A friend of mine called me out on something important last week. He said, “Mike, this ‘story’ you have about things being ‘hard’ for you isn’t really true. It seems to me that things come pretty easy, you just make them hard by saying they are. What if you started saying and owning that certain things come easy to you?”
As I heard him say this, I had a mixture of emotions and reactions. First of all, I felt grateful (I love having people in my life who are willing to call me out, even if my ego gets a little bent out of shape in the process). Second of all, I felt defensive and noticed that I wanted to justify myself against his challenge. Third of all, I felt a sense of fear and resistance to the idea of things coming “easy” to me.
As I’ve thought about it more over this past week ,I realize that this resistance to having things be easy runs deep within me (as it does for so many people I know and work with). Here are some of the main “reasons” I’ve used and beliefs I’ve held for many years to resist the notion of things being easy for me:
- Easy means lazy
- If things come easy to me, other people will get jealous, won’t like me, and/or won’t respect me
- It doesn’t really “count” or mean much if it comes easy
- It’s not fair for things to come easy to me – especially with so many people having such a hard time these days
- I actually get off on struggling and suffering – I’m quite familiar with it and I’ve used it as motivation to change and “succeed” for much of my life
- My ability to work hard, overcome adversity, and rise above challenges are all things my ego uses to feel superior to others
- If I admit that something is easy for me, it will seem arrogant and then people will root for me to fail
Can you relate to any of these?
Getting in touch with some of these reasons and beliefs has been both painful and liberating at the same time. As I think, talk, and write about them – I realize how ridiculous some of them are and how much of my life’s energy I’ve been giving to them in the process.
It’s almost like I’m walking around worried that someone’s going to say me, “Mike, you have it so easy,” and I’m preparing my defensive responses, “Oh yeah, well let me tell you how hard I work, how challenging things are for me, and how much stuff I’ve had to overcome along the way.” What’s up with this? It’s like I’m preparing for a fight that doesn’t even exist. Do you ever do that?
While working hard, overcoming challenges and adversity, and being passionately committed to important and complex things in our lives aren’t inherently bad – resisting ease and being attached to struggle causes me and so many of us a great deal of stress, worry, and pain. And, in many cases this difficulty is totally self-induced and unnecessary.
What if we allowed things to be easier? What if we started to speak about and own the aspects of our lives that are actually easy to us and stated to expect things to get even easier? Easy doesn’t mean lazy, that we aren’t willing to work in a passionate way, or that we expect a “free ride” – it means that we’re willing to have things work out, trust that all is well, and allow life to flow in a positive and elegant way for us.
Our desire and ability to embrace ease in our life isn’t selfish, arrogant, or unrealistic – it’s profoundly optimistic (in an authentic way) and can actually enhance our ability to impact others. The more energy and attention we place on surviving, getting by, or even “striving” for success – the less available we are to give, serve, and make a difference for other people. Although it may seem counter-intuitive to us, having things be easy is one of the best ways we can show up for those around us – both by our example and with our freed up positive energy.
As Richard Bach famously stated, “Argue for your limitations and they’re yours.” What if we stopped arguing on behalf of how “hard” things are, and started to allow our life to be filled with peace and ease? While the idea of things being easy may not be, ironically, the easiest thing for you to embrace – I challenge you (as I challenge myself) to take this on in your life and become more comfortable with it…maybe it could actually be easier than you think!