My disability provides many minute-to-minute challenges in my life. There are some activities I can’t do without help. There are some activities that take me more energy. There are some activities that take more time and more money.
I always felt awkward calling my life hard. I have amazing people in my life. I grew up and live in a bustling part of California. I have never experienced hunger, abuse, rejection, and other hardships in my life.
The word “hard” implies that something is complicated, cumbersome, and limiting. The word “challenge” has a slightly different connotation. It means something that you can take on, something that has more of a path, something that has rewards at the end. So often human beings mistake hard with challenging. When you assume something is hard, you assume that it will stop you. When you assume that something is challenging, it’s easier to take on.
In our daily lives, we have to perform activities that we just don’t want to do. One way to accomplish these activities is looking at them as challenges rather than something that is hard.
A common example is calling customer service. Many view calling customer service as hard. This suggests that it’s going to be an arduous, unpleasant situation. We assume that we are going to be left on hold, encounter the rudest person on the other end, and when we hang up we won’t have resolved our issue. Although this happens from time to time, most of the time it’s not that bad. It’s just a challenge that we have to take on, but it’s probably not the hardest thing that we have to do today.
Part of the reason we think something is hard is that it can be emotional. Your emotions can make you believe that something is more challenging than it really is. When we attach the word hard to it, we make it more challenging.
I could easily have the narrative that it is hard to deal with my disability. You could have the narrative that going to the gym, reading a book, or having a tough conversation is hard. However, if you have the narrative that these things are just a part of your amazing journey, then you take the emotion out of the situation and make your life easier.
If you are in a less than ideal situation, you are probably spending more time and more energy dealing with your situation than actually making your situation better. If you focus your energy on making the situation better, eventually you will have to use less energy dealing with it. If you are arguing with your spouse all the time, you are spending energy fighting. If you take that same energy to fix the issues, it might feel challenging. However, after a while, you are not spending all the energy fighting.
Life becomes hard rather than challenging when people constantly have to put out fires they started instead of trying to prevent fires. If a parent did not set boundaries early or an entrepreneur did not properly set the foundation of the business, then they built something on a faulty foundation. At some point there may be fissures in this foundation. This can make life feel hard rather than challenging.
We often lump negative emotions in with the idea of hard. Part of the reason we don’t pursue the right path or make the right decisions is that we don’t want to experience the negative emotions coupled with the decision.
When you go after your goals it is likely that you will experience fear, anxiety, being uncomfortable, and other negative emotions. These emotions are just natural and most people experience them. Dealing with these emotions is challenging. However, having to deal with these emotions should not be confused by being labeled as being hard.
Being uncomfortable and other emotions are just a natural part of any journey of success. If you categorize these emotions as being hard you diminish your chances of actually pursuing success.
Everyday my challenges are physically taxing. Some activities take up to ten times more physical effort than others. Talking, using the restroom, getting in and out of my chair are all examples of activities that sap energy. However, I just accept it and understand it’s just something I have to do.
Sometimes the emotional part of my disability is equally or more taxing than my physical challenge. Constantly asking for help, knowing that I exhaust others in my life, being embarrassed and wondering what my disability took are all examples of the emotional challenges that I have to face.
One reason I feel awkward about using the word hard is I like to reserve that word for people who are dealing with stuff that is not even on my radar. Losing a child, dealing with abuse, and being in a war zone are reserved for the word hard. When I use the word hard, and I do sometimes slip up, I feel that I am not respecting the struggles of others.
We can argue about semantics; however, when you use the word hard instead of challenges you are admitting defeat.