Purpose & Dreams

Episode #331 – You’re not Doing it Wrong – It’s Just that Hard

February 27, 2024

I’m Cherylanne.
I am the trusted advisor ambitious women want in their corner to help them fully embody their potential.
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In this episode, Cherylanne talks about those moments in life when we think, “This shouldn’t be this hard, right?” Get ready for an honest exploration of the challenges we face as women.

Cherylanne shares her personal experiences, offering insights that will make you feel seen and understood. It’s time to shift your perspective and realize that the struggle is all part of the journey.

Get excited to connect with other women, feel empowered, and find the strength to face the day ahead. Tune in now!

Show Highlights:

  • Do you know why the beginnings are always difficult? 02:30
  • How to conquer the temptation of giving up. 04:48
  • Discover why the real picture is often not publicized. 06:02
  • The reasons we aren’t having the most important discussions. 07:14
  • How does the potential fear of scaring or boring others impact us? 08:32
  • Is the fear of vulnerability holding you back? 09:38
  • Learn about the skewed perspective created by half-truths. 10:33
  • The difference between sympathy and empathy. 11:45

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Welcome back to the show, my friends.

I was inspired to write this episode by this refrain that seems to run through my head on repeat when I am doing something that is irritating me or agitating me or feels particularly difficult. Maybe you have heard yourself saying the same collection of words, and it goes something like this: “This shouldn’t be this hard,” right? I’m here; I am in my head trying to convince myself that whatever I am doing I must be doing wrong because it definitely should not be this hard, right? Keeping a kitchen clean shouldn’t be this hard; taxes shouldn’t be this hard. Figuring out how to communicate with our health insurance company definitely should not be this hard, that one I might be right about. You know, and listen to all the ways we say going back to school in midlife shouldn’t be this hard; working two jobs back when we were young shouldn’t be this hard. You know, getting people to volunteer shouldn’t be this hard. But who says that it shouldn’t be this hard because more often than not in my experience, and maybe in yours, it actually is right now.

Not the finish lines. The finish lines are always fun. I am relatively competitive by nature. Don’t ask my husband or children about that, or they will tell stories about me, but I’m relatively competitive. Finish lines are awesome, right? I love reaching a finish line of any kind, but especially when we are doing something that we’ve never done before and we are at the beginning of that experience or in the middle. It definitely feels hard, right? The beginning is what it’s almost always like, awkward and uncomfortable, and we just, it’s so clunky to try to get the wheels in motion. In the middle, the middle is messy, right? You’re sort of stuck somewhere in between. Why did I do this and am I ever going to finish, and we wonder why everyone around us is only talking about those glorious finish lines. So think about this for a second. Literally runners, if you know any runners—I used to run all the time, it was my favorite form of fitness. I ran short distances; I ran long distances. And once I finally identified as a runner, I wanted to talk about it all the time. What runners talk about, basically two things: races and PRs, right? We are super excited when we have a race that we just finished, and we are super excited to tell you if we were lucky enough to PR, which is setting a personal record. If you’re not a runner, I don’t think I even knew what that was before I started running.

But what we don’t talk about is what it feels like on the first day we lace up those running shoes and we can’t breathe after 3 minutes or 5 minutes, right? When our knees hurt and our thighs hurt and everything is just screaming at us like, what are you doing? This is so clearly wrong. Runners are not talking about that moment, right? They’re not talking about the toenails that they lost because they were wearing the wrong size shoes for months of training. True story, something that actually happened to me when I was training for my first marathon. I bought my normal shoe size thinking that’s what you did, and in fact, runners know you typically size up at least a half a size because you need room for your toes, because they’re going to get smashed against the front of your shoes a lot, so those are the things that maybe inside of running circles, people are talking about. But if you’re the new runner like I was who’s trying to just build your mileage in private because you don’t want anyone to know that you’re struggling so much, you know, maybe you’re on a treadmill. Maybe you’re on a trail near your house or just in the streets in your neighborhood, and you’re thinking what is going on? Why is this so hard? And you don’t have a community yet of other runners to talk about it with, the temptation, of course, is that you’ll quit, right? You’ll give up because you’ll think I am the only one who is having these crazy problems.

Entrepreneurship, another arena that I know a thing or two about, 14 years in. Successful entrepreneurs talk about their company’s growth. They talk about milestones like, hey, the new website went up, right? Or the packaging is finalized or we closed a round of funding. But they’re not talking about all of the things that are happening along the way. They’re not talking about how the website went down multiple times at critical junctures. They’re not talking about the sleepless nights wondering how they’re going to keep their cash flow positive during those early days, wondering if I can afford to pay for marketing or do I need to pay for people or do I need to get space to put these people in the sort of constant financial decisions that are happening. And they’re not talking about the number of times that they think about quitting and going back to getting a “normal” job, like “normal” people.

But if you’re in circles of entrepreneurs, you know that those experiences are absolutely normal. You know that those thought patterns are common, right? But again, it’s not what’s out there being publicized broadly. You know, married people, I’ve been married now for a very long time, at 23 years and counting, and married people don’t necessarily talk about the times that they didn’t speak for three days, right? They don’t talk about the little idiosyncrasies that they’re navigating with each other. They don’t talk about the major discussions that they forgot to have before they got married and had to have 10 years in or 15 years in.

