Picking the Path of Least Resistance

Picking the path of least resistance can simply be choosing thoughts and actions that feel good, rather than thoughts and actions that don't. Unfavorable thoughts cause us resistance and bad feelings, and even push us to avoid things we shouldn't.  This pod helps us connect between what we think and the resulting emotional response. Further, it helps us understand how easy it is to actually choose happier thoughts to feel better.

March 30, 2021
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long in features your hosts, JJ Parker, and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:18  
Alright, Melissa, I got my massive to do list that I've been building and there's like 100 things on it, and I just start plowing through it.

Unknown Speaker  0:29  
Haha. Right?

JJ Parker  0:30  
Do you work to do lists? Is this like a tactic you use to get things done?

Melissa Albers  0:35  
You know, it is a tactic. However, I have started to change my to do list a little bit. Hmm. Yeah,

JJ Parker  0:44  
I know some people that they're like, like, the to do list is like, you know, it's like the Bible. It's like, their entire being is structured around the to do list. And if they get to mark something off it, it's like glue. It's like they're high. Right?

Melissa Albers  1:03  
Do you know what? This is funny? That's actually a marker in personality traits of the high patient person.

JJ Parker  1:10  
Oh, really? Tell me about that a little bit. Yeah, people

Melissa Albers  1:11  
that have a high patience construct are very systematic and very methodical. They like to attach things to things in their own way in their own timeline. And they're very much interested in doing one thing at a time, if possible. Like, of course, we can't choose that in today's world. But that personality marker is one that really likes to have a systemized systematic approach to everything.

JJ Parker  1:39  
Interesting. So like, if you are low on the patient's construct, you don't really want to do unless you just kind of wander wherever you want,

Melissa Albers  1:51  
it looks more like a bunch of chicken scratch. Just saying.

JJ Parker  1:59  
So you probably never just put something on your to do list. Just that's easy just to mark it off. Because I would never do that. I just I do that on the weekends for fun. I would never, I would never,

Melissa Albers  2:15  
I would never do that. My daughter would though, she makes beautiful to do lists, they look like they just came right out on York Times. I mean, they've got little flowers and color coded and square boxes. And I mean, amazing, very intricate.

JJ Parker  2:34  
So the one thing I think is interesting about to do lists and even just like our general, like, you know, like whether you want to call it a to do list or just like the things that we know, we need to get done. Right? Yeah. Or like, for me, I think, like I do like the to do list. But what happens is, a lot of times, there's some things on that list that I just straight up avoid, like not for a day or a week, but sometimes they hang out there for like, a month, or I don't know, there's probably I'm still not quite done. With my deck out here at my house that I started 15 years ago, there's a couple little things on the to do less than I can to finish up

Melissa Albers  3:20  
real quick. I know this about you. Like we all know that. Yeah,

JJ Parker  3:28  
yeah. It just makes me wonder about, you know, the idea of what things are important and procrastination, and yeah, so I go home, the whole idea of like, what should you be doing and hard things and easy things and your tendency to pick one or the other?

Melissa Albers  3:46  
Right? I have been making a study in the last two years of taking the path of least resistance. And well, I think that applies also to these kinds of things like to do lists.

JJ Parker  4:02  
Okay, so that's sort of short circuiting my brain for a second guys. Like what I heard you say is like, I've just been trying to take the easy way the whole time. Like does Oh, can you do that? Is that an option? I didn't I actually didn't realize that that was an option.

Melissa Albers  4:19  
Well, at you know, what's funny is so when I say pick the path of least resistance, that's like a really deep and difficult thing to do at first. It's hard to do that at first. Yeah. When anybody hears path of least resistance, the first thing we think is lazy.

JJ Parker  4:37  
Yeah, easy way. Yeah. Isn't negative, like a negative connotation on it?

Melissa Albers  4:44  
Yeah. Let me show you my little spin. Let me give you my little spin.

JJ Parker  4:48  
Yeah, let me hear it.

Melissa Albers  4:50  
So I think that the path of least resistance picking the path of least resistance is way way easier for our human being spirits. our emotions, everything, I think it's way easier once we get into the framework of what it actually means. Because I think, you know, like, it can be something like our to do list. That's real. That's what we all experience all the time, right? It's like, I have a to do list, I don't want to do it, I have to get certain things done by Friday by noon or whatever. And a lot of times when we have to do something, we put it off. We don't like the energy or the feeling of that, right. Yeah. And then we end up waiting until the last minute and we feel terrible or mad or crabby, or, and or the outcome is just not very good.

JJ Parker  5:41  
My personal experience is I do my most brilliant work in extreme procrastination situations.

Melissa Albers  5:49  
I do my most see now, isn't it interesting. So in your mind, you kind of think that it's a little bit of your edge. Right? So you're totally sometimes me waiting until I'm taking the path of the most resistance actually creates the best work.

