Glennon Doyle is the author of Untamed, the book that became a rousing bestseller in 2020. She is the co-host of a podcast called We Can Do Hard Things. We do the only thing that has ever made life easier: We talk honestly about the hard. We laugh and cry and help each other carry the hard so we can all live a little bit lighter and braver, free-er, less alone.
Jennifer Nettles, lead vocalist for the duo Sugarland wrote a song titled I Can Do Hard Things.
Sometimes I don't like it
But that don't mean I don't love it
Sometimes I get down so low
But that don't mean I can't rise above it
The black-and-white video for this song, shows seven women giving us a glimpse into their lives. The personal "hard things" they overcome range from caring for the disabled and single motherhood to sexual assault.
Other examples of "hard things" in our lives are struggling with mental health challenges, unexpected illness: a cancer diagnosis, a stroke or heart attack or testing positive for covid. Often challenges involve relationship issues such as an abusive partner, a defiant teenager or sassy toddler, or a friend or family member who turns against you.
How can we learn to do the hard things that inevitably show up on our horizons? Here are 6 steps you can take that will help you to face your challenges head on:
ADMIT THAT YOU'RE SCARED, BUT THEN ACT ANYWAY.
Susan Jeffers has written a book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. If you are looking for practical suggestions on how to do hard things, this is the book for you.
Fear is a natural human reaction to the hurdles that we have to scale in our lives. Being scared does not have to result in inaction or defeat. We can be scared and brave at the same time. "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not the absence of fear" - Mark Twain.
TAKE BABY STEPS
When faced with an overwhelming task or challenge, try breaking it up into bite-sized chunks. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step" -Lao Tzu. This strategy involves an attitude of patience and determination. Nobody said that you have to do it all today. Getting started can be the hardest part of all, but then as you move forward, you start gaining momentum, and before you know it, the finish line will be in sight.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO MAKE MISTAKES
Part of being human involves the fact that we all make mistakes. Nobody is right all the time. The fear of making mistakes can be paralyzing and lead to indecisiveness, procrastination and avoidance of situations where failure is a possibility. One thing is
certain: A person who never made a mistake, never tried doing hard things.
Michael Jordan was someone who saw mistakes or failure in a positive light: "Failure is acceptable, but not trying is a whole different ballpark."
ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
Asking for help can make us feel stupid or incompetent. Somehow, we have developed the false impression that we have to do everything by ourselves. Independence and individuality are firmly entrenched cultural norms that often act as barriers to ask for help when we genuinely need it. It takes humility to admit that you need help, so swallow your pride and reach out for help when you need it. We are stronger together. Together we can do hard things!
BE A RISK TAKER
Being a risk taker is closely related to allowing yourself to make mistakes. It's daring to try something new, even if there's no guarantee of success. Being a risk taker is the willingness to step out of your comfort zone; to try something you haven't tried before. Rather than asking yourself what you could lose by doing something hard, ask yourself what you could gain by trying. Be curious. Ask yourself "Let's see what happens."
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
If you talked to your friends the way you talk to yourself, would you have any? We are very good at being harsh to ourselves with our self-talk. Give yourself a break! You're doing the best that you can. Self-compassion is vital to being resilient and brave. Doing hard things takes a lot of energy and hard work. Engage in crucial self-care. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually.
What are the hard things you are facing in your life right now? Admit your fears and struggles and go at a manageable pace. Recognize your shortcomings and don't be afraid to ask for help when needed. Take reasonable risks when necessary. But above all, be kind to yourself.
I can take the hard things in my life as the excuse for failure, or as the reason behind my strength and resilience.
I can do hard things!