Most people would welcome a life without struggle. They have wishes, visions and plans that they want to enjoy stress-free. They want to live – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s possible to become so obsessed with the idea of a struggle-free existence that everything that gets in its way is bothersome. This can result in a life that is settled for, rather than truly lived to the full. It might not be turbulent, but opportunities could be going unnoticed.
Struggle in itself, taking out the emotional attachment, is nothing bad. It wakes you up, gives you a shake and shows you that something is amiss or needs change. Sure, the feeling isn’t a happy one. It can be unpleasant and when you’re in the middle of tough times, you don’t want to hear about one door closing and another opening. You’re sick and tired of being given advice. You just want the struggle to go away so you can get on with your regular life path again.
However, to struggle is okay. Difficult times are there to highlight something you’d miss because you’re so busy living your everyday life. The struggle is a tool that points you in a particular direction and gives you the chance to have a closer look. It’s maybe not that pleasant, but you can survive and learn from it. Just be gentle with yourself and don’t pass blame. You’re a capable, unique and wonderful human being, and can overcome difficulties and make the most out of life.
How to deal with the tough times
Take a moment to try to put all the facts together. How big is the struggle here? What happened and what are the possible consequences? Try to take a wider perspective on the outcomes. Even if they seem impossible, what could happen other than what you currently see? Sometimes a detail can throw you into emotional chaos and escaping the chaos starts with becoming aware and sorting through it as much as possible.
It all starts with you. To become more aware of what’s going on, you need to start to see details in your life more clearly. Focus on how a specific smile, word or situation made you feel. What is troubling you now and how does that make you feel?
Sometimes you take responsibility for chaos that isn’t fully yours because you’re emotionally attached to someone or something. Setting imaginary boundaries is a good way to deal with this. Picture the struggle in your mind and think about whether the chaos is actually related to your life.
Difficult times may show you that a change in direction is needed to achieve what you really want. Whenever you change direction or behaviour, there is generally something you leave behind. It may be something as small as not having that extra coffee every day because you wish to change your lifestyle habits to improve your health. Let go, experience the feeling of ‘loss’ and move forward in a more positive direction.
Regardless of how difficult and hard a struggle is, it’s not determined by its size. One detail can make a situation hurt more than a big change event. If something makes you struggle, even if the whole world thinks it’s immaterial, be aware that it’s your life and your strife. No matter how big or small, it makes you feel uncomfortable and shakes your foundation. You’re the one who needs to deal with it, so make a decision – you can blame yourself for being weak or you can be gentle with yourself and get through it with open eyes and awareness. You know what’s best for you.
Whenever possible, find people you can connect with and trust. Tell them how you would like to be approached should a difficult situation arise or when sharing your momentary sorrows. The usual advice and ‘all’s-going-to-be-well’-style comments are perhaps not the sort of help you need. You know you’re able to overcome hard patches, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. But remember, you have done it before. What you need is someone who’ll respect your ability to be capable. You need an ear that listens, eyes that see your uniqueness and maybe arms to hold and comfort you for a while.
Find a safe haven
As much as awareness and observation is important, when the struggle is too much to take, find a safe haven. Give all the thinking, writing down and checking a break, and find the places and activities that help you restore energy. Again, it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it works for you. Perhaps you’d enjoy a walk, listening to your favourite music, working out at the gym, meditating – do what makes you feel good.
Often, a struggle in your life can highlight something that needs your attention. What makes it feel difficult or even overwhelming is your emotional entanglement with the issue. Expressing your feelings is a powerful tool that will help you to see clearly and enable you to eject the struggle out of your system. There are lots of outlets in which you might choose to convey your emotions, such as drawing, writing, singing or simply talking. You’ll soon discover what works best for you.
Words: Eveline Lonoce
This article was originally published under the title ‘Time to live’ in Issue 15 – A new direction