We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

inner creative battle pogo resistance steven pressfield the enemy the war of art Aug 31, 2023

By Carol Woolum Roberts

If I remember correctly, my brother-in-law Kent used to refer to this Pogo comic strip in some of his Sunday morning preaching, and the point of the sermon was usually we are our own worst enemy.


If I am struggling with something, and thoughts are racing through my head, keeping me up at night, it is usually because I am my own worst enemy.

The enemy is us.

I was so glad when my friend Indy shared with our creativity group in the fall of 2021 about a book called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.

This is a book about “Winning the Inner Creative Battle”. 

Here are some of Pressfield's thoughts on resistance.

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It is our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris. Every sun casts a shadow, and genius’s shadow is Resistance. As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We’re not alone if we’ve been mowed down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here’s the biggest bitch: We don’t even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.

Pressfield, Steven. The War of Art . Black Irish Entertainment LLC. Kindle Edition.


We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.

In another part of the book, Pressfield talks about differences between an amateur and a professional.  This is the enemy I have been dealing with lately.  External criticism.  So much so that it keeps my mind racing.  It keeps me from getting to sleep.  And for me, it is often not what is said, but what is not said that gets me feeling the resistance.

An amateur lets the negative opinion of others unman him. He takes external criticism to heart, allowing it to trump his own belief in himself and his work. Resistance loves this.

The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality. Tomorrow morning the critic will be gone, but the writer will still be there.  Remember, Resistance wants us to cede sovereignty to others. It wants us to stake our self-worth, our identity, our reason-for-being, on the response of others to our work. Resistance knows we can’t take this. No one can.

The professional blows critics off. He doesn’t even hear them. Critics, he reminds himself, are the unwitting mouthpieces of Resistance and as such can be truly cunning and pernicious. They can articulate in their reviews the same toxic venom that Resistance itself concocts inside our heads. That is their real evil. Not that we believe them, but that we believe the Resistance in our own minds, for which critics serve as unconscious spokespersons.

The professional learns to recognize envy-driven criticism and to take it for what it is: the supreme compliment. The critic hates most that which he would have done himself if he had had the guts.

Pressfield, Steven. The War of Art. Black Irish Entertainment LLC. Kindle Edition.

This book has so many good reminders about the resistance we face on a daily basis.  Sometimes I lose sight of this and get lost in my thoughts.  But if I do the work, press forward on what I believe God wants me to do, and stay the course, that is what is important. 

I encourage you to find a copy of this book and read through it.  It may give you a different perspective on why you are not doing what you think you should be doing. 

It might be just the motivator to help you press ahead.




Are you feeling some resistance in your life?  How is it happening?


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