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How to be tough and clement at the same time?

Kirjoittanut: Jemina Laitinen - tiimistä FLIP Solutions.

Esseen tyyppi: Akateeminen essee / 3 esseepistettä.

Lujasti lempeä
Maaret Kallio
Erik Bertrand Larssen
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 10 minuuttia.

It feels that nowadays it is normal to aiming to have a perfect life and to be as efficient and productive as possible. It is commonly talked about how everyone should have goals, plans and future visions to go forward to. Time needs to be used wisely and efficient way that there is meaning to live life. According to psychologist and author Maaret Kallio (2016, 20-23), perfect life is aimed in every field of life: work, wellbeing, parenthood, relationship and even body. 

Even though it should be self-evidence, that perfection is not existing, it is still something we try to aim and achieve. According to Kallio (2016, 20-23), perfect life is two words concept which is sold together all the time, but in real life impossible to execute. Perfection is an illusion that has caught us perfectly. It promises us a possibility to become an accepted and admired person who is completely part of the community. It would take us to free ourselves from uncertainty, shame, guilt and problems. That is why perfection is so desired quality. (Kallio 2016, 20-23.) 

For many people in the world, there is so many possibilities and opportunities to live life. That can cause stress. Because it is possible, it should be used. Social media and people around praises those who can do many different things, achieve their goals and success. There are also standpoints to use those opportunities and privilege to achieve, dream and aim because it is possible. According to mental coach and author Erik Bertrand Larssen (2019) aiming, achieving and having goals are things that makes a human being happy after all. The human being can handle more than they believe that they can, and it is important to push themselves to the limits (Larssen 2019). 

Larssen (2019) highlights the meaning of goals. Without any, life is like an undefined journey in which everything happens accidentally. Goals give direction, motivation and make it easier to make decisions in life (Larssen 2019). It is true that without any goal life can be coincidental and make people feel meaningless. But does it mean that there need to be goals all the time? How about then when the goal has been achieved? According to Larssen (2019), it is time to set the new one. Does it make life like a race or performance in which there is always something to achieve? Does it make a human being like a robot who has tasks after tasks? Are there disadvantages to having goals all the time? Larssen answer is no. 

Larssen’s point of view sounds a bit harsh and strict when Kallio highlights acceptance and mercifulness of life. The human being is not a machine, which can be disciplined as much as like, treat between tasks and continue like that endlessly. At some point, there is going to be a stop. (Kallio 2016.) How to combine those viewpoints in life to be at the same time strong and determined to achieve and succeed but at the same time maintain the tenderness to accept own self. How to be clement and hard to own self at the same time?


Choosing the right goal makes achieving more fun, not stressful

According to Larssen (2019), a goal is important, but it needs to be a good one. A good goal is precise, gives motivation and it affects emotions. In that way only thinking about the goal gives more motivation. It is easier to find a good goal for yourself when your needs and values lead it. The goal helps you to channel your energy and focus in the right direction and gives motivation. Those things will raise the possibilities to achieve the goal. (Larssen 2019.)

Therefore, the goal itself is not a bad thing, it is good. There is nothing wrong to have goals and go towards them. It feels good to have something to go forward with. Larssen (2019) points out, that it is crucial to find the goal or thing that you are passionate about. It is also important to think, is the end-goal only thing which you are passionate about. Are those actions that need to be taken that kind of that you want to do them. If the actual end goals are the only thing that motivates you but not actions forward it, is it a good goal for you? These could be some important topics to understand when setting the goal. Is the goal meaningful and relevant, or does it come from eternal influences? 

Kallio (2016) also see the meaning of living life parallel with values. Many times, unhappiness and misery become when values are forgotten, or that rush and stress have become more powerful in life (Kallio 2016). It seems that values are the most important to remember when a goal is chosen. The goal needs to be based on own values. Otherwise, it can cause the wrong direction of life and cause that way miserable in the end. It also causes load and stress which makes life tight and busy at the same time. Good level basic rights can cause that happiness to become tensed and stressed goal which disables to live and acceptance (Kallio 2016, 22 & 24).

