Wednesday 18th May 2022

What Is The Hard* Thing? Part One. 2018.91.

What Is The Hard* Thing? Part One. 2018.91.

Hard* as in challenging. scary, not easy, fearful, anxiety-making…but ultimately will or does help with personal growth, wisdom, satisfaction and sense of accomplishment …no matter how big or small.

The ‘hard thing’ is something I have had to accept and do if I want to move on or forward in my life.

There are times when the hard thing can feel too hard or even unacceptable for me to try to do or be.

Noticing nature helps me focus on “just one thing”

Here’s an example.

Last week I had an elevated feeling of anxiety/worry about my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) ramping up to let ME know what my thinking self was not aware of. That is, as I understand the mind vs the gut thing, that my IBS was ramping up because it sensed a fear situation happening.

If you have read here for a while, you will recall that I have really had to work via exposure therapy based messages and activities to make changes to be able to do ordinary, every day activities. This is the first part of the story and here is the second one.

I had ticked a pretty major (for me) life experience challenge box when I drove to Sydney on Monday especially to meet a friend for coffee and a catch up. Awesome and planned by me and I was so glad to be doing it. However, my gut rumbled and let me know:

 “ah ha you are about to get in the car and go down the M1. This is something that you have been scared to do because of IBS”

I refused to play the old IBS, crying, fearful game and instead, took some preventative action and had a successful drive, a wonderful catch up and came home with no ill-effects.

Go me. Right? Right! Until this…

The next day. I had found I was pretty tired from the physical and emotional effects of yesterday’s much wanted success and when I had my IBS back again AND needed to leave the house to go to the hairdresser, I did similarly to the day before, and gave myself the meds, the talk and set off. I was OK. Mind you, I remained somewhat on high alert and that bothered me because:

In the past, I would have had  the haircut, gone to the loo (again, to see I was OK) then driven straight back home. The place of security and comfort.

But something stopped me. These words:

Do The Hard Thing

Why did I listen? Well, based on my past experiences, I have often regretted being beaten  by the fear once I am home. On this occasion this was the conversation in my head:

Do you want to go straight home and then regret not going for a coffee which is your daily treat?

No, I don’t

Then stay, and sit down for the coffee and do something in your art journal so your mind & body  know who is in charge.

And that was how I did the first hard thing that day.

Next one was this. As I usually drive home from The Entrance, I stop somewhere close to the water and take photos as I notice nature for that day. Instead, I told myself to do another hard thing. I drove in a different direction, to Long Jetty, got out of the car, walked and took photos and a little vid without rushing at all.

This is now my locked screen saver.

These two instances might sound small to some readers but I know that I valued myself more highly for doing something that was out of my comfort zone on two different days as I know how much that helps my inner confidence and ways in which I manage IBS.

It is not the end.

It is never the end.

As long as there are things within me that are scary (to me) and may heighten my gut’s reactions, I am going to need to continue to do the hard things.

For too long, I have avoided hard things and that made me even sicker emotionally than ever. I do not want to go back to that space again.

Next week will be about the why of this strategy and how important it is not only to me, but those readers who let me know about their hard things in the comments.

What is the hard thing for you?

Is there more than one?

Do share in the comments.

Thank you.


Joining with Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays here and with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share the Love.




  1. A great philosophy. We can all learn from your experiences because we all have our own “hard things”. One of mine is multi-lane motorway driving. Desperation to see my granddaughter when she moved out of Auckland made me conquer that with the help of Mrs Google Maps who tells me when to change lanes:) As an older woman now living alone after decades with a handyman husband, I have appreciated little things like (ashamed to admit it) hanging a picture by myself or – much prouder of this one – putting up curtain rails. It not just fear with me it’s about learning. My next challenge is parallel parking. Hmmm.

    • Oh wow, go you. I loved seeing the results of the hard thing you did getting on that motorway. You and your sweet granddaughter together.

      I agree about the small things which become accomplishments in their own right.

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting…and I am going to see if I can do the same on your blog post.

      Denyse x

  2. I’ve come here from the IBOT linkup and want to say thanks for sharing your experience. I have general anxiety issues and often it’ll be one little thing that will throw off my plans and make me cancel what I’m meant to be doing. “Doing the hard thing” is such a good reminder of what we gain when we don’t let things hold us back and will help us the next time when those things strike at us again. I really needed to see that today!