JJ Parker  6:04  
That's it? Yeah. Just kind of saying what when you were talking I, I was actually, the reason why I said earlier that like, like, I couldn't get my head around that ideas. Because I, I almost thought the opposite. Which, which is interesting, right? Like, tell me about I always I think, I usually think that the things that I have the most resistance to doing are the things I should be doing. Right? Like I use the resist that resistance, that idea that I don't want to do a thing as a guidepost of the thing that I actually should be doing.

Melissa Albers  6:49  
Right from the War of Art book.

JJ Parker  6:51  
That's it is from the War of Art. And, you know, the way he explains it is really great in that book. Yeah. But there's, I think there's an element for me, of usually the things that I don't want to do. Make, there's something there, right, there's, there's a reason underneath there lurking? Why I don't want to do it. And it's usually around. It's usually around like fear. Right, like, or uncomfortableness, or like, I haven't done it before. So I'm not confident, right? So it's around these kinds of emotions, that you know, those kinds of emotions cause that resistance for me,

Unknown Speaker  7:37  
right? Yeah,

JJ Parker  7:38  
yep. Yeah. But for me kind of as a creative, the things that that do make me uncomfortable, are the places that I should go, because that's where I'll grow the things that are comfortable to me. That's, that's routine that's like I can do that my sleep, why do I spend, why would I spend my time just doing the thing that I'm already good at? board is what I heard you say, that might be that might be

Melissa Albers  8:08  
so so that all of that is? Like, that's all the active work that we're doing in our brains, right? That's all those choices that we're making in the reactive state of knowing that there is something there for us to work on. So I think when I am referring to picking the path of least resistance, I'm actually referring to the step right before that. And what I mean by that, and then and I want to make sure that I say what you're talking about is very real. Like, I think a lot of people are in that space. And they're very cognitively aware that that's how they get stuff done. They wait until I do that, too. Like I'll wait until I'm right, where I have no choice, and then I'll make something and that but if I'm honest with myself, the end result of that I always feel more tired. It takes a lot from me to be that way. So for me, I'm talking about picking the path. I think picking the path of least resistance is deeper than just the thoughts of should I do this in one. To me, the path of least resistance can also be the emotional choices that we make. That path of least resistance can be thoughts that intersect with our feelings that make us feel good, or thoughts that intersect with our feelings that make us feel bad. So what I mean is like, choosing thoughts that feel good, cause less resistance inside of me. Does that make sense? So

JJ Parker  9:43  

Melissa Albers  9:44  
so let's say let's say I'm working, I have a big project at work. And I know I need to get it done. And I don't like that feeling. Or maybe there's someone on that team or maybe there's something about that project that I just don't really like I'll wait till the last minute and I'll get it done. But the point is the reason I waited till the last minute was because there were things in that that didn't feel good to me. Right. And so I chose a harder more resistant path by not only not feeling good about it not figuring out what it really was inside of me that was a causing that ruckus. I also waited to do it till the end, because it was just, I just couldn't make myself get in that headspace to do it.

JJ Parker  10:29  
Yeah, let me let me try that. Let me see if I'm tracking with you on this. Because, okay, I think maybe everyone's gonna, like this is a little bit. It is more conceptual. All right, then then some of the other things we talk about. So one thing I'm maybe heard you say is, and I was just trying to apply it to like, some projects that I work on, is sometimes things like your, like you said, feel like you have to do them. Right. So there's this, like, there's this pressure, and then you get in this headspace where it's like, like, I'm being forced to do a thing I don't really want to, and you've just kind of got this, like, natural urge to resist it. Right? Yep. But if you change that, like recontextualize it in a pretty easy way. And you actually get yourself into a space where it's like, Hey, I get to like, I've been afforded the amazing opportunity to have education and experience and I get to actually do this work. Yeah, yeah. Then you can turn it into something else. And that's, that's what your title, that's like a much less resistance. Yeah, mindset, then I have to, well, I get two is different than I have to

Melissa Albers  11:50  
exactly. Yes, that's exactly right. And let me give another example, that's maybe not so maybe now work related, like let's say, in your family structure, what if you're married, or you have a partner, and you know that your partner every Friday night, likes to go out to dinner somewhere. And the last thing that you want to do on Friday night is go out for dinner, because you're frightened, you're just tired, right? Like, that's the thing. Okay? So that's the thing.

