Why struggles are good for us and what to do about them
Everyone has days where life gets in the way, we struggle at work, struggle at home, struggle to get motivated, struggle to make a decision, struggle to get to the next level in business, struggling financially, struggling to get that promotion or new job. Struggle, struggle, struggle!
We all have struggles and challenges to overcome. Sometimes you must accept you’re are having a rough day. It happens. It’s what you do next that determines if you continue to struggle or turn your struggles around into opportunities.
Here’s a metaphor as to why we need to struggle sometimes.
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were life’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. – Author unknown
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Remember nature needs no help, just no interference. There are processes of life, things we all go through. The struggles are a part of our journey and are preparing us for what awaits. They are preparing us to fly.
If you are struggling with something right now, here’s how to handle it.
Firstly, don’t resist. If someone pushes you, it’s natural to want to push back and so you do. This exacerbates the problem and often you end up in a win-lose situation. The problem with a win-lose outcome, is the person on the losing side (and it might be you), will resent the winner. Anything other than a win-win is a lose-lose outcome.
What really causes you to struggle and suffer, is your resistance to the situation, resistance to change. Look at what you are struggling with and ask yourself, “Is this something I can change? If so, then take immediate action and change how you think, how you feel and change what you are currently doing.
If you are struggling with something you can’t change, then you either have two choices; accept that you can’t change the situation and let go of the negative feelings or, continue to struggle and make yourself and others around you miserable.
Look for the good in adversity
Secondly, look for the good in adversity. Sometimes it’s hard to believe, what feels like the end often opens up new opportunities. Look back at the times when what felt like a struggle turned out to present you with an amazing opportunity. A new door opened, a new relationship developed, a new business opportunity presented itself, a better job or even a more compatible relationship.
As Og Mandino says, “Every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.”
You learn things in adversity you would never learn without a struggle. Struggling causes you to change and move outside your comfort zone. Struggling is like muscle tension, the more you learn from your struggles, the stronger you become.
Thirdly, if you are going to change something (or yourself) and resolve the problem, you need a strategy. Sometimes when you are struggling, you become paralyzed with fear. This causes stress which affects your performance.
One of the best ways to take control of your struggles, is to step back from the emotions and to approach your problem using the 8 step problem solving formula.
You may not need to ask every single question as you work through the formula, but working through each question will take out the emotions you are feeling about your struggles and give you clarity around who, how, where, when and why you are struggling.
1. Identify the Problem
- What are you currently struggling with?
- Why is this a problem for you?
- What assumptions are you making about the problem?
- How are your assumptions contributing to the problem?
2. Identify the Cause
- What is causing you to struggle?
- Who or what caused the problem to happen?
- When and how did it happen?
- Where did it happen?
- How are you contributing to the problem?
3. Identify the Impact
- What will happen if you ignore the problem?
- At what point will it become a bigger problem?
- Will resolving the problem create further struggles?
- How will doing nothing affect you?
- How will doing nothing affect others?
4. What aspects of the problem can you control?
- What aspects of the problem can you control?
- What positives would come from taking control?
- How would you feel if you took control?
- How would you feel if you resolved the problem and weren’t struggling anymore?
5. What aspects of the problem can’t you control?
- What aspects of the problem can’t you control?
- How do you feel about what you can’t control?
- How will you adapt your thoughts and feelings to what you can’t control?
- What aspects of the problem can be resolved?
- Who else has successfully resolved the problem?
- How did they go about resolving the problem?
- How will you go about resolving the problem?
- Who could assist you in resolving the problem?
- What other solutions do you need to consider?
6. Identify Your Success Criteria
- What is your criteria for success?
- How will you know when the problem has been resolved?
- How will you measure the outcome?
7. Identify Possible Solutions
- What aspects of the problem can be resolved?
- Who else has successfully resolved a similar problem?
- How did they go about resolving their problem?
- Who can assist you in resolving your problem?
- What other solutions should be considered?
8. Identify the Best Solution
Having worked through all the questions above, you will gain clarity about what is causing you to struggle, what the possible solutions are and decide on the best possible solution for you to follow up with.
- What is the best possible solution?
- What day, date and time will you put your solution into action?
- When do you expect your solution will result in you not struggling anymore?
- What will you differently in the future to ensure you never struggle with the same problem again?
Learn from your mistakes
One of the best ways to stop struggling and overcome adversity, is to take responsibility for your life.
You can either be at cause or at effect. If you are at cause, it means you are responsible for what happens to you. The responsibility for change lies with you. You feel empowered to bring about the requisite changes to overcome adversity and stop struggling.
If you are at effect, it means everything that happens to you, is someone else’s fault. When you blame someone or something for your demise, you will continue to struggle because you feel dis-empowered. Your thoughts may in fact be sabotaging your success.
The 8-step problem solving questions formula gives you a tool to instantly put your struggles into perspective. These questions take out the emotions and allow you to analyze what is causing you to struggle. With clarity comes a greater insight into how you may have contributed to the problem in the first instance and this insight will allow you to use your inner resources in a way that optimizes your chances of success.
On a Final Note
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