Do you ever find yourself avoiding a task just because it seems too hard? Do you stop before you even start?
What if I told you that the difficulty you perceive might not be real?
The truth is, we all have a tendency to overestimate the difficulty of a task, especially when we’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. This can lead you to avoid challenges that could help you grow and learn.
In this post, we’ll explore the paradox of difficulty: the idea that the things that seem most daunting or too great to be overcome might actually be the ones that offer the greatest rewards.
We’ll discuss why you perceive tasks as difficult, the consequences of avoiding them, and strategies for overcoming your own resistance to the unknown.
So if you’re ready to embrace a new perspective on difficulty and unlock your full potential, keep reading.
What is the paradox of difficulty?
The paradox of difficulty, aka the perception of difficulty, is the idea that the perceived level of difficulty of a task may be influenced by your psychological factors, for example, your level of self-confidence, your mindset, and your emotions.
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.
This highlights the role that your own fears and doubts can play in making a task seem more challenging than it actually is.
At its core, the paradox of difficulty is a phenomenon that can prevent you from taking action and pursuing your goals. When you perceive something as too difficult, you can feel discouraged or overwhelmed, which leads to procrastination, avoidance, or even giving up altogether. However, if you shift your perception and see it as more manageable or approachable, you might be more likely to take action and make progress.
What makes this even worse is that this perception of difficulty can be self-reinforcing.
When you avoid a difficult task, you can feel temporary relief but over time, this avoidance makes the hill you need to climb look even higher. As a result, this creates a cycle that keeps you from even starting the journey.
Once you have a firm understanding of this, you can begin overcoming your perceived limitations and taking action with more confidence and determination.
This can involve
Reframing negative self-talk
seeking support from others
breaking down tasks into smaller steps
embracing a growth mindset – seeing challenges as opportunities for growth and learning
The psychology of perceived difficulty
Our perception of difficulty is influenced by a range of psychological factors. Fear of failure, Overestimation of effort, Lack of confidence, stress, anxiety… The list goes on. On top of this list is…
It refers to our tendency to focus more on the negative than the positive. When you were in the bush with a friend and something sounded like a tiger, you were better of to run away than your friend who stayed to check if it was a rare bird and became a snack.
This used to serve us well in the past but nowadays it gets you focused on all the obstacles that may materialize on your way to a goal, causing you to feel overwhelmed.
Negativity bias also leads to negative self-talk. You tell yourself you’re not good enough to go through all the obstacles at once. Which leads to…
Fear of failure
When you’re afraid of failing, you’re more likely to tense up, which will make accomplishing whatever you set your mind on, more difficult to achieve than if you were relaxed and focused.
This gets worse the farther away the goal is from your current circle of competence. What it doesn’t take into account is that as you start the journey you’ll learn things, gain new skills and sharpen existing ones.
Past experiences and beliefs
Past experiences and beliefs about your abilities also shape your perception of difficulties. If your next challenge reminds you of some negative experiences you had before, you’re more likely to see the challenge as more difficult and it will be harder to attempt.
The same thing happens if you believe things like “I’m not the type of person who…” or “I’ll never be able to…“ All this contributes to…
Stress and anxiety
When you’re stressed or anxious, your mind becomes more focused on potential threats and dangers and tries to find a safe place. And by definition, everything new is unknown and has its own unknown threats. This makes you see more negative than positive and closes the circle of negativity bias.
By understanding these psychological factors, you can have more compassion for yourself and start challenging your assumptions of difficulty. You can start by reframing negative self-talk towards a growth-oriented mindset.
Consequences of avoiding difficult challenges
So what’s the big deal? Why not just avoid anything hard? Live an easy life and all that…
Sure, if you stick your head in the sand, you won’t see the scary thing. But you’ll also miss the opportunity to get to know it, learn how to deal with it, and gain some skills.
If you run away from challenges, your self-confidence will slowly diminish. Keep telling yourself that you can’t handle new things and you’ll start believing it. This self-doubt can spill over into other areas of your life.
