According to one of my favorite authors, Eckhart Tolle , in his book ‘Stillness Speaks’, ‘When you say ‘yes’ to what is, you become aligned with the power and intelligence of Life itself. Only then can you become an agent for positive change in the world.’
In other words, what he is saying is, if you resist saying ‘yes,’ then Life will be an endless series of struggles.
Are you struggling today just to get through the day itself? Does struggle have a significant presence in your life?
So, how do you behave from day to day? Are you stressed, anxious, irritable? Do you greet each day with excitement and anticipation? Or would you rather pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep?
Your responses to these questions are fairly good indicators of whether or not you see life as a daily grind that contains the component of struggle in it.
If you’re like me, you probably grew up in a household where struggle was a constant, underlying theme that played itself out in a variety of ways. Beliefs about life and how it is, have been passed down to each of us from previous generations.
Here, in America, our beliefs about life are deeply rooted in a set of standards called the Puritan ethic. The basis for this ethic is that if you’re not hard at work, miserably toiling away, you are living an immoral, impure life. The value and worthiness of everything we do or don’t do, say or don’t say is measured by this standard.
When we are conditioned by a set of standards such as these, we are voluntarily committing ourselves to having struggle present in our life.
Years ago, I read a small paperback book called ‘Life Was Never Meant to be a Struggle’ by Stuart Wilde. In it, Wilde calls struggle ‘a programmed response, natural to many who often find themselves struggling without realizing they’re doing so.’ He cites that the first step in reducing and eliminating struggle from your life is to identify how it appears in your life.
As a child can you recall hearing statements like, ‘You have to work hard if you want to be the best or want to succeed?’ ‘Life isn’t easy, that’s just the way it is!’ ‘You gotta do whatever it takes to make it happen!’ ‘No pain, no gain!’ The list of messages goes on and on. Inherent in all of them is the theme of struggle. I am sure you have your own personal recollections of how the struggle mentality and belief system was instilled in you at a very young age.
In our practice as Life Coaches, Chris and I can say with certainty that over the years nearly all of our clients have some type of struggle mentality in one or more areas of their life. For many, struggling has actually become a habit, an addiction.
When we believe that life is hard, challenging, a constant uphill, upstream battle, we are set up for a less than joyous life experience.
Based on years of assisting individuals with creating solutions to eliminate struggle from their lives, I have identified a list of predominant scenarios when you include struggle in Life’s equation. Review this list as it will assist you to create awareness and to see if you are a ‘struggle-holic.’ Awareness is the first step in healing this addiction which then leads you to creating new habits and solutions. Here is how struggle may manifest itself in your life
1. You are pessimistic and more often see the glass as half empty rather than half full.
2. You tend to give up on creating success before you even get started by sabotaging opportunities. You may possess a ‘why bother’ mentality.
3. By setting unrealistic goals for yourself, you may become a ‘workaholic’ because you believe struggle is moral and noble and validates your existence and worthiness. More struggle arises when you drive yourself to get to a destination that you never seem to get to.
4. You may spend your life playing the role of victim so you can justify your belief that you are suppose to spend your life struggling.
5. You may play the role of martyr that sees struggle as a way of receiving attention and love.
6. You may struggle simply because on a deeper level you want someone to ‘save’ you and prove that they love you.
To further witness the presence of struggle, you may do so by reviewing all aspects of your life. Identify if any of the following aspects of your life have a component of struggle built-in to them: 1. your emotional state, 2. your physical body, 3. your relationships, 4. your finances and/or career, 5. your attitudes, beliefs and habits, 6. your ability to handle challenges and 7. your spiritual connection.
Once you have identified how struggle is present in your life you can begin the process of eliminating it. Up until now, struggle has served some purpose for you. Know this: struggle, if unchecked, is a ceaseless, life-draining battle that you fight with yourself!
Eckhart Tolle describes struggle as ‘a constant undercurrent of unease, tension, and discontent.’ Struggle is essentially unnatural. Struggle is action laced with negative emotion. It is a habit, and like any habit that is unwanted, it requires commitment and due diligence to eliminate it from appearing as a cast member on your life’s stage. The elimination of struggle is therefore an ‘inside job.’ Removing it from your life experience requires you to possess the willingness to give it up as part of your daily routine once and for all!
Like most of life’s challenges, its origins and presence are based on the level of self-esteem we each live with. Most people who struggle possess low self-esteem. They struggle because they are seeking acceptance, acknowledgment and approval from others. They are constantly worried about what other people think about them. Our society is masterful at perpetuating and reinforcing the struggle mentality by constantly reminding us that ‘who we are’ and ‘what we have’ define our value and worth.
Be willing to look at the role struggle has and may still be playing in your life. Notice how it cuts off your natural ease and flow of life. See how it has been programmed in your mind and then acknowledge that struggling does not give you the results you truly desire for your life.
Understand that your struggle, whatever form it currently appears, is inherently linked to your past. Early on you were somehow convinced that struggle was natural and had some special value that must play a significant role in your life. Like most people, you adopted struggle rather than designing a life that represents a series of inspired actions and results that manifested with effortless ease.
Any struggle you are experiencing, be it with finances, health, relationships, whatever, possesses an underlying negative emotion that justifies the struggle mentality. Begin a new habit by asking yourself, ‘What is the underlying emotion that I am experiencing now that is enabling me to feel like a struggler in life?’
As a Life Coach, I have witnessed some incredible breakthroughs and transformations when a so-called struggler becomes clear about and identifies the function of struggling in his or her life. Like any dysfunctional behavior, it thrives in the dark. By identifying and acknowledging the presence of struggle in your life and the unhealthy purpose it serves, you are shedding light on it. This is how you begin to eliminate it from your life.
The true process of life is one of ease, of ebb and flow, of peaks and valleys. When we struggle, we cannot accept nor experience this natural process. Instead, we are challenged by the very nature of the process of life itself.
When we drop the struggle by letting go of our conditioned past, we begin to notice subtle changes in our life. Life becomes easy! You do the math! See what happens when you remove struggle from your life’s equation.
To learn more about the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, request a free coaching session by filling out the form on the right hand side of this page.
Recommended reading: The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle