On a daily basis, in my office, on Facebook, and through email and messages, I see the struggles that people go through and it encompasses all parts of life, with a direct domino effect. Struggle is nothing new, but when it is us going through it, we forget that others are going through it too. The loneliness and the black clouds shadow any sunshine and for many, any positivity even feels like poison. Yet without any action, those struggling begin to feel as if they are drowning a slow death. Just as we are taught not to panic in the water, finding calmness within the storm of struggle has to be a priority. Or as Rosa Luxemburg is quoted as saying, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”
One of my favorite tales is An Old Cherokee Tale of Two Wolves.
One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’
5 Ways to Break Through the Struggle
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
1. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Stop hanging out with negative people who don’t support your dreams and aspirations and only feed into your stress and worry. This also goes for those you encounter online (Twitter, Facebook, etc). You have every right to create boundaries and hit the Un-Friend or Block button.
2. Choose What Speaks to You
If the person handing out the Kool Aid has you wondering if they are legit, you probably already know the answer. Choose the people and the situations that speak to what you want in your life. Also, spell out what you want in your life and don’t take second best (within reason and being realistic). If you want that promotion and someone else got it, don’t fester, pout and cry. Instead, keep your focus forward on what you want to happen. It may be a better position, out of the blue, comes up for you.
3. Stop Asking Permission
It is sad to say this, but so many people (friends, family, coworkers, etc) are actually afraid of their friends/family/coworkers becoming more successful than themselves. So if you are asking permission to follow your dream, or to go after an aspiration, more times than not someone is going to find fault with it which is only going to make you second guess yourself. Stop asking permission and follow your heart (and choose what speaks to you!).
4. Stop Feeling Guilty for Your Successes
You are entitled to be happy. Yes, YOU! You are entitled to celebrate your successes and you are entitled to love life. Just because your best friend or relative is going through something, doesn’t mean you have to negate what is going right in your life. You can actually help them out more the more successful and happy you are. Oh, they may hate you for a moment, but happiness is just as contagious as depression.
5. Confront Your Fears Head On
Sometimes we know what we don’t want, and know our fears, more than we know what we do want. Make a list of what you are fearful of. Confront those fears head on by naming them and looking at them realistically. If they are fears that you have no control over (which tends to be most of them), then simply replace that fear with what you do wish to happen. If you are afraid you are going to lose your job, and seeing as you don’t control that, your boss does, spend your time doing the best job you possibly can instead of worrying about losing your job. If you are worrying over never finding someone that will love you, spend that time loving yourself and making yourself to be as loveable as possible.
1. List the struggles that you are feeding - By seeing the struggles in black and white, it can help you gain perspective and prioritize them in a logical manner rather emotionally.
2. Recognize that you are not the struggle by listing out your positive attributes (at least 10), your gratitude (at least 5 – even if just ‘I am grateful for my socks’), and your goals + passions (at least 10)
3. Don’t ignore the struggle, instead do something about it - List 5 action steps that you can take. Even just small ones. Even if it is doing the laundry or vacuuming)
4. Pursue your passions from step #2, one at a time
5. Ask for help and help others - Asking friends, family or even seeking a therapist or minister often helps put your life in perspective and helps you get that extra dose of strength to take the key and unchain yourself from the struggle. I have also seen many find perspective by helping others going through something similar, which is why group counseling has been successful. That feeling of loneliness is replaced with a sense of community.
Know that things don’t get better, we do. The struggles will always be there, but so is the strength within. Don’t get tangled up in the struggle, just focus on knowing that once you force your way through and up, the view will be spectacular!
If you are feeling suicidal due to your struggles, don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255.