Just because you avoided a task, it doesn’t mean it went away. The thought of it usually still lingers somewhere in the back of your mind and every now and then remind you of the consequences of living a life of avoidance, fear and not living up to your full potential. It becomes even harder to face new challenges.
Strategies for overcoming perceived difficulty
Ready to learn how to go overcome this?
Break it down
One of the most effective ways to overcome a perceived difficulty is to break the task down into smaller, more manageable steps.
By doing this, you can focus on one piece of the puzzle at a time, which can make the overall task feel less overwhelming.
Ask for advice, guidance, feedback… Talk to your colleagues, friends, family members…
Focus on the process, not on perfection
James Clear, the New York Times best-selling author of Atomic Habits, suggests to
Start with an incredibly small habit
Increase your habits in very small ways
As you build up, break habits into chunks
When you slip, get back on track quickly
Be patient. Stick to a pace you can sustain.
Embrace a growth mindset
Finally, adopting a growth mindset can be incredibly helpful in overcoming perceived difficulty.
Recognize that challenges and setbacks are opportunities to learn and grow, rather than indicators of failure.
By embracing a growth mindset, you can approach difficult tasks with a sense of curiosity and openness, which can help you overcome fear or overwhelm.
So remember “It’s not because things are difficult that we don’t dare, it’s because we don’t dare that they are difficult“.
By understanding the paradox of difficulty and the psychology behind your perceptions of challenging tasks, you can start breaking through your own resistance to the unknown and unlock your full potential.
Next time you’re faced with a daunting challenge, take a deep breath, reframe your thinking, break it down into smaller steps, seek support, and embrace the growth mindset.
Best of luck on your journey of growth and self-discovery!
It’s not every day you go to sleep thinking: “What a thrilling and exciting day is going to be tomorrow”. (Oh, you do? Waiter, I’ll have what (s)he’s having!)
It’s ok, that’s just how life works. It would be nice, though, to have such thoughts once in a while, don’t you agree? 🙂
I would like you to have such thoughts tonight! Internet is a global village now and you could be viewing this at any time of the day or night. In order to achieve what we both want for you, come back to this post this evening before you go to sleep, read this text and take a long hard look at the image I took for you.
Try seeing the kid and his grandpa, the rowers training hard, and the Sun announcing that another day went by.
Try feeling the mood I felt there and that sense of hope that fills the frame, because Sun will rise again, and life is what you make it.
Forget your problems for a minute. Sleep it over. Tomorrow’s a new day!
“Let’s chase the sunset again.”, he said. “Sure, there’s a pretty, old, castle an hour away”, she replied like castles aren’t usually old, “but I’m not sure we’ll make it in time.” “I’m sure it will be fine if we just hurry a bit.”
The truth is… Everybody wants to be saved by somebody.
In the olden days, we had maidens and damsels, Cinderellas and evil sisters, wanting to be saved by prince Charming. Princes and other male folk wanting to be saved by a damsel dear to their heart.
I’m obviously not talking only about physical saving (hence princes). I’m not talking only about fairy tales either.
In modern days we don’t have the same idea of damsels and guys riding horses. But the principle still applies.
How many of you desperately waited for a phone call from that special someone or waited on a chat or social network of your choice for that special someone to get online and eventually contact you and relieve you from your misery, thus saving you? I know this might not be the best example I could come up with but it’s the one most of us can relate to.
This extends to other aspects of life too and I’m going to let this sink in with you and let your creativity figure this out 😉
I’m leaving you with this question: Who doesn’t want to be saved? You?
All your wishes might be collected in a common place to be randomly chosen to be granted. Let’s call this place a Pool Of Wishes (it sounds kinda cool, doesn’t it?)
Every now and then someone capable comes by your Pool and randomly picks one of your wishes and grants it.
Some wishes are harder to make real, and require more work that someone might not be up to. Thus leaves the wish ungranted…
If your Pool is empty, it’s just a sad place to look for them when they pass along.
That means you should have wishes! And you are better of with a handful of small ones, easier to achieve than the big one. It goes unsaid that those small ones create a mosaic of big picture, big wish, a Dream.
