WE CAN DO THE HARD THINGS
A story about grace
We’ve seen this poster everywhere. It’s in our rehab departments, our schools, counsellor offices, child development programs. It’s pervasive in social media.
This isn’t a retraction from the message. It’s a clarification. Yes, We Can Do The Hard Things…with support. We can do the Hard Things with the right mental preparation. We can do the Hard Things with the right structures in place to assist our success.
What we can’t do is keep expecting everyone to just push through and do the Hard Things, without an impact to their mental health.
We (TherapyWorks) see a large number of children, youth and adults who have legitimate struggles doing the Hard Things, even though everyone who knows them believes they have the capability of tackling that task. Why is this happening?
Anxiety, executive functioning challenges and demand avoidance are real things and, individually or collectively, they are not an intentional action to stop your child from doing their chores. They are not an intentional action to prevent that adult from stopping their gaming and clean their living spaces. They are not an intentional action that prevents that middle management executive from taking that next step to build their network and expand their career.
Doing the Hard Things requires a baseline of mental and physical energy. Some people have big challenges with keeping mental energy for the routine demands of daily living, so Hard Things get pushed aside in the struggle of "getting by".
Like people with diabetes, the goal is to keep the sugar levels stable throughout the day. Different activities affect sugar levels and can cause peaks and valleys. Hard Things are like this. Hard Things cause dips in energy.
Sandwiching the Hard Thing between a preferred activity that is energizing and regulating for the person can help maintain that energy level. Adjusting expectations for the day to release some energy to save for the Hard Thing can be helpful. Taking micro breaks during the day to raise energy may help with the Hard Thing.
Sometimes one piece of the Hard Thing might be outside of that person’s ability. Breaking down tasks help to better understand where the hurdle is. That’s the point where external help and assistance might create success.
The most important thing about getting through the Hard Things is giving yourself, your child, your spouse or someone you are working with validation for their struggle, supports that they need to be successful and grace when they just can’t get to that Hard Thing today. Lots of times, there is another day when that person can feel more readiness to Do the Hard Things. Some days the just need grace.