To get stronger, you have to embrace challenges.

Bodybuilders love the challenge of lifting heavier weights and expanding their capacity to lift them. Hikers love the challenge of a new mountain.

When you view challenges as things that are enjoyable, you get to experience the reward of strength they bring.

What if we looked at the hard parts of our lives like that?

This week, I share some insights on the hard parts of life and the massive difference enjoying them can make. Learn why the more you challenge yourself with hard things, the more you expand your capacity as a human being.

Who doesn’t love getting stronger and feeling their capacity for life increase?

What you will discover

  • Why you might think hard things can’t be fun.
  • The secret to enjoying challenges.
  • What psychologically challenging things are.
  • Some tips for enjoying the hard parts of your life.
  • How to enjoy starting challenges.

Featured on the show

Episode Transcript

You are listening to The Life Coach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo, episode 448.

Welcome to The Life Coach School Podcast, where it’s all about real clients, real problems and real coaching. And now your host, Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo.

What’s up my friends? How are you all doing? I am doing. I’m doing a lot. I’m doing a lot, a lot. I’m in Scottsdale right now getting ready for my upcoming live event that starts Friday, and there’s just a lot of moving parts to create in terms of the curriculum, to create in terms of connecting with all the participants who are coming, making sure everyone has what they need, making sure we have all the materials ready, make sure the speakers are all set.

It is a wild fun time right now. And I’m also having a huge Friendsgiving. We’re having 20 people at the house for Thanksgiving, my family and then my chosen family’s families, and their families. So we got a lot going on up in here. It’s exciting.

But today, I wanted to talk about enjoying the hard parts. The hard parts of life, the challenges, the obstacles. I think that one of the things that makes me keep progressing, keep growing, keep innovating is that I enjoy the hard parts. And I don’t shy away from them, and I actually enjoy a challenge in front of me.

And so I was thinking about so many of my clients who I feel shy away from the hard parts, try to avoid the hard parts, try and make the stuff easy before they do it, and how it just ends up making everything take so much longer.

So I started thinking about people who enjoy hard things, and people who put themselves in harm’s way, and people that challenge themselves on purpose to see what they’re made of. And I was thinking about people who really have big business goals and enjoy working hard at work to achieve them.

I was thinking about people who love an intense workout and want to go and see how heavy they can lift. People that go on a run. These people, I’m astounded by. They want to run for miles and miles and miles and marathons and miles, and people like me who love to hike up big mountains and love to see the view.

And we don’t see all of these challenges, all of these obstacles, all of this hard work as a bad thing. We actually see it as a great thing and something that we truly enjoy. One of the latest things people are doing is jumping in ice cold water, doing cold plunges, and truly learning how to enjoy something that is so intensely physically painful.

Now, it’s important that we talk about this not just in terms of enjoying the result of the hard work, which many people can claim that they do. They enjoy the result of having worked hard, the result of having had a good workout, the result of climbing a mountain because of where they end up afterwards.

But what I’m talking about here is actually enjoying the hard part, and how do we learn how to enjoy the hard part? Because if we’re only interested in completing it, we’re only interested in the result from it, it may be hard for us to even start the hard work.

And I will say that once you start the hard work, continuing it is not as hard. But a lot of times, because we don’t enjoy the hard work, we won’t even start it. So we don’t even learn how to develop a relationship with the challenges in our lives.

So I try to analyze everything in my own life to see what I can learn so I can then teach it to you. And I think one of the reasons why I really enjoy challenges and hard work is because I believe in my own strength. And if you think about maybe a bodybuilder, like one of my best friends Alex Hormozi is a bodybuilder.

He’s a huge, ripped, muscled guy. And when he sees a pile of weights, to him, that is exciting, that is fun, that is a challenge, let me see if I can lift all of those up at the same time. That sounds like a great time. And many of their friends that I hang out with, they all love to go to the gym and they all love to lift as heavy as they possibly can and they can’t wait to get there and do that.

And so I was thinking a lot about just even picking up a weight is exciting for them because they get to see what they’re made of. Now, most all of them go in to the gym believing that they’re strong. So think about this; lifting a heavy weight when you’re strong is fun. It’s super fun because you get to demonstrate to yourself and maybe other people that are around you how strong you are.

You get to exercise your strength literally, and the stronger you get, the more fun it is to be able to handle challenges. So I evaluate that in terms of the alternative as well. When you’re not strong, the first time you go into the gym and you don’t have any muscle yet, it’s not very fun to lift up heavy things because you can’t actually do it very well because you haven’t developed your strength yet.

And so many of us, if we walk in to the gym and we aren’t already strong, we just walk right back out. This is not for me, this room with all these weights was not created for me, this is for strong people, right?

Or in terms of climbing mountains, or in terms of running marathons, or in terms of building businesses, when we first start, we’re very “weak” at those things because we haven’t established our own strength yet in that area. And so we don’t enjoy doing hard things when hard things don’t demonstrate our strength.

But the only way to be able to demonstrate our strength and to get stronger is to do harder and harder things. So as we get stronger, we want heavier weights, we want bigger hills to climb, we want longer distances to run, we want to run longer distances faster. We want to see what we are made of and we can’t see that, we can’t demonstrate our strength to ourselves and to others without having bigger and bigger challenges.

