Embrace The Struggle

Probably every generation of parents desires for their kids to “have it better than we did.” They do things to reduce risk and create comfort. Even those kids who didn’t grow up with loving parents and comfortable situations had the benefit of sociological change that made things easier than it was for those who came before them.

For example, we’ve all heard the stories of parents or grandparents who had to walk a mile in the snow to get to school each day. Today that is unheard of. School shuts down the moment there are flurries! Kids don’t know what it’s like to live without air conditioning. They don’t even know what it’s like to live without a cell phone or internet. Life’s much easier, in many ways, than it was for previous generations.

There is a downside to all this comfort. There are a whole lot of people out there who never learned how to deal with simple disappointments. For example, they were taught to share regardless of whether they wanted to or not, so they didn’t learn how to say no. They didn’t learn how to deal with not getting what they want.

Other kids spent their school days in sports and arts activities. All that plus homework was enough to ask of them, so they didn’t do housework or have a part-time job. These kids didn’t learn basic life skills like time management, doing laundry, or making a meal. They don’t know the value of money because they never had to earn any. These kids didn’t learn how to live in a life that isn’t fair. They also didn’t learn how to solve problems.

If I am sounding like I am talking to you, embrace the struggle. When you hit an anxiety producing situation, pause. Ask yourself what this event is trying to teach you. Do you need to learn patience, cooperation, to stand firm, ask for what you want, network, advocate for someone else, ask for help, be humble, love more, be understanding, forgive, …. What?

Hitting conflict is a sign that something is going on that you don’t have the skills to easily solve. Since this is a skills issue, the common sense approach is to identify what skill you need and acquire it. Don’t blame, make excuses, hide, live in shame, or be embarrassed. It happens to everyone. Nobody knows everything.

The good news is that skills can often be applied to many different situations. When you learn to ask for what you want, life becomes easier in a million different ways. You can order a pizza, ask for change, ask a girl out on a date, buy a new car, interview for a job, apply for loan, get some alone time, or do some many things that would have been beyond your reach before. One skill has so many applications. It’s so worth it to find out what you don’t know. That’s the first step to overcoming that obstacle.

But let’s say that you are a pretty capable person. Problems happen to everybody. Some just require a higher degree of skill to resolve. So whether we’re talking about learning life skills or trying to let go of the pain of childhood abuse, betrayal, or being the victim of a crime, embrace the struggle. Struggle always comes with a lesson for you. Life may be teaching  you something for the first time or it could be something that has come back around to give you a deeper understanding. Life cycles in that way after all. We’re all always learning.

When you embrace the struggle and see problems as something that is here to teach you something, it ceases to be a struggle. It can even be a gift. You can see life not as something that is always throwing challenges at you, but something that supports you. Since you have a choice how to see it, wouldn’t you rather live a life that isn’t a fight? Yes? Embrace the struggle. When you embrace the struggle, you never have another problem in your life because they all transform into life lessons.

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