Grit to Pearl
Follow nature's lead to create something new from your challenges
TO NATURE, IT’S ALL “GOOD”
If you look at nature, you can see many examples of how “good” things are created from “bad” things. For example, an oyster responds to the irritation of the “grit” (actually a parasite that drills through the shell) by creating a secretion which eventually, layer upon layer, forms a pearl. It transforms the “problem” into something new and beautiful.
Life actually depends on the “grit” and uses it as “fuel” for new growth. The failure of one life form brings about new life that is an adaptation to the problem. Decay and rot provide the ingredients for new plants. Hurricanes, fires, and other natural “disasters” invariably create a clearing for new growth.
For us, it’s the catastrophe that can lead to clarity of purpose, facing near-death that brings up the preciousness of life, and stagnation, lack of flow, and stillness that provide the ground from which new ideas for your life can be born.
The “bad” gives us the “good” in the form of new hope, added depth and meaning, and ultimately, movement with a clear direction.
BUT WE DON’T LIKE THE GRIT
A primary reason for getting stuck in our lives is in how we react to the challenges, obstacles, and other problems we face. We typically fight, deny, block, or force our way through our problems—we label something as “not good” and then wage war against the “enemy.”
The flaw with this approach is that it can amplify the issue at hand and can produce and perpetuate the very opposite of what we want. The weight doesn’t come off, the project doesn’t budge, ideas don’t flow, finances don’t improve, relationships struggle.
CHANGE CAN BE TRICKY
The reason we’re unable to move past our problems is not because we are weak or flawed in any way. We’re just not aware of how to deal with the paradoxical nature of approaching things of the mind, like change.
For example, sometimes saying “no” to something actually is a “yes” to the mind. When you try to deny yourself grandma’s deluxe apple pie to avoid “crashing” your diet, what’s the only thing you can think of? That same piece of pie, now smothered in caramel sauce and whipped cream with a side of vanilla ice cream!
What we resist, persists—great example of the many paradoxes at play!
WHY WE RESIST
It’s completely normal to initially react by resisting something that doesn’t feel good. When someone cuts you off at an intersection, or your conversation gets interrupted by the boom boom boom of a passing car’s stereo, you’re going to get angry or irritated.
But what’s not completely natural is to hang on to the resistance for too long. When a child gets upset, they let it out as they scream and cry, but then, the next moment, they’re over it and onto the next thing.
There’s a difference between what we experience and what we make it mean. When you can separate the “facts” from how you interpret them, only then do you have “room to move,” no longer stuck in the default reaction of your mind. Actually seeing and recognizing the difference between fact and interpretation is critical to freeing yourself. This is a huge challenge, because most of the time …
OUR MIND DICTATES WHAT WE CALL “REALITY”
There’s a part of the mind I call The Storyteller whose sole job is to write the meaning to the events of our lives—the “story.” The opinion I have about someone I meet, the conclusion I come up with about a situation and why it happened, how I view the world and the things in it—all come from the Storyteller. The story is being created every second I’m alive and cannot be stopped.
There’s another part of the mind I call The Evidence Finder whose job is to find “facts” to support whatever the Storyteller says is true. If the Storyteller says that life is “bad,” the Evidence Finder will look for, and always find, facts to support that. If the Storyteller thinks life is “good,” it’ll find facts to support that too.
To the Storyteller and Evidence Finder, the story is not just opinion or viewpoint, it is a statement of fact and will always be seen as such! This I consider to be the single most important factor in what keeps us stuck in our biggest problems, individually and collectively.
It is the Storyteller that makes problems show up as “problems” and stops us from doing anything truly effective with them. Seeing the story in any moment is the first essential step to dealing with any problem or situation.
At first, you don’t need or want to do anything with the problem and your reaction to it—the story. The goal is to simply “be” with whatever the present situation is. That’s quite the task when something overwhelming is happening, and your thoughts and emotions feel like they’re too intense for you to handle. It’s not easy to do sometimes, but accomplishing this can enable you to ground yourself in the midst of the storm.
When you’re no longer reacting, you can choose to take it one step further and …
TRANSFORM THE PROBLEM
Do what life does—work with the “grit” and turn it into something new and beautiful. How? One way is to shift how your story “shows up” to you. Initially, it’ll always show up however the Storyteller interprets it, but knowing there are always infinite ways of looking at things, you can take a more proactive stance and reinterpret the situation. When you do, new insights, choices, and options that were there the whole time become visible.
You can “reframe” a situation by asking questions like: What’s the hidden opportunity here? How can this serve me? What do I have to work with? These and other similar questions automatically put your mind in “creative mode” as it looks for possible answers and can now find them because it’s looking in the right place!
Over time, you can learn to play with problems a little more, be flexible in how you approach them, and be on the lookout for an opportunity to create something new.
For example, I’ve never liked having to tune my guitar every time I play, so finding the hidden opportunity to create a “pearl,” I invented an automatic guitar tuner that, with a push of a button, does it for me!
Ninety-nine percent of the game of bringing any idea to life involves the constant play of going from “problem to possibility.” That’s part of the fun! It’s the dynamic of the tension (created by struggling with a problem) and its release (thrill of creating a solution) that makes it so.
“Grit-to-pearling” the challenges you face can have a huge impact on your life.
As a life coach, I see people fighting each other, themselves, and the situations they find themselves in all the time. Take Cheryl, a single mom fighting for custody of her son. Instead of seeing her ex-husband as the enemy, we worked to find ways to change how she perceived the situation.
Eventually, she was able to see that the father loved his son just as much as she did and was doing what any parent would do to be with their child. Today, she and her son’s father are able to work together as a team in creating the very best for their child.
Changing how you perceive things at any moment is central to allowing your life to move and expand, especially through the most challenging times. We don’t have to rely on our default reactions created by the Storyteller. We have a choice.