Instead, they’re posting pictures of their anniversary or you know, hashtag married life and like all these sweet moments. And if you’re standing on the outside of that or you’re new in your marriage wondering why is this so hard and you don’t have a community of people who are being honest, you can be convinced that you’re doing it wrong. All of this is because we’re so conditioned to talk about the things that we’re proud of, maybe even the things that we think other people want to hear and not, as my old boss used to call them, the really really you know, the really reallys are not always the easiest thing to talk about. In fact, I think they do three things. First of all, they can scare people, right? It’s like giving horror stories to the people we’re actually trying to help. Someone tells us, hey, I’m getting married, and we’re like, hold on, sit down and let me tell you what you’re about to embark on or hey, I’m so excited I’m going to start this business. We’re not going to unleash all the difficult things that they may have to navigate on day one because we know that we could scare them, and what’s buried in that message is that we also know it’s worth it, right? We know that even though the reality might be scary that it is worth it, that the journey is worth it, and so we hold back on telling those pieces of the story. Not always helpful; I’m going to get into that. But I think there’s kind of good intentions behind it. The second.

Thing that makes us hold back on the really reallys is they might bore people, you know. Part of my job is to create Instagram content. You know, people in my position have to create content for Instagram these days so that you, the listener, and the people in our community sort of know what we’re up to, and the reality is sometimes that is a struggle because the repetitiveness of my day in and day out life would be boring to watch on the internet. How many times do you want to see me sitting at my desk? And so I was talking to the marketer on my team and saying, God, I just don’t even know what to post most of the time because how many times do people need to see that I make dinner every night, you know, I sit at this desk every day? I spend time with my kids. I spend time with my husband. Like most of us have a lot of repetition in between the highs and the lows. And I think the reason we don’t talk about them is we just think they’re boring. And the third reason that I think sometimes we hold back on the really reallys is that we think they’ll make us look bad. You know, hello vulnerability and reputation risk. We are so concerned or maybe concerned isn’t even the right word. Maybe we’re just aware that some of the reality of the situation is unflattering, that people might hear the truth behind all of the ups and downs of our lives, and it could make us look bad.

Right? Or it actually does make us look bad. And so that really touches that nerve of vulnerability. We have to summon so much courage to be able to share the parts of our story that aren’t so shiny, right? That aren’t so fit for public consumption. But the downside of this, the downside of not being willing to scare people or bore people or make ourselves look bad from time to time is that we’re giving the world this skewed perspective, right? They’re getting sunshine and roses, not none of the visibility that they may benefit from to the work to the effort, to some of the mess, you know, behind the scenes, to the mundane repetition that’s involved in just consistency. And if we’re not willing to scare people or bore people or make ourselves look bad, then we can’t really help anyone because normalizing these experiences is what helps people feel less alone, right? Just inspiring people isn’t enough; we need to equip them for the journey. We have to be honest with them so that when the going gets tough, they have what they need to sustain their effort. And I was thinking about this, you know, when there’s a very common reaction when someone is struggling that we say, I’m so sorry, right?

And we don’t mean we’re apologizing. We’re saying I feel so bad, right? I’m so sorry that this is happening to you. And that technically is sympathy, right? Sympathy is when we say I’m so sorry that this is happening to you. I feel sad on your behalf. But sympathy can leave people feeling alone, right? We can create an inadvertent hierarchy where we’re sort of above them expressing sympathy to them. And I’m going to contrast that with empathy. Empathy is where we’re saying I know how you feel, me too, right? I’ve been there, and they know they are not alone. Now we can’t always offer empathy because we haven’t always been in the situation that the person we’re interacting with is in. Some of the places I personally know that I can offer empathy at this point in my life. It’s like if you’re telling me marriage is hard, I’m going to tell you I know marriage, it’s hard, right? Leaving a corporate career where you are successful and you have built a lucrative income and you have bonuses and options and all the things, right? And you have prestige. That’s hard. Owning a business is hard, right? Infertility, hard. Years navigating a serious long-term illness with a family member, hard work, parenting. So freaking hard, right? These are things that I personally can say, like me too, I know the pain, I know the challenges, I know the mess of those chapters. And in our community in the Brilliant Balance Coaching community, it is so powerful to hear members of the community expressing empathy to one another, coaches on my team expressing empathy to women who are in our community about things like job loss, right? Job loss is hard. Divorce, hard. Estrangement from a family member, hard. You know, the whole cycle of addiction and recovery and relapse for family members and friends, hard, mental health issues, hard, lawsuits, right? Being on the receiving end of a lawsuit, hard, the death of a parent, a sibling, a child, so incredibly hard. None of these things are easy, and we don’t get to choose what lands in our life story. So, we can offer sympathy to anyone who is struggling, and we should, right? All of us can at least do that. But when we can offer empathy, when we can share from our own experience to help someone navigate to the other side, that’s extraordinary. So here’s my thought: if you’re going through something that you’ve never been through before, it’s going to be extra hard. Being around people who’ve been there and done that and who are willing to be transparent about their experience really can change so much about how you feel. So my encouragement to you is to seek those people out, and that is going to take courage, my friend. You’re going to need to raise your hand, let yourself be seen, tell enough of your story that someone can recognize that they’ve been there, and let them say me too. And the courage that that will take will not come easily. But I promise you it will be worth it when you find the person on the other side. And those of you on the other side, if someone in your circle is brave enough to tell you that life is hard right now, then I want you to be brave enough to let them see the not so shiny parts of your own story because that may be exactly what they need to find strength for the day ahead. And if you can remember what it felt like and reach back into your personal experience to share, you just might be the person who gets them through it. Powerful connections are forged when we are not afraid to say hey you’re not doing it wrong.

That is all that I have for you today, my friends. Till next time, let’s stay connected to each other. Let’s be there for each other, and let’s help each other find whatever we need to get to the day ahead.

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