In that sense, it is important to understand that goals can be modified and fixed afterwards. (Larssen 2019.) The point is to find the motivating goal and be flexible to modify it if needed. It is important to understand that even though you need to reset or give up on the goal, which is not relevant for you anymore, does not make you failed. Your life can be changed, your values can be modified during your life and you will grow as a human being and a person. It is only a good thing that you can let go of the irrelevant goal which will not cause happiness for you. 

That can be the problem of goals and demanding, as for when personality is perfectionist or goal-oriented. It can cause the feeling of failure if there is a need to change the goal. For example, Kallio (2016, 22 & 24) points out that when perfection is aimed at lifestyle, there is no room for flexibility and adaptation to new situations. Easily, it causes also the mindset to be annoyed by other’s imperfection. When putting Kallio’s and Larssen’s thoughts together, the concept of goals setting starts to feel clearer and make sense. Even though there are goals and true willingness to go forward and achieve with high standard performance, there needs to be flexibility to conclude that aimed goal is not relevant, wanted or even good anymore. Acceptance of the fact that life situation, values or person itself can change and there is nothing wrong with that. It is not the failure if the direction of life will be changed and in that way goal also. 


Understanding own capabilities and inner needs

Mercifulness and acceptance have become more talked about topics since there are more and more symptoms of tiredness and depression. People seem to be tired of trying more and harder. The concept of clemency has raised to be featured to develop (Kallio 2016). That is good that clemency, mercifulness and acceptance are topics that are more talked about and more valued features in life. For many people, it is hard to understand what the concept of clemency is in the middle of rush and stress. How to accept own weakness and humanity, when there are tasks, goals and both internal and external expectations?  

According to Kallio (2016, 70) acceptance is possible when own emotions, thoughts, occurrences are openly present. Acceptance requires attendance. A true attendance requires bravery. Attendance is a space where emotions and feelings are accepted as they are. They aren’t afraid, escaped or even liked but just letting them be and go. (Kallio 2016, 70.) So, according to Kallio (2016) clemency is one part of being brave and Larssen (2019) also reminds the importance of being brave. Why those two things; bravery and clemency are thought to be separated and unattached from each other? It is easily seen to putting opposite concepts together, even though they are not opposite. They belong together and would be the key to balance life with high-quality goals with sensitiveness and mercifulness. Key to achieve at the same time when keep acceptance to own self and to other. 


Does concept being clement and tough work?

Why does it feel that for the human being it is so hard to understand the concept of being though and clemency at the same time? Maybe it is because of black-and-white thinking. It is easy to understand both clemency and toughness wrongly. A person who is naturally clement and not so goal-oriented can understand the toughness in that way that there need to be just sacrifices and hard work when life is performance. On the other hand, naturally, the goal-oriented perfectionist who likes to do a lot of different things can understand clemency to be life without goals or achievements. 

Is the problem too narrow mindset and black-and-white thinking? Maybe yes. Also, the nature of human being is to verify own view of life and own believes. That can make the outcome that naturally tough persons try to highlight their toughness by choosing for example books and concepts which support their natural procedure. At the same time persons who naturally are merciful and clement, wants to verify the importance of those features because they can be afraid to set goals to go forward to. 

Larssen (2019) also reminds that human being is naturally lazy. During life, there are possibilities to forgot what is to be lively, energised and full of vigour to do things. Many times, people lost those things and become too comfortable. (Larssen 2019.) Comfort can be understood in that way that human being is lazy to make differences to their life. Laziness can be the act of laying on the couch and being incapable to get things done. But is laziness also to acting in that way which is natural and easy for that person? It can appear as working too much, too long and too hard, for example. If it is easy for that person to be hard and productive all the time, is laziness actually to do those things and forgot for example to spend time with family and friends or be unable to develop emotional skills. 

According to Larssen (2019), a too comfortable life can also cause misery and disappointment about your behaviour and performance. It is important to live life that way that in the end, you don’t feel that you betrayed yourself by stopping to do something. (Larssen 2019.) Even though Larssen’s opinions are related to the laziness that people do not set any goals or go forward to achieve them, he also points out, that goals can be set in any field of life. Goals can be related to work and studies, but they can be also related to family, friendship, self-development physically and mentally (Larssen 2019). 

