Dorota, I want this (i.e. a new job, career path, clients etc.) very much, but it is too difficult. This is one of the most common sentences I hear from my coaching clients. Therefore I decided to make a blog around this topic and to look closer into the ‘it is too difficult’ phenomenon while giving you some directions on how to get around this.
Does it also happen to you, that you say to yourself: it is too difficult?
So you want to change your career, get a new job or loose some weight but than you think to yourself, ‘Ohh no, it is too difficult. It is not going to work’.
What does it actually mean when you say ‘it is too difficult’. Most of the time it equals to ‘I am not going to do that’. In other words ‘because it is difficult I have a legitimate reason why I am not going to do that’.
My yoga story
But the question I would then have for you is ‘Why should it be easy?’ If it is easy would it than still be worth trying?
Personally, I also hear every now and than my inner voice saying: it is too difficult, don’t do it, do not even try. I have especially experienced this when practicing Yin yoga. In Yin yoga you need to stay in a certain pose for at least couple of minutes 5, 10, 15 or more. These poses are often the ones that in the beginning seem very easy. So the first time I have joined the Yin yoga class the teacher told us to stay in the child’s pose. The first minutes were really easy and I was thinking to myself ‘ohh this is really easy and relaxing’. Soon after that my mind was already drifting away and my body started protesting. My knees started to ache, my hips where stiff and painful, and I felt blood pulsing in my head. Then I heard the voice of the teacher “4 more minutes”. 4 more minutes!!! No it is too difficult, too hard, too painful. I changed the pose.
After doing it a couple of times I realized that this simple yoga exercises has a direct link to other situations in my life and in the life of my clients. When something begins to feel uncomfortable I want to quickly get out of it, change it so that I would not feel pain, discomfort etc. When practicing Yin yoga more and more often, which now is my favorite yoga style by the way, I discovered that I can also give in. Give in to the pain, discomfort by not fighting it but by taking a breath, relaxing and giving in to it. What a liberating experience this was, as I have also realized that I can apply in other situations in my life. I have discovered that I can go beyond my momentary discomfort, which at a certain point stops being felt as discomfort.
So which life situations cause you to say: it is too difficult? Which steps are you avoiding to take as it means that it might get uncomfortable in the beginning? Take a piece of paper and write down your story when it was too difficult but you still went for it and did it. What did you do? How can you use this knowledge to achieve more goals and dreams in your life?
Thorn apart pain and pleasure
There are two huge forces that drive most of our behavior and decisions in life: seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. In this quest we are also short-term focused and therefore the following is most of the time true:
- We will choose for short-term pleasure instead of long-term pain or pleasure. This explains why we would eat a fat cake (short-term pleasure) when on a diet (long-term pleasure – being slim / long-term pain – sickness).
- We will choose to avoid short-term pain above long-term pain or pleasure. This explains why we would avoid starting working on a difficult part of work (book, article, email etc.) (short-term pain) when trying to achieve an important goal (long-term pleasure).
Having said that, short-term, we will always choose to avoid pain above seeking pleasure. This is thanks to the fact that our brain is predominately focused on survival. Everything else comes on second place. Avoiding pain is the simplest way our ‘reptile brain’ tries to save us.
The problem is that all BIG things that we want to achieve in life: a new career, loosing weight, sporting, realizing dreams are on the other side of pain. Meaning we have to go through short-term pain to realize our long-term goals in order to get to long-term pleasure.
By saying ‘it is too difficult’ – our brain is quickly doing the work for us and it immediately connects the steps that need to be taken to the pain and our brain starts to protest and sabotage our efforts.
Time for action
So what can you do in order to realize our long-term goals that we aim for?
- Re-label from negative to positive ‘it is too difficult = it is going to be painful => so I am not going to do that’ into ‘it is difficult = it is going to be a new learning experience => let’s go for it’.
- Be aware that it is your brain playing tricks on you.
- Be aware of your patterns, analyze situations when you stop working on your long-term goals and go after short-term pleasure (procrastination is its other name).
- Get in charge of your life – by taking control over small (unpleasant) steps first and making sure you do them.
- Treat yourself on something fancy once completed a difficult or painful task. This way you will be in charge of a short-term pleasure which will not spoil you working on your long-term goals.
- Practice positive thoughts, this will lead to positive beliefs and this into positive habits.
- Everyday ask yourself ‘what have I done today to get me closer to my big goal?’.
- Forgive yourself if you haven’t done anything on that day and the next day start again!
- Surround yourself with positive people who are also aiming for their own big goals. Ask them for support if you are going off-track.
Let me know what are your ways to keep you stay on the track and what is your best strategy to beat the ‘it is too difficult’ phenomenon.