My dear friend Nadya from Spinach and Yoga posted a quote from Alan Cohen on instagram the other day about being a "hardaholic", basically a person who approaches things the hard way -often without knowing!!!
I have been thinking about this phenomenon a lot over the last days because it is something I observe a lot in my clients, in my friends, and in myself as well.
I think this issue is three-fold:
1. We are trained from an early age to solve complex problems (think about school) and so we expect that the right solutions and correct answers must be tricky -if not nearly impossible.
This leads us to obsess about potentially hidden problems and secret pitfalls, so we better tip-toe forward expecting to make a mistake any second.
2. We feel really good about ourselves if we are able to solve something really difficult. As if the answer to our problems would somehow carry more value or depth if the journey to getting there involved a lot of struggle and hardship.
Many of us hold on to an unconscious belief that struggle or self-sacrifice is noble and so we create problems or make situations harder than they are in the hopes that the reward will be grander.
Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to work very well and many women (and men too!) end up getting lost in the complexity of their self-exacerbated problems, ending up in immense frustration and/or the victim role from which it is hard to emerge.
3. Many of us are extremely hard on ourselves. We judge the way we look, what we have achieved, who we date etc. After a while of doing this our inner world is mirrored in our external world. When we are hard on ourselves (think: negative self-talk and limiting self-beliefs) we reflect those internal blockages onto our life problems. Our external life becomes exponentially more difficult if we are filled with mistrust and self-judgment towards ourselves.
So how can we begin to let go of this hardaholicism? In the quote my friend posted, Alan Cohen suggests:
How do you overcome hardaholicism? Begin by questioning your belief that what you find hard has to be hard. Ask yourself, “How much of this is hard because of the situation, and how much of it is hard because I am seeing it as hard or I am making it hard?” You might be surprised to find that struggle is the offspring of perception and projection more than reality. Then ask yourself, “If I were willing to let this be easy, how would I be approaching this differently?” If you can discover a vantage point even a bit freer than the one you have been holding, you will take a significant step from struggle to peace.
For the last year, I've had a quote up in my office -currently also the baby room- that reads "What if it was just easy?" and it has made a huge difference.
Whenever I find myself undecided, overwhelmed or clueless for how to approach a situation or problem, I reframe the situation by pretending like the solution is actually really simple.
What happens then is that my energy lightens, I can breathe better and see the situation with new eyes. As a result, dread can turn into motivation and that is really the first thing we need in order to get going.
An example from my life recently is breastfeeding. There were many moments in the beginning when I thought it was so challenging and difficult (not to mention painful). As a consequence, I was all tense and frantically read about 100 BF articles online without much improvement.
So I remembered my own advice and thought about how I would act differently if breastfeeding was easy: I would be relaxed, taking deep breathes, sitting in my favorite corner in my couch, allowing myself and Felix time and space to get a hang of it without feeling rushed and frantic. I wouldn't resist the fact that breastfeeding at first can be painful and that that's just normal. I would flexibly try out different breastfeeding positions to find one that worked best for us. And guess what happened? As soon as I relaxed, Felix relaxed too and we soon settled into a good routine.
I cannot tell you how many times taking the what-if-it-was-just-easy appraoch has come in handy in my business, in my relationship, and most recently in my journey into motherhood. Approaching life with the expectation that the solution is at hand and the answer might just be simple has lifted tons off my mental shoulders.
I cannot tell you how many times this has come in handy in my business, in my relationship, and most recently in my journey into motherhood. Approaching life with the expectation that the solution is at hand and the answer might just be simple has lifted tons off my mental shoulders.
So remember love:
1. Great solutions are allowed to be simple.
2. There is nothing noble about self-sacrifice.
3. Be kind and gentle with yourself and the world will become an easier place as well.