Why are some things ‘hard’? (exploring resistance and its universal solution)

Cathy Presland
6 min readDec 2, 2018


Why do some things look really really hard??

It struck me this week (not for the first time) that there’s a gulf of difference between things that appear ‘hard’ to me, and things that are ‘easy’, mindless almost, meaning that I’m not aware that I’m doing them or, if I notice, then it feels obvious that I’d be doing it.

Not Everything is Easy…

I’ve been asked to record a live talk as part of a programme I’m participating in called ‘Emerging Voices’. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off. I don’t know why because I love being in person with a group — it’s one of my favourite ways to work.

Is it the fact it’s a ‘talk’ rather than an interactive seminar?

Or the fact it has to be recorded?

Or the fact that the recording will be seen (and therefore judged) by others?

Who knows.

I could make up a lot of reasons and some of them would even appear to be true. But it doesn’t look that useful to me to try to ‘figure it out’.

What I do know, though, is that, when I mentioned my assignment (and my resistance) to a friend, she immediately jumped in and offered that I come and talk to her group.

I wasn’t angling for a talk, I was simply sharing my observation of how much I was veering away from the task.

In a flash, this ‘thing’ that looked tough to me looked, not just easy, but hugely exciting and enjoyable.

I’ve done it many times in many different areas of life — some things appear ‘easy’, like putting on my running shoes and going out, even for just a short run. Versus giving up coffee, or becoming vegan, which look ‘hard’, or like they’d cause me a lot of discomfort (all future, imagined discomfort of course).

I know for sure I’m not the only one who experiences this.

Is the Solution in the ‘Habit’ Strategies…?

Getting ourselves to do these things that are on our ‘should’ list is exactly why there’s a whole universe of habit strategies, productivity advice, tactics and techniques.

There’s a world out there of people who want to help you get more stuff done, to get over yourself and do the hard stuff, because “it’s good for you”. It’s an innocent mistake to look in this direction for a solution, but it’s still a mistake.

To me it looks true that the thing that looks hard has nothing to do with the ‘thing’ itself, and everything to do with the way it’s appearing to me in this moment.

If that statement really is true, then I have no need of strategies and tactics, because if something isn’t hard, then it’s easy. And why would I need help to do things that are easy??

If it’s Easy….

Sure, some things might be physically harder — like training for an Ironman, but people (me and you included!) do things that are physically uncomfortable all the time.

The real difference — the only difference in fact — is the amount of psychological hardship we experience — which comes from us — from how much of our thinking looks real to us — not from the task or the object.

When I shared my resistance to doing a live talk with my friend, I wasn’t asking myself how to shift the feeling, I was attempting to shine a spotlight on my own thinking, the equivalent of asking myself,

“What if it doesn’t have to be hard? What if you only think it is?”

When my perception shifted, as it did in that moment, then the ‘thing’ itself shifted from hard to easy.

It’s in moments like those — when we loosen our fixed position about the hardship, that solutions appear. We often come up with our own new insights and ideas or, as in this case, something pops up in front of us and the stuckness dissolves.

In that moment it became easy for me to talk to my friend, find out more about her group, what the members are interested in and how that ties in with my recent insights. It became as easy, and as obvious as reaching for a glass of water when I’m thirsty.

And I know it’s the same for you.

When we see something as ‘hard’ then it can feel as if there’s a real thing called ‘resistance’ and we’re experiencing it. When we loosen our thinking, then we can see that believing the resistance is real is as unhelpful (or laughable) as believing in Santa (only not in such a magical way!)

In the instant you see that the thing that looked hard has no more solidity than an apparition, or a puff of smoke, or a jovial rotund man with a white beard wearing a red suit, then all the difficulty dissolves, taking its procrastination and lack of motivation with it.

Is THIS the Universal Solution?

It looks as if it’s something we did to get to that point and it’s a question clients as me all the time,

“How can I get myself to do X?”


“How can I get rid of the feeling that something is hard?”

But, here’s why the ‘solution’ isn’t in what we do to loosen our thinking, and why I’m not offering this as a prescription…

You see, the real action isn’t in whether I shared my thinking with someone, or whether I asked myself ‘what might be possible if it was easy?’, or indeed anything I ‘did’.

Nope, the real solution came in the instant before those thoughts occurred to me.

And I have no control over those instants, or any thoughts for that matter, which is a truth about life that I momentarily forgot.

While I was focusing on the illusion of not wanting to do the talk, of looking only at my present moment experience of some imaginary future, then I lost awareness that the real action takes place behind the scenes.

The real action is whatever opened me up to share my experience with my friend; it’s whatever prompted her to make the offer; it’s whatever will propel us, without our needing to take control, towards the perfect outcome for us and for her group.

And life is sooooo much better when I remember that — when I see that ‘life’ has control, and there’s no need at all for me to worry or fret or believe in hardship and ease as real experiences.

Here’s the Truth about Hard and Easy…

For I know, as a deeply immutable truth, that my experience of the world around me is an experience of consciousness. An experience that doesn’t exist, an illusion that takes my focus away from whatever I’m supposed to be doing.

When I remember that, I feel a deep gratitude and sense of awe for the way life is presented to me, and the way things always seem to work out.

And then, sometimes, I forget.

But, the more I look deeply at what’s true, the less I care about that forgetting, the less it matters how things appear to me in this illusion of life, the easier it is to get stuff done, or, rather, to do the stuff that is being presented to me, and the more time and energy I have to enjoy the view as I go.

Even if that view comes with a few bumps in the road.

With love,



About the author

Cathy Presland is an expert in human-centred leadership and transformative change. She has more than two decades of experience in government and international organisations and her focus as a coach is to support impact-driven individuals and organisations to improve their performance, leadership and peace of mind to enable them to make more of a difference with the work they do.



Cathy Presland

What if making an impact was part of your everyday? Stories to light up your soul. Read more and free courses: https://cathypresland.com/