psychology | August 22, 2019

When Should We Use Our Grit? Psychologist and Bestselling Author Angela Duckworth Explains.

Renowned psychologist Angela Duckworth joins Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, for an enlightening conversation about grit, bravery, and challenging yourself outside of your comfort zone. 

How do you get better at things you’re not comfortable doing? Host Reshma Saujani is uncomfortable using her hands to fix things, whether it be putting together furniture or trouble-shooting her devices. Saujani admits she was never taught how to fix things as a little girl, and as an adult, she finds herself losing patience and becoming easily frustrated. So she turned to Angela Duckworth for help: “The feeling of not being comfortable with something is a phobia,” Duckworth explains. “And the treatment for a phobia is extremely effective: exposure therapy. You learn just by seeing it’s not that bad after all.”


Pushing ourselves to do things we’re not comfortable with, then, has a benefit and a value. It offers us exposure, and teaches us that our fears are not definitive. But what about dealing with frustration? Duckworth explains that frustration tolerance is a big part of being gritty. The ability to tolerate frustration, make mistakes, and repeatedly fail, can predict outcomes later in life; college performance, for example.


But, says Duckworth, grit is less important when it comes to the smaller stuff. In those instances, it’s more about grit’s second-cousin, self-control, which she defines as the ability “to do things that are not immediately pleasurable, but are good for you.”  Self-control is like grit in that it requires overcoming a competing impulse. However, the important distinction is that self-control is necessary all the time, while grit is more relevant to high accomplishments and life-changing goals.


You can listen to the podcast here.


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