Self-Loathing is a Subset of Resistance: All Honor to Laura Ritchie and Steven Pressfield


I was inspired reading Laura Ritchie’s response to Horton and Freire’s book, We Make the Road by Walking.

One of my creeds is to honor the work of others. Just as she honors Freire’s, I honor hers. I don’t believe in absolute one-for-one reciprocation, but pretty close. I try as best I can to honor what others are trying to do. Especially if it inspires me. If I feel something, I am duty-bound to let them know.

I responded to her words by annotating. You can go there and do the same.  Infinite play, play for its own sake, has always seemed like a good way to do justice to the work of others.  I made some image quotes, some visual poetry, some gifs with sounds, and I shared some links.  I hope I didn’t go overboard, but it felt right, especially Laura’s quote from Stravinsky.

This reminded me of Steven Pressfield’s idea of Resistance .  Where Stravinsky regards this force as a prerequisite to action, Pressfield personalizes it into a seemingly malevolent force of self-loathing.

Resistance in both cases is a force, often a shadow force as Jung would have it.  I have always loved Pressfield’s personification of Resistance.  I see it in the character of Gollum in Tolkien’s Ring trilogy as well as in Fight Club with theTyler Durden/Unreliable Narrator.  I see it in the Joker/Dark Knight and in any manifestation of the Loki the Trickster.  It seems to be a recurring motif in many cultures.  I trust its universality. I trust Pressfield.

The good news is that because self-loathing is only an avatar of Resistance it’s very presence also indicates that there is also a valid Dream present.  The Dream is the substance and Resistance is it’s shadow.

There is a catch. Awareness of Resistance does not banish it. Awareness that self-loathing is ‘self-sabotage’ doesn’t magically make it disappear. Our fate is to fight every day to overcome.

No mistake. We have done something here according to Pressfield. We have turned self-loathing into a good thing. It has helped us identify the Dream.
Or as Pressfield puts it,
So the next time you hear that self-loathing voice in your head, remember two things: One, that voice is not you. It’s not your thoughts. It’s Resistance. And two, it’s a good sign because it tells you there is a powerful, original Dream close by. The answer? Identify that dream and act to bring it into realization.
Every day that I write is a struggle against the forces of Resistance and especially the self-loathing of the writer in me. Writers like Laura Ritchie and Steven Pressfield help me realize I still Dream the writing Dream.  Thanks to you both.


*Here are my notes on the Pressfield article I refer to above.


  1. // Reply

    Thanks for pointing me to Laura’s article. I commented and posted in the annotation.

    I think this idea of “self loathing” is the focus of the second “ask” in “The Lord’s Prayer”. When it says “forgive us our trespasses” I think it’s telling us to forgive ourselves for all the ways we don’t live up to the dreams and expectations we have for ourselves.

    If we’re not able to do this we become paralyzed by self pity and self loathing” and cannot do anything good for ourselves, or for others.

    I wrote about this a few times on my blog in the past. Here’s an article from 2008 when I was still leading the Cabrini Connections program in Chicago.

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