It is normal and natural that a workaholic or sport-oriented person sets their goal for those field of life. Naturally, a family-oriented person wants to become a better parent and partner. These can make people highlight their natural features and forgot those skills and life fields they are not so productive or naturally good at. Again, natural strengths are strengthened. It is important to start to look at life more openly and reflect on your acting to see, what are those topics and fields are needed to develop and set goals for them. That would make life more variable and make the person feel of success in more field of life. It would also balance life between working hard and being clement at the same time. 

On the other hand, is this the problem with the concept of being tough and clement? That we need to set goals in every field of life and try to be better in everything? As Kallio (2016, 20-23) says, perfection is the goal in everything and that causes the problems and tiredness of life. 


Give up perfection and pay attention to own emotions

It seems that problems come from black-and-white thinking together with aiming perfection. Even though it is fact that perfection does not exist, it becomes easier to the goal in every field of life. If there are goals and aims in every field of life, it can cause the feeling that everything should be in its control. Even our emotions and how we feel in a different situation. People force perfection, even in emotions. According to Kallio (2016, 79), it is a delusion to think that everything is in its authority, regarding controlling the mind and emotions. No one is perfect and no one will be. Everyone has obstacles and days of sadness and upset. It is part of being human to go through different emotions. (Kallio 2016, 79-80.)

No one can make unfavourable emotions or thought to appear, but it is possible to act differently when they do. It is not essential to make those emotions disappear but bring something more beneficial. (Kallio 2016, 115.) Many times, emotions catch the thinking process and make them negative. It can also cause the vexatious spiral, in which negative emotions and thought goes around and make negativity stronger. That can make the person unable to make actions when own mind is telling negative things about own self and own life. Bad is more powerful than good, Kallio (2016, 115) says. That is why it is important to recognize own emotions and pay attention to them. When an emotion is recognized, it is easier to act and treat it wisely. Kallio (2016, 117) brings out that good things are easy to forget when bad things are highlighted, so it is important to have some routines on how to manage them. Kallio’s point emphasizes the thought of why it is so easy to stay stuck in own negative emotions and focus on own imperfection. That can cause a very poisoned way of thinking.

In that sense, it is important to pay attention to how emotions and thoughts are said in own head. Larssen (2019) talks about inner dialogue, the conversation people do in their minds. According to Larssen (2019), the human being is talking to themselves all the time. It is like a story that is told in a person’s head. That is why there is many times very strong opinions and believes about own personality, own actions and also how other people think about them. (Larssen 2019). That can be the reason, why people can be so demanding of themselves; they tell a negative story to themselves. 

If a person is talking negatively to themselves, thoughts and emotions are also spinning around negativity all the time. If there is an inner dialogue about how bad a person is when can not get everything done or a goal hasn’t been achieved, that can cause the afraid to set new goals or put the person to try harder with full of stress. Because own mind tells so. 

As Kallio (2016) says, when emotions are recognized, it is easier to treat them more constructively. If negative emotions are more powerful than positive ones, it is important to fill your inner dialogue with positive thoughts. Larssen (2019) has made mantras which he repeats to himself when he needs to do something difficult or there is a need for courage. According to him, it is crucial how much our inner dialogue affects people’s mindset and how they can manage their thoughts and acts.

Could people let go from the aimed perfection, when their negative emotions and inner dialogue would be more recognized and understood that those thoughts are negative and not constructive? Would that make it possible to have more flexibility and clemency in life?


How to execute the concept of toughness and clemency

The concept of being tough and clement at the same time would start by choosing goal and goals that are right and valuable at that moment, and it is based on true values. Larssen (2019) recommends thinking, what kind of goal makes you do everything for it, even if there would be mistakes and difficulties because they can’t be avoided. When there is the right goal, it is easier and more pleasant to do choices that bring you closer to it. In that way, choices don’t feel like sacrifices (Larssen 2019). That would bring more clemency to a goal-oriented mindset. 

As Larssen (2019) says, it is also crucial to be flexible to modify or even change the goal if needed. That would improve the acceptance and mercifulness of life when there is allowance to change the direction if own assets need that. Like Kallio (2016) highlights, no one is and won’t be perfect. 



Kallio, M. 2016. Lujasti lempeä. WSOY.
Larssen, E. 2019. Paras. Bazar äänikirja. BookBeat. Julkaisupäivä BookBeatissa 3.4.2019. Kääntäjä: Kivelä, P. Lukija, Vauhkonen,P.

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