Same goes with your plans!
Break them into smaller pieces easier to achieve. Then break those again into even smaller ones. Start one by one and cross out those steps and small pieces.
You’ll see your Dream coming true!
What is in your Pool Of Wishes? What else would you put in it?
Love, pure and simple, is all that most strive for. It’s the ultimate goal we all hope to experience one day.
There are other objectives we have in life of course, but when it comes down to what is really important, everything else can be replaced one way or another.
I don’t mean to be overly sleek, romantic, naive or whatever you want to call it, but reach into yourself when no-one’s looking and I believe you’ll find it to be true. You can still hold your ground and not admit it out loud if it makes you tougher 😉
Whatever you choose to do, I leave you here with this thought and this image and hope you have a great day or night! 😀
Have you ever tried catching a lightning? When was the last time you did something you wanted but were afraid to?
Don’t you think it’s important for your personal grow to overcome your (irrational) fears and go and do those things for once?
I always wanted to shoot lightnings, but never left the house in the middle of the storm to do it. This shoot wasn’t supposed to be stormy, either. I was looking for a sunny colorful sunset. Instead, heavy clouds started gathering around, the air got filled with ozone scent and people ran for cover. This is it, I thought to my self, I’m not running no more, I’m a get myself some lightning shots!
The question here isn’t Why are you afraid?, as you may have initially thought, it’s How are you going to do it?
This post answers the question “What camera do you use?“, plus much more. It’s an update to the old post with the same title since quite a lot changed since I wrote it (even since I updated it).
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Since I gave my Nikon D5100 away, and pretty much all of the photos in my portfolio I’ve made with it, I mainly shoot with my phone. Old post has more details about that camera and lenses I used.
I also used OnePlus 5 for a while, and I still do from time to time. I know it very well and can work around its shortcomings.
My main camera now is that of OnePlus 8 Pro. In most specs far superior than my old Nikon. I like the addition of a wide angle camera, as I quite enjoyed the 18 mm side of my lens on the old camera. I like that the portrait mode now works with any lens length, although not perfectly. Macro mode is awesome, and it works with any camera. That’s something I wasn’t able to do without a dedicated lens before.
Software could give more control. Not being able to completely turn off HDR is rubbing me the wrong way. Camera does a great job at doing multiple exposures and merging them but sometimes I want to blow out a background for that light feeling. Just. Let. Me. Break. The. Rules. Like. An. Artist.
Often white balance leans on a bit too warm and green side so I have to correct it manually in Snapseed.
This is not really a review so I won’t go into more detail as everything else is mostly positive and I’m pretty happy with it. Happy enough that I’m not planning on buying a dedicated camera for the time being.
There are downsides of not using a dedicated camera and I’m coping with those. See “Lights” bellow 😀
I’ve put everything that isn’t camera or lens in this section.
Nikon SB700 is a great addition to the arsenal for food photography and people photography… when you have a camera that can trigger it. I haven’t yet figured a way to trigger a remote speedlight with a phone camera, so my go to is…
come with tripods that have ball heads so you can adjust position and angle
really white, which is really important for white balancing your photos and getting predictable results
come with diffusers and gels that help getting softer light and get different color light if you need to match your environment lighting
powered with a 5V 2A USB port so you can power them with a phone charger or a power bank on the go
are not flash lights, they are continually on, so they won’t cause blinking when photographing people and you can use them for videography (win-win)
have adjustable, in 10% increments, light levels so you can fill the shadows of the environment lighting, and other things you may want to do (for example, if you light your subject too bright, when adjusted for exposure, your background will be too dark)
feel cheep when handling, because they are, especially for everything you’re getting
get the job done
Hmm, do I really not have any gadgets?
I gave away my main tripod too, so… well, I cope. The stands that came with the lights have standard camera mounts at the top which can take a phone mount too. They are not that sturdy for landscape photography but they serve a purpose.
What I use very often lately, and is really my go to for stands, is UBeesize tripod pro. I don’t remember where/how I got it because I don’t have those handy remote triggers or any extra joints you’ll get from the link I posted. What’s cool is that you can put it in weird places by wrapping those legs around things.
