Sometimes life dumps us into a place so tough and spiky, so unpleasant – so stressful, that we wish with the force of a great hurricane that it would be over; we would never in a million years choose to feel so uncomfortable. I’m talking about doing hard things, things so far out of our comfort zone that ‘yes’ would not be an option.
The truth is, most of our life we try to avoid this kind of discomfort. We don’t want to feel vulnerable, scared, foolish or rejected, so we get very good at defending the safe choices we make. The crazy thing is, the hardest things you will ever do will be the greatest gifts you ever receive. The gifts of growth, wisdom, empathy and, if you can truly embrace it, compassion for yourself.
We can’t choose this gift of hard things though, and you won’t see the gift as you battle through – not one little bit. Nor can you have a look, or give it go; that would be like popping into ‘hell’ to take a peek. I’m pretty sure viewing ‘hell’ from the stands isn’t quite the same.
The only way to receive this gift is to be ambushed by naivety, optimism, greed, misfortune or a really convincing human. And when you are, you’ll wail, blame, bitch and gnash your teeth as you live through the experience.
In times gone by, these gifts, trials or rituals were part of life; tests so arduous that they broke the child and returned the adult. Not so much now; we tend to protect our youngsters from failure and pain and in the process, strip them of that inner strength that shines through in those who have been tested.
When we do hard things (really hard things) we discover who we are, and there is no shortcut. No one can build muscle for you, nor develop the discipline to carry on. No one can show you the depths of your strength and resourcefulness. This can only be forged in the fires of life as we face the worst and say, ‘bring it on!’
Once the hard thing is done and you are worn, battled and bruised, don’t dwell on the ruins and the what ifs, the bits that didn’t work. Peek inside your heart and you’ll see a fire of knowing burning there; a new strength, wisdom and empathy that cannot be taken, borrowed or stolen – it is yours now, to have forever.
Most of us mere mortals can’t choose hard things because our defences are too well learned; our conscious mind will step in and shut us down. If you want a bigger life and to face the sneaky fear that keeps us small, say ‘yes’ when you’re not sure and if you are very, very lucky, you may find yourself stuck in the middle of a very hard thing.
Paula Gosney is a coach, businesswoman and creator. Starting the first of her three successful businesses at 21, she discovered along the way a great talent for helping others catch sight of their potential. beliefschool.com