JJ Parker  12:20  
Just agreeing with you as a as an experiencer. of

Melissa Albers  12:25  
so but there's things like that in our lives all the time. And so what happens is, we do it, we will do it, but we build up resistance, right? It's a resistance and and the energy then that we participate in that experience has some of that resistance energy attached to it. We just inside we're like, yep, we can do this. I'm going to steel myself to go out even though I'm exhausted. Because I know that that's really important to them. And I want to make sure I do that. I'm choosing thoughts that not only this experience is more hard for me because I'm tired. But I'm choosing thoughts that don't make me feel good. So the resistance is even more, I may have a tendency to be a little crabby, I might I might want to cut the evening short, I might want not want to drive 20 miles to the restaurant, I just want to drive to the one that's a mile from the house. I will create all these activities and these thoughts that are related to this feeling of resistance.

JJ Parker  13:24  
Yeah, yeah. So then from experience, that, that energy that you bring in that that that more negative energy with that resistance. Everyone else can sense it.

Melissa Albers  13:39  
Yes, I sense it, and you don't feel very good

JJ Parker  13:42  
now. And then the whole thing feels for us. So and no one really likes that. Right?

Melissa Albers  13:48  
Right. But But I'm particularly interested in how it makes me feel in this conversation. Because I am the one who's creating this. I'm the one who's creating all of these parts and pieces to create this level of discord inside of me. So what I mean like when I say I'm practicing the path of least resistance, what I mean is, if I'm going to choose to do something, I'm going to also choose the thoughts that feel good about that something. And it's, it sounds easy and trite and sort of like Pollyanna positive attitude whoo whoo. It's really hard to do that at first because our brains are very used to creating a ruckus. Mm hmm. So even if we make a decision to do something, I for me so often my brain will start you know, tearing that apart. Oh, well now you're gonna go to that you don't really want to Super muddy out you better make sure you wear the right shoes Because you know I'm all about the shoes. But but but but then I end up just not feeling good inside. Whereas if I say you know what, I am tired but I always enjoy this time and I don't get to have a A lot of time with my spouse. And this is a time even if we cut it short, it will feel good making that connection. Like, it'll be nice to just drive in the car together. Because we don't ever even do that. You know? It, it's just choosing the opportunities to make things feel easier. It's like an easier on ramp to everything that we do. And it applies at work, it applies at home. It's literally choosing thoughts that feel good. Over thoughts that make you not feel good and create resistance. Yeah.

JJ Parker  15:31  
Yeah, that's really interesting. I was just even thinking. Like, I like how you re put different contexts on. Yes, situation, right? My there's a situation it's coming. Yeah. And you're choosing the way you're gonna look at it. Instead of like, just letting your default state choose to kind of choose it for you.

Melissa Albers  15:55  
Yes, yeah. It's that practicing that awareness more and more every time that we can and, and like even at work with to do lists, so I am, I am famous for forgetting things, if I don't write them down, I don't even want to say that I have a to do list because it feels stressful. But I do have a messy list as as I can show you. stuff that I want to make sure that I cover right. But that list would be terrifying to somebody who's a list writer because it looks crazy town, right. But even with that list, I have to write that list out. I actually try to give myself more time now than I did before. So I was always I'm habitually waiting to the last moment I am habitually waiting till the last moment. I want to change that habit because it doesn't feel good. So I'm working on. And, and there are some days where I'm, I'm so busy. I can't, I can't do that. So if this isn't a judgment, you know, I'm not trying to be judgmental about myself. I'm just saying, you know, I know I have to do that proposal. And I should probably get working on it. Because I said I would have it done by the end of the weekend. It's Wednesday. But what I'll do now is I'll even just get it started, like what parts of it? Do I really want to make sure I don't forget, and I'll start writing it down. Cuz that's the path of least resistance, but then I don't really feel like finishing it. So I won't. That's the path of least resistance. Now I'm starting to sound nuts, but

JJ Parker  17:25  
it's weird. We are you already. So you certainly that's before you worry about it.

Melissa Albers  17:29  
Oh, good. I like that's very important for me.

JJ Parker  17:33  
Well, it's interesting to me that we there's like a bunch of things that kind of dovetail together here, right? Like this idea of procrastination. Like, I like to use procrastination as a superpower or as some people. It completely militates them. Yeah, say that word. It stops them. Right. And the other thing you said that i i think that's really interesting. And, and, and I'll use is that idea that? Hey, you don't have to finish it. Just start it. Yes. Start something just the like, the tiniest little step. Because a lot of times the the idea of starting something is so big and overwhelming. Yeah, that it completely stops you I know that's and if you can start it just the tiniest bit. That's all it takes. Yeah, yeah. Like getting over that hump. Sometimes that hump looks like a gigantic mountain with clips. But once you start it, you realize, Oh, actually, it's, it's just a little foot Hill. And I can just easily Yeah, like walk over it.

