Before you read on, a similar version of this post is available as podcast Episode 25 - We Can Do Hard Things. And if you're a little like me, you'll enjoy sipping on tea as you take in each written word.
I recently received my blue belt in jiu-jitsu. If you're unfamiliar with BJJ, check this out. (yep, that's me!).
Since then, I've been reflecting on how I got here. I'm always intrigued by the ways our desires come into fruition, especially as a woman who once had no reverence for or understanding of her own (desires).
Before I began my BJJ journey, there was a part of me who was intensely afraid of being a loser; being seen as one, perceived as one and being an actual one.
This 'loser' part of me is a part of me that I had abandoned and rejected. I not only denied that I was a loser, I also went to great lengths to ensure that I would never be seen as one.
My 'loser self' had been suppressed as a result of past experiences and BJJ had opened up a portal for her to reveal herself. And not only did she reveal herself, she was loud.
The more I ignored her, the more 'tough' I became. As if becoming more of the opposite would somehow polarise and shut down her energy. It did not. She simply became louder the more I did BJJ, and what she had to say was far more beautiful than my deep rooted fear of 'they won't accept or love me if I am a loser.'
The more I put myself inside experiences that challenged my shadow, the more light I generated for her.
I was always an over-achiever growing up. I got my first job when I was exactly 14 years and 9 months (the earliest age to commence employment here in Oz) and I excelled at everything I tried. No challenge was too much for me and I always believed I could be great.
This kind of thing is a really great way to be seen, heard and loved as a young kid. For me, it was how my parents showed love (through being proud and adoring). I always knew if I was striving and achieving, I would be loved.
And so being a loser wasn't an option. At least not to my mere baby brain. I attached my most basic human needs to doing well and doing it perfect (for another post).
What we know about the shadow is simple. To become whole, is to embrace your darkness. And your darkness includes that traits you swore off as a result of being shamed, judged, criticised or rejected earlier in life.
In high school, my confidence was all but bullied out of me. Before I was rejected and judged for being 'too full-of-myself', I was allllll about myself and the things I loved. I loved the way my body looked, the music I listened to, the way I dressed, the emotions I felt and the people I chose to hang around.
The experience of being taunted for my confidence led me to suppress it. I made sure I was never too much and therefore forced the opposite; a quiet, reserved, not-too-loud, good girl. And if I was to express anything outside of this, I would feel ashamed of myself for being too much.
I noticed in BJJ that I was also having a hard time harnessing my confidence. Low and behold, another shadow. A light shadow, a trait that is in most instances considered a good one.
Exhale! I know, this is a lot. For me too, love.
To fully heal and enjoy BJJ, I had to embrace the part of me that is in fact, a loser, and I had to harness and respect, love and appreciate my confidence.
And this led me to create my 'We Can Do Hard Things' framework.
THE UNNECESSARY HARD
In this instance, the unnecessary hard was suppressing my confidence and loser-self. The act itself of ignoring their presence and avoiding or evading them, or denying them from existence, perpetuated my suffering.
I would lose my shit and feel immense shame if I couldn't get it right
Choosing this path meant that I would be responsible for co-creating unnecessary hardship for myself. And I certainly did exactly this for many months.
The unnecessary hard grabs us by the balls when we're both fully and not fully aware of its grip. It's what we choose to do with this knowing that ultimately pulls us out of unnecessary hard and into the necessary hard.
THE NECESSARY HARD
The necessary hard then became, embracing, loving and accepting my confidence and loser-self.
Necessary because prolonging my suffering was the alternative and, because embracing a part of myself that I'd rejected for many years, was an act of hard (albeit a necessary one for wholeness and inner peace).
Embracing the necessary hard does not mean there are days where I choose to ignore my loser-self and move out of integrity. Oh yes, those days exist.
The difference now, is that I'm fully aware of it and I can re-choose love in any given moment and forgive myself. Period. I no longer unknowingly or knowingly prolong my own suffering.
WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE
What we don't know or can't see about ourselves, is often contributing to our unnecessary hard. And we cannot transmute that which we cannot consciously see.
The hardship and suffering we experience as a result of not being consciously aware of it, is not an unnecessary hard. It is a necessary hard because the lesson is pending and it may or may not come into fruition. It's necessary because we do not know what we do not know.
The hard is only unnecessary if we are aware of it. If there is light being shone onto it. If we are consciously aware of it, or somewhat suspect it.
I will always invest in teachers, healers and coaches for this very reason. Just as I am able to see my client's through an objective lens, so do my teachers see me through theirs. We are able to bring to the light that which is contributing to our everyday suffering and necessary and unnecessary hard. What an incredible gift to receive in hardship and to give in contribution, ay?.
YOU ARE A LOSER, TOO.
It is part of our human experience to wander through the dark and experience tough and challenging times. And let me be clear, you do not need to dig into your past to 'find' how or why you do things.
I will always remind you that your most valuable asset is your self-awareness, and to trust where it leads you.
And if you are afraid to be seen a certain way; who are you as a result of that fear? And what is that trait you're suppressing as a result?
The answer is always, more love.
Your words and stories are the greatest gift and I am always inspired to receive them. If you found this written story touching or profound, please screenshot and tag me on IG.