    • Oh that is so good to know. I understand this completely and was surprised with that statement that seemed to come from nowhere. However, I also know that I have been sick of living with the ‘what ifs’ and my body needed the brain’s message.

      Thank you for your kind words and I sure hope that you too do the hard things because in the end it is worth it.

      Denyse x

  3. My biggest hard thing is I’ll have to give birth in around a month! But at the end of that I get a baby, so it will be worth it. Other than that, I’m learning to drive which I’ve been scared about for ages. I suppose baby is my motivation for doing that too!

    • Goodness me, I can understand the concern about both. But, as you already say, the baby and the learning to drive will be worth it.

      I am wishing you all the best and do come back and let me know about both!

      Denyse x

  4. Good on you Denyse- you’re so self aware!

  5. Love your self awareness and that fact that you can get over your hard things – not just once but time and time again. So proud of you, showing your IBS who’s boss!

    • That is it. Showing IBS who is boss…and generally I am winning. Hope you feel better soon Sammie…can’t go to Hawaii and not eat.!!

      Denyse x

  6. I said this exact thing to myself today. Well, words to that effect. It wasn’t easy. I had to do something really scary. But I decided to BE the person and just do it. Deep breaths and a whole lot of fake bravado. Yay me!
    And Yay you!

  7. I think it’s incredibly brave to go outside of your comfort zone like that. I still haven’t been back to a horrible pitch black road where I hit flooding (very slow speed but still) with no notice a few years ago. I’m actually thinking it’ll be easier to go there now in the new car because it’s separated more in my mind.

    • Thanks Vanessa, I literally HAD to when I got cancer and went to Sydney so that is what I keep on applying to new things for me to conquer. Some of this was never an issue before but it seems an experience or an imagined one can heighten our fear and keep us frozen. Your body and mind are remembering that time but I reckon, in good conditions it would be a relatively easy one to do now you have moved on and got a new and bigger car!

      Denyse x

  8. I love this mantra Denyse and the way you did it. For me ‘doing the hard thing’ would be to conquer my fear of Dentists. Not sure my head is in the right space to do that YET. But will give it thought now you’ve prompted me #MLSTL Shared on SM

    • Hi Jennifer, oh my, yes I understand this only too well. My trips to the dentist were cancelled because of IBS way before I knew I had cancer and I did not like that I was cancelling so I really did have to gather up my courage and do the visits.

      Over time, my body and I became used to it which is why it’s called exposure therapy. I also know now how much dentists understand this fear and it might be worthwhile have a chat to a dentist or two about it first.

      I wish you well. Come back and tell me how it goes!

      Denyse x

  9. Good on you for challenging that negative self talk! I can understand how tiring it must be, but hopefully in time it will become easier in time. This has been a year of great change within my family, it was hard at the time but the benefits are showing themselves now and I’m glad we made the effort.

    • Oh Erika, how good is it to go through those times and emerge knowing it was worth it.

      I often feel this way about what I can do again and I smile because it sure was something I had rejected as impossible for ages.

      Denyse x

  10. Good for you Denyse, you have your ‘negative Nellie’ well in hand and not letting her stop you from living your life. Thanks for the reminder and inspiration to all of us at #MLSTL. We love having you part of our community. Enjoy the rest of your week. xx

    • Oh she still wants to tell me stuff but I am much better at putting her in her place. Strangely or maybe not, she often has my father’s voice… mmmmm.

      Thank you for your 100% support and it is always a pleasure to join in for #MLSTL

      Denyse x

  11. Doing scary things is always good for us Denyse – but it’s hard to push through at the time. I’m a big fan of comfort zones, so change and new situations always up my stress levels. I admire you for pushing through – especially with a physical ailment to battle in the process – and at the risk of getting caught short at the end of a jetty! Very brave xx #MLSTL and shared on my SM

    • Thanks so much Leanne, I really had to accept the element of risk in what I did and imagine the worst scenario when I first learned about this. I now know I can manage MUCH better that I did for those few years where confidence left me.

      We sure do change and grow as adults and a comfort zone is more of an illusion these days.