Melissa Albers  18:48  
And even even in the process of while you're creating, or just before you start to create, noticing the thoughts that you're using, and how they make you feel. That's it That's like, you know, are you are you saying, well, I got to get this project done. I just I hate this part of these projects. And this is going to take a long time. But I know it'll be fine. Once I get through it. Like that self that self talk is actually we think we're being encouraging for ourselves. But that's not encouraging. That doesn't sound encouraging at all. And it makes you feel kind of bad, and it creates more resistance. Whereas it's like, you know what, I'm really looking forward to being able to get this project done faster than I usually do. I'm looking forward to trying this different way to see if that helps. I'm really open to seeing if there's other ways to think about this while I'm in this process. And I certainly know that if I catch myself thinking these thoughts that don't feel good. I certainly know right in that moment, I can change it to a thought that feels better. So it's just getting in this internal practice. It isn't even to me. I'm not even worrying about what's happening outside like what the result is. Yeah, it's more of that internal piece.

JJ Parker  19:58  
I just had a thought like The idea that that self talk, right? We talk about self talk. And when you are looking at that mountain, and that resistance is really high, it would be interesting to just write down that your self talk, right, like right now on paper, and like, and just and then you can kind of like analyze it, like, what is what am I saying to myself here? And you're like, read it in your way?

Unknown Speaker  20:28  

JJ Parker  20:30  
what's the opposite of everything? Just maybe like, we'll make two columns. What I'm actually saying to myself, like what I want to be saying to myself,

Melissa Albers  20:40  
right, and using how you feel as the guidepost, right,

JJ Parker  20:44  
yeah. And so what yours, you know, what you're saying here is the path of least resistance. You know, like, when you start, when you start feeling the resistance, take a moment, stop, figure out what feelings are bubbling up for you. break them down a little bit, and then say, Hey, is this self talk, like helping me or not? Yeah. And if it's not helping you figure out how you're going to reap, contextualize that self talk into something else, which will then manifest the right feelings.

Melissa Albers  21:21  
That's, that's exactly very well stated, very well stated.

JJ Parker  21:26  
Well, that sounds easy. Let's all just start doing that. Problem solved.

Melissa Albers  21:30  
And I would say, here's the like, here's the golden ticket, like, here's why you want to come to this show, right? The reason you want to come to this show, is because things get way easier when we have that choice. And we all have these crazy head spaces. Like, I know, if I took a recorder, and I recorded all the thoughts that I have about myself when I'm doing stuff, I would be so embarrassed for anyone else to hear them. And I would never speak like that to anyone else. Right. And I also know, though, that we have beliefs, we have beliefs about ourselves, and beliefs are nothing more than the thoughts that we've been thinking over and over and over and over again. Right. So if we continually have those habitual thoughts, especially when we're trying to create, we now have a belief about it. Yeah. So like, if you want to get to that core, it's like, what is the what is the belief behind this, and I love that, like, anything that we can do to make it like more obvious for ourselves, like write stuff down, like take just a minute, and have that peace of awareness. I I just think it's really cool. I've had a lot of fun working on this the last couple of years, and I feel like I've made my life so much easier in so many ways as a result. So it's it's definitely fun to explore.

JJ Parker  22:43  
Yeah, for sure. I, when we started first started talking about this, I thought, we're gonna go in a different direction. This ended up because I thought actually, like when we talked about this, at first, I was like, I think I'm gonna argue with you about like to try to tackle the path of most resistance.

Melissa Albers  23:06  
Because that's when I get the most stuff,

JJ Parker  23:08  
right, because that's where I get the most tough. But, you know, if I reflect on that, the fact is, is that the reason sometimes I probably go after the most, like the hardest projects, is because like you said, I have a core belief of mine, that I should always be learning and challenging myself. Oh, so saying, that's why I go after those, like you said the other the easy, things are boring. The hard things are fun, for at least the ones that I know, like, will challenge me and and I always want to be in that growth mode. Yeah. I was talking to someone a few weeks back and just about playing tennis. And I told them, I always want to be the worst person on the tennis court. And they thought that was like the most insane thing. And I was like, No, because like, if I'm the worst person, that means I'm learning from all of these really good players. Or if I'm the best person, I'm just like, beating up on people that, like, you know, maybe I'm providing some summer teaching to them by smashing the ball past them. But no. But by the way, you explain it like one step deeper than where I was. Yeah. So that was that's really, that's like really helpful to think about. And yeah, I love that self talk stuff. Because, like you said, it's so powerful, and it really does shape our minds.

Melissa Albers  24:37  
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. We hope that you've enjoyed today's episode. Our mission is to help people become happier and more effective by gaining insight into their own thoughts and feelings. We'd love your support. First, share this podcast with anyone you think might enjoy it. Second, leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast site. This helps others discover the podcast so we can reach more people. And third, sign up for our newsletter at the self awareness journey.com. This will help us communicate better with you and build our community. Thank you so much for joining us in the self awareness journey. We'll see you next week.

Discussed in this episode

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Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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