So this led me to the conclusion that strong people like challenges because strong people, physically and mentally, want to exercise their strength in their life. So if you want to enjoy the hard parts, the secret is to get stronger.

I remember years ago, I was walking with one of my girlfriends who was also a client who was trying to lose weight. And we were out on a pretty brisk walk, and she was just telling me how much she doesn’t enjoy walking. She’s like, “Walking’s just not for me, I just don’t enjoy it, it makes me uncomfortable.”

And at the time, I was thinner than she was and she was heavier, and I said to her, “But if you were in my body that is strong and fit, do you think you would enjoy walking?” And she said, “Yes, I would totally enjoy it. Being in your body walking would be amazing to me.” And it made me think yes.

So in order to get to the point where you enjoy the hard things, you have to get strong enough to enjoy the hard thing, which means you have to not like the hard thing long enough to like it. You have to be willing to suck at it, you have to be willing to not be good at it, you have to be willing to be weak and doing the hard thing in order to get strong.

Now, the stronger you get, the more challenge you’re going to want. And as you add new challenges, you will then now suck at that new thing. Every next level, you will be engaged as the weakness of that new challenge, you will be too weak for the new challenge. But you will have learned the process of turning weakness into strength.

So even though you will suck at the new challenge, you may be afraid of the new challenge, you may not know if you can lift the new weight, you don’t know if you can climb the hill or run the marathon as fast as you want, but you know how to try, and you know that it will get you stronger whether you succeed or not. And in the building of your strength, you start to enjoy expressing your strength, which means you start enjoying the challenge.

So the secret to accomplishing hard things first and foremost is to enjoy hard things. And the secret to enjoying hard things is to get strong. I always ask large men in my life to open things I can’t open, namely my children who are much taller and bigger than me. If I can’t open a jar, open something, I give it to them. And to them, it’s so easy because they’re so much stronger than I am.

So it’s fun for them to open jars for me and typically make fun of me that I can’t open the jar at the time. But it’s not like a burden to them. They’re like, “Oh, this is fun twisting this off and showing my mom how strong I am because she’s not.”

So when you think about all of the things, even just physical strength, all the things that you would enjoy doing when you’re fit and when you’re strong, climbing mountains when you’re super fit, and running, and lifting heavy things, and being outside in nature and doing physical things that are challenging is fun when you’re strong.

And the more challenging things you do, the stronger you will get. And the stronger you get, the more challenging things you will do, the more you will grow, the more you’ll expand, the more that you will get in touch with your capacity as a human being.

This also applies to doing things that are psychologically challenging. Things that are psychologically challenging are things that put us in the way of possibly experiencing negative emotion, like shame or humiliation or sadness or grief or rejection.

The better we get at taking on those challenges and processing those types of emotions and putting ourselves in positions where we could feel those emotions and moving through them, the stronger we get.

I was just listening to one of my clients talk about this and she was talking about the hardest thing that she had just gone through. Very challenging psychological situation that she went through, where she had to do a lot of work on her own emotional life.

And now felt stronger than ever to take on anything. It’s almost like, “If I can get through that, I can get through anything.” But ironically, the way that she got strong enough to be able to handle anything was going through the thing that she wasn’t yet strong enough to go through. By going through it, she became stronger.

So are you a person who is avoiding challenges, trying to make your life easier, and not getting stronger? This was what was happening to me physically when I wasn’t lifting weights. I didn’t need to lift weights. I was thin, I fit in my clothes, it was fine. I tried to go through life not having to lift heavy things physically because why? I didn’t have to.

And then the doctor told me I need more muscle tone and that I had to go into that gym and if you’re in Scholars, you saw me go through that process of lifting those weights and being so sore and being in so much pain. But now I’ve developed strength to lift heavy things. And I actually enjoy lifting up things in my own life now because I’m so much stronger.

It’s so funny, I just jumped the fence. I’m in this gated community, I’m in this very chi-chi gated community with very high security. And I was out walking on the trail or on the road inside of my development, and there’s a gate where you can get outside so I can have a longer walk, but the gate was closed and I didn’t know the code.

So I just jumped the fence. And I don’t think people expected that from me, but I’m strong enough now that I just popped right over it, kind of threw my legs to the side and just kind of jumped the fence. Oh my gosh, security, everyone running after me, you would have thought I was coming in with blazing intentions.

But it was like, what is this person doing? How are they jumping this fence? Why are they coming in here? It was hysterical. And they were laughing because they’re like, we just thought you were just a lady out on a walk and all of a sudden you’re doing acrobatics. And it was so cool to be able to be in the world as a physically strong person.

So I’m going to give you some tips on how to enjoy the hard parts of life. First, don’t try to make your life easy. You can’t get strong with an easy life. And an easy life will not encourage you to grow, it won’t encourage you to understand yourself, it won’t encourage you to get to know yourself in new ways.

