Rising Above the Struggle

Admittedly, I’ve been struggling lately. Not a horrible heaving, treading water and having difficulty keeping afloat kind of struggle, thank goodness. But, more like a tug and pull here and there and some blocks in moving forward kind of struggle. Our general view on these struggles tends to be a nonchalant, “this sucks,” and a little negative mental chatter towards ourselves and the situation we may find ourselves in.

When these little bumps on our road come along and we find ourselves stalled or slightly rattled, the most important thing we can do is to see the value in those experiences. When I was younger and was experiencing a lot of the “difficulty staying afloat” kind of struggles, I turned to the practice of mindfulness to help me. It got me to a higher place so that I could accept my present situation as oftentimes the way to “fix” the issues were not obvious nor easy. What I found in that process was that not only was I better able to cope with very challenging situations (I’m talking physical, mental and emotional crises), but insight poured into me as to why I was going through such experiences. It opened a door to growth and learning.

The thing is, saying, “this sucks” to any trial small or big, not only distorts the reality of the situation with no particularly positive aim, but it also closes a very precious door to gaining valuable insight as to what your soul needs to learn at this time. The same goes for saying things like, “because I’m not able to do this, it must mean that I’m just not capable or talented enough to do so,” or, “I hate how I feel,” and  so on. There are reasons we experience things in life that are not what we’d consider ideal. If we were quick to label such experiences as things that suck, we’d be unnecessarily casting a negative light (at least to some degree) on some of the greatest catalysts for our growth to a better and more aware life.

What is mindfulness? In my own words it’s simply coming into the moment with full awareness and acceptance. Things are as they are. Yes, things can change, that is one of the constants in life that change is the only constant. But, in the moment, this is your reality. It’s important to look deeply into it to see it from a more objective point of view, knowing that you can grow from the experience and knowing that it will eventually change.

This isn’t about artificially imposing a positive outlook on life. It’s about being honest with yourself and looking deeply within. It’s okay to admit that you’re struggling, that you’re suffering and that life is not easy for you at a given moment. But, is it helpful to colour that experience with language that isn’t helping you see the reasons why you’re experiencing something and that isn’t helping you accept your present situation? I don’t think so. We shift out of difficulties (even if they may return to us from time to time) by taking a route that empowers us to see that there is value in our struggle. Struggle makes us stronger, not weaker. Much like lifting weights helps us to build muscle, struggle in our lives helps us to build our spirit and our inner strength.

There is a very real reason we have to be careful with what we say and think, even those things we say lightly or don’t really mean. When I say to myself: “Well I can’t do this, I guess I’m just not good enough or talented enough to pull it off,” the subconscious registers: “Not good enough, not talented enough and I can’t do this.” The subconscious mind is very suggestible and very vulnerable to whatever you feed it, whether you are joking and saying things lightly or if you really mean the words and thoughts. And, when your subconscious is being fed the wrong diet so to speak, that can have repercussions. It’s these subtle, repeated messages that accumulated over time can make you truly believe that some aspect of your life sucks or that you are incapable or that you are doomed and so on.This is why when we aren’t feeling great about something, we must remind ourselves to step into mindfulness and pay attention to those thoughts and make a conscious effort to shift them by using more empowering language and by being objective about our situation. We must be strict with ourselves or else… Take a look at this excerpt from one of my favourite books, The Little Prince:

the little prince

This is what’s going on when we plant these not so positive seeds into our subconscious… we go around in a circle. E.g. Why so glum? I’m a failing and I can’t do it, this sucks. Why can’t you do it? Because I’m not [fill in whatever it is that you feel you lack be it time, health, talent, etc.] therefore I can’t do it and so this sucks. Seriously now, was there even an opening to shift this I can’t do it-I suck cycle? Why not try instead: I’m struggling through this. Why are you struggling? Because [insert mindfulness here which may enlighten you as to what is truly going on in your life and what needs to be done to shift out of this place].

I think even if we’re not in a place where we need to turn to mindfulness to live through a situation, it’s still a very valuable tool and way of life that can help us through any situation. We should consider the awareness that we’ve received a gentle nudge, rather than a forceful strike, a blessing and take heed. When things in life aren’t running smoothly, these are merely signs of it being time to go within and do the work. I’m not implying in any way that the challenging things in your life were cultivated by a wrong outlook or approach to life. This may be the case in some circumstances. But, when we truly step into a higher perspective we may see that our struggle is simply the soul’s yearning to really catalyze its growth and learning.

So, sure, I’m struggling a bit right now. But, it doesn’t suck and it doesn’t mean that I’m not capable or valuable. Not that any of you would necessarily place those judgments upon me or anyone else… but how quick are we to do it to ourselves on a daily basis? It means that I have been given a small signal that it’s time to go within and remove the barriers that aren’t allowing the most magnificent version of myself to shine out. And, we can all do this.

© 2012, Melina Schetakis. All rights reserved.

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