubt about the achievement of your dream.

The bigger the dream, the more pressure it exerts and heavier it is. Spread the pressure out over numerous small tasks, routines, and habits, and it will energize rather than overwhelm you.

If you don’t know where to start, ask, “What makes it easier?” and move in that direction.