There are countless powerful beliefs that shape your world. Some empower your dreams while other beliefs drown them. One of these holds in its grasps our thoughts on what it means to struggle.
We move through each day with effort to make it to the other side not just intact, but optimistically thriving. Sometimes that effort feels fluid culminating in a quiet satisfying celebration of accomplishment. Other times every turn seems to yield another unexpected stinging smack. The bigger question then becomes, “If life is a struggle does that mean is has to be painful?”
Poetry, stories and songs grab our hearts with words sometimes woven around the discomfort experienced during various trials and tribulations. We perhaps will feel compassion when we read them. We may identify with their tales on an intimate level. They stand to remind us of the hope that we are not alone (great song) or might reinforce a deeper sadness within isolating us further. We see the struggle, but allowing it to take us away is when we can lose ourselves.
Struggle doesn’t need to impact you negatively. That sort of thought process sets you up for failure. Predisposing yourself to gloom and doom. There are paths to adjust your standing on pain so that the pain within struggle becomes something else entirely.
PATH 1: The Gentle Embrace of Pain
Buddhist teachings tell us there is pain in the struggle of life. It is a natural ingredient. Fighting against pain has no benefit but instead may attach us further leading to a purgatory of sorts. However, recognizing the struggle with a mind steeped in curiosity allows us to live along side the pain. We breath it in then release it to give it space diluting the ache instead of internalizing it.
Pema Chodron calls it leaning into the pain as you would if you were on a motorcycle going around a corner. Another strong visual comes from the creator of the meditation app headspace.com, Andy Puddicombe refers to sitting with the pain rather literally. By recognizing the pain, focusing in on it and then sinking into it like you would sit on a soft couch. Ahhhhh.
With both of these explanations you can begin to see how pain would no longer be part of the struggle, because you own it as a part of yourself.
PATH 2: A Renewed Perspective on Struggle
When you adjust your standing on pain so that your perspective on struggle becomes one infused with a growth mindset, you begin to recognize the benefits that are wrapped within the discomfort. Ever heard the phrase it hurts so good? Well there is something to that.
Think about those times your body is sore from a lamenting task; such as hovering over a desk all day. You take a quick break to stand then stretch at your desk. The more you struggle to reach further, deepening the stretch, the more you awaken intensity in the muscles–which ignites pain. All for the betterment of your being of course.
Even when an activity doesn’t feel good per se but you decide to look beyond at the intrinsic benefits, it may provide you with an appreciation for the pain. Here is where a larger potential lies. One that allows you to change and evolve in ways that make your life better and maybe a bit thankful for what you have.
PATH 3: Show Gratitude for the Differences
What you may not realize is that without the pain within the struggle you may not as readily recognize the comfort, joy or peace that takes up the rest of the space in your day. Let’s go back to the example of stretching.
As you stretch and release and stretch and release your body becomes not only softer but your ability to reach further increases. You begin to appreciate your progress and are rewarded by how your muscles feel as they give. Stretching is such a simple daily lens to put on your life to generate a direct connection to the beauty within the seamless dance of struggle and pain.
Not surprising why so many people turn to yoga in order to practice this life lesson literally over and over again. Basically you are moving towards mastery in more ways than one.
And so on…
Your world is bursting full of micro moments laid out at your feet to help you grasp macro lessons. Remaining the diligent student, or lifelong learner, brings with it endless gifts of discovery. What fun! What joy! What a life!