Some days it feels so much harder than others. And by "it" I mean everything in general, from getting out of bed in the morning to putting on a smiley, cheery face at the office to slogging through my workout to trying to move even a tiny bit ahead on a project. Some days it's just like pulling teeth to make it through and come out feeling like you gained any traction.
There's a part of my brain, a very loud, obnoxious part, that I like to call "hate brain." Hate brain is the voice that tells me, "Pssshh. No point in making any time for writing today, because your book is crap" or "Whatever, skip the gym, because it's not like it's doing you any good anyway." It can be so difficult to shut that part of the brain off and ignore it, especially when life is throwing a lot of stressful things at you. The hate brain is a powerful enemy, and it takes a ton of work to defeat it, work that is ongoing and never finished.
If you're like me and prone to worrying and overanalyzing, the hate brain can be a particularly dangerous foe.
Pushing myself is essential to fighting off hate brain. I make myself push ahead on the new writing project even though I'm afraid it won't live up to the hype in my head, and creating something new is really scary after spending such a long time with one book. I push myself in yoga, even though I haven't gotten a handle on crow pose yet - I keep trying in the hopes that one day the strength and agility will come. Sometimes the biggest pushes are about just showing up - showing up to the gym even when I'm tired, showing up to therapy even when I don't want to unpack my brain, showing up to social engagements even if I'm dying to stay home in my PJs and watch Breaking Bad.
It's all part of the journey, the struggle, and I know that many, many people have it way worse than I do. Many people cannot push themselves like I can when life is tough or stressful. They can't get off the couch, can't get dressed, can't fake it in public. I am lucky that I can do these things. Whatever it is that drives me even when I'm stressed or struggling, be it willpower or guilt, it's something I'm grateful for.
One thing I always think about is stretching. Usually, at the beginning of a workout or a yoga session, I'm tight and can't do something as simple as touching my toes in a basic forward fold. If I only tried once, I might feel like it was over - "That's it, I can't touch my toes, I give up." But giving up so soon would be such a mistake, because in every yoga class I attend, I find that each time I forward fold, it gets easier and I bend just a little deeper. By mid-class I can not only touch my toes, I can tuck my hands under my feet. It just takes a little extra reaching.
Theodore Roosevelt said, "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty...I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well." It's definitely true. There's beauty in the struggle, pride in the effort. You don't have to win to have won, so to speak - sometimes just showing up and working is plenty. My yoga instructor always says, "Being able to stand on your head doesn't make you a better person. It's not the final pose that matters, it's the journey." Never stop reaching, no matter how far away that headstand or spot on the bestseller list feels. Don't give up the journey.