Balancing Grit With Love

By Mary Kay Slowikowski | December 06, 2018

Grit has two components: Passion and Perspective. 

I believe that when people experience difficult setbacks in their lives they inherit a tenacity that fuels their ability to recover and conquer challenges. From what I’ve seen, people with setbacks don't get discouraged and they don't give up easily; they become exceptionally good at overcoming obstacles and work hard to heal and carry on. When we change our perspective and grow from our setbacks this new way of thinking distracts from our previous doubts and allows us to succeed. 

I went through a very difficult time in my life where I experienced severe panic attacks which led to agoraphobia. My anxiety prevented me from leaving my home, connecting with friends and family, and inhibited my ability to fight and overcome this life altering challenge. However, after years of struggling I knew I needed to find my purpose again. But I couldn’t do it alone. I realized that I needed support from the people in my life to encourage me to conquer this setback and help me get moving again.

Ultimately, I realized that other people needed to weigh in and help me become aware of my fears; to help me start the healing process. It was important for me to be able to confront reality and trust that the honest, sometimes tough, advice from those around me was in support of my efforts to begin healing. I gathered that I needed to balance both my own perseverance along with the compassion and guidance from friends and family.

My time in recovery taught me about balancing grit with love.

Grit teaches us that setbacks don't need to discourage us but can instead inspire us to tackle challenges. We need perseverance to avoid abandoning responsibilities in the face of obstacles. We need to say to ourselves, "I have overcome setbacks in the past, why couldn’t I do it again”?

Here are four ways that we grow our grit from the inside out: Interest, Practice, Purpose & Hope.

1) Interest - Love what you do, passion begins with intrinsically enjoying what you do. Without experimenting, you can't figure out which interests will stick and which won't.

  1. Ask yourself, "where does my mind wander"?  "What matters most to me"?  In contrast, "what do I find absolutely unbearable"?
  2. Avoid forcing an interest on yourself without exploring it. Remember, you will be satisfied with your job when you do something that fits your personal interest.

2) Practice - Desire to improve. One form of perseverance is the daily discipline of trying to do things better than we did yesterday. "I want to improve."

  1. You need full concentration and effort.
  2. You need repetition with reflection and refinement.

3) Purpose - The idea that what we do matters to people other than ourselves.

  1. Purpose is the answer to the question, "why am I doing this?"
  2. Change your current work to enhance its connection to your core values.

4) Hope - Our own efforts can improve our future.

  1. Optimistic self talk- when you keep searching for ways to change your situation, for the better, you will stand a chance of finding them. 
  2. Growth Mindset - you can update your beliefs about intelligence and talent. They can both improve with effort. 

At various points, in big ways and small, I got knocked down. But through balancing grit with love, I didn't stay down. I learned that grit only prevails if we get up and keep fighting.

What I hope for you: To love what you do, have a desire to improve, feel your work is important and keep going. Indulge in the vision of a positive future with a balance of grit and love.  


"Walking together..." By Thomas Leuthard (CC 2.0)

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