      Thanks for your linky and 100% support too.

      Denyse x

  12. OK-this got to me because I’ve always been one to cower away from what is hard for me to face. Your words will stay with me next time I’m confronted with facing something I’d MUCH rather not deal with. I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks, Denyse. #MLSTL

    • Thank you Kim. Interestingly when we back away from the fear or whatever it is it actually makes in grow. I am in the learning stage about this and my husband helps me a lot in terms of reminders.

      Going slowly and accepting the hiccups helps. But do congratulate yourself too.

      I wish you well.

      Denyse x

  13. Hi Denyse, You are right that everyone has a different “hard thing”…things outside their comfort zone. Thanks for sharing your accomplishments in doing a couple of them! I’m planning one next month and every time I think about it (it’s scheduled), my tummy does somersaults. Thanks for the mantra – Do it because this is how I grow! visiting from MLSTL…. oh, and I found my mandala coloring book and have done a couple of pages! 🙂

    • Thanks Pat and how good it is to read your updates! Go girl.

      The tummy is a guide for me too but over time and with some success in your ‘hard thing’ this will recede.

      Great to hear the mandala book is out and being coloured too.

      Denyse x

  14. It is funny how one person’s hard thing is nothing to another. Good for you for stepping up and out of your comfort zone. I rarely step out of my comfort zone to make hard decisions but I am impressed by you.

    • Thank you Victoria. Yes you are so right – a hard thing for one may be an easy one for another.

      It took getting cancer to make me get out of the so-called comfort zone and yet, now 16 + months down the track I know that comfort zone was more prison-like as it held me in from things I really wanted to do and try.

      Warm wishes
      Denyse x

  15. Hi, Denyse – Your examples don’t sound small at all — quite the opposite. I always find your posts to be inspiring and encouraging. This one was no exception. I look forward to reading your upcoming thoughts on the “why” of the strategy. See you there!

    • Thank you Donna. There is more to view in the links in this post. I have to say that writing about it helps me and the fact that others see it and may pick up something for themselves is a win!

      Denyse x

  16. Wow, Denyse. I needed to read this post. Yes, I did. I have struggled with IBS for the last umpteen years. I have lost days and weeks because of the symptoms of this terrible affliction. I have taken greater charge of my diet so that I have fewer attacks, but honestly, I have a long way to go to understand “sensed fear” impacts me. I know that is a problem. I know it is. I even understand how it is a problem, but honestly, I have never seen anyone write about, or even speak to me about sensed fear and how it causes IBS. I know there is a link. I am grateful to read the way you have dealt with this.

    Not only that, but I have never heard of exposure therapy before. I’m new here, so I am off to read your posts about the therapy.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    • Thank you Sally, and this is such good news to my ears that writing about IBS franklly is helping someone like yourself. I hid it from most people (and here on the blog until the last 2 years) because of the feelings of shame I had about it.

      I must add, not only is it a mindset thing for me, I have two physical helpers. My GP put me on a low dose old-fashioned anti-depressant because it slows my gut down 80% of the time more than without it and I take immodium if I have excess BMs and need to travel. But, the mind is the big player here and I have a gut that senses what it going in in my life and often tells me (grrr IBS) before I am ready to admit it.

      If you read the two posts I have given links to, you can read some more of the story. I am also now following a person on twitter who is making a lot of sense to me re IBS and she is an American. Her name is Wendy Leung (@wendyleungcoach) and she offers courses to help.

      Wishing you well,

      Denyse x

  17. Congratulations Denyse on doing the hard thing–a couple of them! I am not comfortable driving places Ii am unfamiliar with and particularly mountain roads. On the other hand, I love hiking and being in the mountains. I have done the hard thing (for me) and driven the canyons several times this summer. I also rode a bike this year for the first time in decades. I actually didn’t do that one because I wanted to, but because it was a team-building activity, and I didn’t want to let my fear keep me from participating. So I did it and survived and have more confidence because of it. #MLSTL

    • Oh good on you! That sounds like the best thing…I mean how you challenged yourself to do something you really didn’t want to but did.

      Life throws us lots of those doesn’t?

      Thanks so much for sharing Christie. Doing the hard things helps us grow for sure.

      Denyse x