I also have a small Manfrotto tripod I got as a present and use it for those cool, low angle shots, and a lot of other times for placing it on furniture, walls and similar when shooting video or food photos. I don’t use it that much any more since UBeesize is a lot more versatile and I, sadly, don’t need the heavy lifting that Manfrotto can deliver, any more.
HP ProBook 4540s with Intel i7 CPU and 8 GiB of RAM and 750 GB HDD. Sadly, I haven’t upgraded to a newer laptop in a long while. Happily, I was able to hack around it and upgrade it. Mostly because I can’t find a perfect laptop… Upgraded with an SSD for the operating system and main data, the HDD is now only for storage, which extends its lifetime considerably. I use it not only for editing but also for software development, web development and mobile apps development. It’s my main tool for work when I’m not shooting. Running Linux Manjaro and it’s super snappy.
With my phone now having faster hardware and more RAM than my laptop, I do most of my photo editing in Snapseed, and I’m looking into more advanced ways of utilizing it for heavy lifting I know it can do.
There’s also a RaspberryPi media center with a 1 TB hard drive that’s shared on the network for backups and easy access.
I was lucky enough to get Vanguard Up-Rise 43 sling bag as a gift. Sling is good because the camera is easily accessible and it takes only a few seconds to get it out and shoot if you pre-set the camera settings. It’s got a lot of handy pockets and compartments, including a rain cover, who’s usefulness caught me by surprise when I needed it most.
Even though I rarely use it any more, since I gave most of my equipment away, it’s a great bag that doesn’t need any upgrades.
Now you know.
My bag, literal and metaphorical, is still not full. Things can be taken out and better things put in. If you are starting out, did this encourage you to get out and start shooting even with your smartphone?
What’s in your bag? What’s the basic you cannot go without?
Because these times are rare and far between, we appreciate them. If every day looked like this, we would take it for granted. Just like we do yellow Sun, and Kriptonians are fascinated when they stop by.
Why can’t we have nice things?
Because we experience our today only compared to our yesterday. If we’re flying high for a while, it’s no longer high. It’s regular.
Does that mean we need the lows to appreciate the highs? Yes and no. We need the experience of change, an anchor point. This is often used in marketing and negotiation. With the experience of change, and an anchor to compare things to, it’s easier to appreciate good times.
We have a certain capacity to deal with challenges and our minds are naturally attracted to solving problems. That means that in bad times we’ll solve the problems that got us there. It also means that in good times we’ll look for problems and often make them up. That makes our good times feel bad too.
There’s no such thing as fixing all the problems and being happy until the end of time.
Knowing that we give ourselves problems to solve and that we’re always going to be at capacity or close… sucks, on surface.
There’s a huge opportunity to recognize in this and potentially a recipe for living a fulfilling life.
Fill your mind with things worthy of being in it. Empty it daily. You can’t fill something that’s already full.
Like the two boats in the picture, there are two types of truth. Two brothers, same, but different.
One is true only when enough people believe it’s true. Other is true regardless who believes it’s true.
It’s important to recognize which one you’re dealing with.
When I ask people for me examples of each type, common example they give me for the first is whether God exists or not. Sigh. Regardless of whether you believe in God or not, the belief doesn’t create it. It existed or didn’t exist before you believed or didn’t believe. So God is not a good example for the first type.
So what’s a good example for the first type, a truth that’s only true if enough people believe in it? Value. Of anything, really, but let’s take money for instance. Money is a number on the paper or bits in the computer. The only thing that allows you to exchange it for other goods with people you don’t know is that they believe they’ll be able to exchange it for something else from someone else they don’t know. If enough people stopped believing in its value, it would no longer have value. Other societal constructs often also fall into this type.
Evidence based, reproducible, non-anecdotal things are the second type. 2 + 2 = 2 * 2 Gravity attracts matter. When you push things hard enough they move. Other sciency stuff.
When does confusing one type of truth for the other cause problems?