Sometimes a hero would tell you to “do the hard thing”. Because courage is not easy. Consistent effort is not easy. Telling the truth is not easy. Good things don’t come easy. As with many things, this is technically true but oversimplified. It paints the wrong picture.
Sometimes though, the all-loving spiritual people, a therapist maybe, a loving mother maybe, a good friend who really cares about you, might encourage you to give yourself a break. They might help you let go of the heavy burdens you carry. They might tell you things like “don’t try so hard” or “it should be easy” or, my favorite, “just be yourself”.
Once again, this is technically helpful advice, but oversimplified. It doesn’t take into consideration the nuances of the situation they’re giving you advice on. It helps, but sometimes it doesn’t.
To the hero, I would point them to a person suffering from PTSD. In the mind of someone with PTSD, they’re always doing the hard thing. They never get a break. When this person hears a hero saying to the world “Be courageous! Do the hard thing!” or some variation on that, this person suffering from PTSD feels validated in what they’re doing internally. They may not even know they have PTSD, they may have no memory of the trauma to begin with. They absolutely should stop doing this hard thing they do internally, and seek some help to relieve themselves. The hero being heroic and preaching heroism is inadvertently reinforcing this trauma. It’s terrible advice.
It’s hard to show an example of the loving person telling you to go easy on yourself. It’s hard to illustrate how it looks like. But sometimes you do need to be a bit tougher on yourself. In some moments, you need to be honest with yourself about how you behaved. Maybe you were just expressing yourself (nothing wrong with that right?), and you behaved dismissively and was very insensitive to others around you. Maybe you said something deeply hurtful to someone, but you won’t acknowledge that you need to apologize and seek their forgiveness, that you have something to be guilty about.
So then, there’s never an abstract answer for “Should I do the hard thing?” The answer is always in the specifics of the situation. You must judge for yourself in the moment, every moment individually. This is part of our sovereignty in life. We can’t go into a situation already knowing the answer. Every situation is entirely unique. You have to pay attention to the situation itself and judge what’s right and what’s wrong. Every situation will be different. Sometimes mercy and compassion, sometimes rules and restraint.
What I’ve found to come with this is that people who weren’t there in the situation I was, who didn’t know what I know, they tend to judge too quickly and broadly without understanding the situation fairly. So when I do the right thing, as I believe it to be, I more often get judged harshly and attacked and assaulted verbally and emotionally than I get praised for doing the right thing. This is to say that it’s very common for people to not have the correct judgment to situations they’re not directly experiencing. You can flip this also to understand that most of the time, if you’re not the one experiencing the situation yourself, your judgments and opinions of things you see in the world are completely false and very very divorced from reality. Because it’s not yours to judge. So refraining from that behavior will save you a lot of trouble and heartache.