One of the joys of my life is meeting myself and knowing myself in new ways every single day. I live in this big beautiful house by myself. I am my own company most of the time, and sometimes I wake up and it’s the middle of the nights, and I’m like, “This is you Brooke. This is you. This is who you are.” And I love myself.

I have such a great relationship with myself, but I’m also kind of dating myself, getting to know myself in a whole new way, at a whole new age, in a whole new space and time in my life. And I’m always asking myself the question, how strong can you get? How much can you grow? Where will this capacity take you? How many hard things are you willing to take on?

Let me ask you this. What is the most challenging thing that you’ve taken on lately in your life? Is it a worthy enough challenge for who you are and where you are? Are you just taking on little baby challenges and just getting baby strong? Or are you really stepping up to the plate of your own life and trying to hit that home run with the challenge that you’re putting in front of you?

And are you giving up too easily, or are you coming back for more, knowing that the hard thing is making you stronger? Knowing that every time you fall down, you’re building the strength to stand back up. That’s what makes it fun.

When you believe that you already are strong, or that you have the capability and the capacity to get strong enough to handle the challenge and the next challenge and the next challenge in front of you, you start looking at your life in terms of what are the things that I can do to make myself stronger? What are the things that I can do that can make me more of who I am?

And do you know what the answer is? Hard things. Hard things are what do that. The hard things in life. The goals that seem impossible. You know me, I love an impossible goal. It seems like the hardest thing. In order to achieve an impossible goal, you have to completely give up who you are so it is no longer impossible.

An impossible goal is only impossible to the person I am today. It’s not impossible to the person I may be tomorrow, but I have to change who I am to make that thing possible. It doesn’t work the other way around.

So when I look at my goals and I think, “What is it about me and the way I’m being that’s making that impossible?” And I solve for that, it’s always a hard thing I need to overcome, a challenge I need to get through.

So the question becomes, how do we enjoy not just doing hard things but starting hard things, jumping in to hard things, saying yes to a hard thing, deciding a hard thing? If you listen to my podcast, a couple podcasts ago I talk about the difference between wanting something and deciding something.

Wanting to lose weight versus deciding to lose weight. Wanting to make more money versus deciding to make more money. Deciding to do the thing that is so challenging you know it will produce strength in your life, you know it will produce growth in your life.

And it’s not even in the achieving of it that you achieve and enjoy it. It’s in the process of growing, the journey, the strength, the lifting that we learn how to enjoy as part of the process of continually growing. If you are a person who feels like you have arrived somewhere and that you are somehow done arriving, you will stop looking for hard things to do, and that would be such a shame.

The harder the thing you’re willing to start, the stronger you’re going to be, the more growth you’re going to have. When is the last time you picked something really hard to do because you wanted to find out who you are on the inside, on the outside? You wanted to see what you were capable of, you wanted to overcome your resistance, your hesitation, your doubt, your worry, your feelings of inadequacy.

I grapple with this all the time. Lovingly, excitedly, I like bringing up all of my garbage thoughts that say you can’t do that, that’s too hard, you’re not capable of that, don’t do that, why would you want to do something hard? Do something easy, just relax, you’re already rich, you’re already thin, you’re already happy, don’t do all these things, you don’t need to keep growing.

That’s what my brain tells me all the time. But I understand the motivational triad. I understand that our survival brains are wired to avoid hard things, and we have to override that in order to keep growing and get stronger. The tendency is to lay on the couch, and to eat, and to buffer, and to hide, and to give up, and to quit, and to ridicule, and to complain.

That’s what comes naturally to us. That’s what’s easy. It’s much harder to support ourselves and love ourselves and push ourselves to do hard things. And not hard things at our own expense, but hard things at our own benefit.

What is the hardest challenge you could take on that would serve you at the highest level? I’m not ever suggesting you take on hard things that you then beat yourself up over them. I’m recommending you take on hard things and enjoy them and support yourself through them and use them to grow.

So whatever it is you’re facing in your life right now that’s hard, whatever it is that you’re not facing in your life that you wish you were facing that is hard, I want to encourage you to observe your interaction with hard things. Notice if you are enjoying them. Notice if you’re witnessing your own strengthening, whether it’s psychologically or physically.

And ask yourself, are you committed to continuously getting stronger, to continuously expanding, to continuously going to that next level? For me, that is the most enjoyable part of being alive. It’s not even the result I get. It’s not even the strength I get. It’s the process of constantly showing up and introducing myself to myself, putting myself in a situation and seeing how I handle it.

Am I going to crumble? Am I going to resist? Or am I going to create? And what I choose to do is create strength with hard things. You too, my friend, can learn to love to do hard things. Not just that we can do hard things, but we can love and enjoy doing hard things for our own sake, for our own growth, for our own expansion.

So pick a challenge right now. Find a way to enjoy it. Enjoy the process and the strength and the growth that you get from doing hard things. Have a beautiful week everyone, I’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

Hey, if you enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out Self-Coaching Scholars. It's my monthly coaching program where we take all this material and we apply it. We take it to the next level and we study it. Join me over at the Make sure you type in the I'd love to have you join me in Self-Coaching Scholars. See you there.

Get Coached in Self Coaching Scholars Today