It is most people’s experience that we struggle with something or other at some point of our lives. We look around and accept that that’s how life is, because for many seeing is believing. We also tend to glamourise struggle as being part of the growth, taking on the belief that we can’t achieve anything without working hard.
Have we in fact allowed ‘struggle’ to become normalised as ‘life’?
There is a common phrase to ‘Work smarter, not harder’. This puts many people into the spin of the ‘not being very smart’ wheel, until ‘smart’ people show them how to work smarter.
We have normalised these behaviours and ways to a degree that we are blind to our own rollercoaster of emotions, thinking this is just being human. I used to think if I got something so easily, then was it worth it? And if I didn’t work hard at something, then it was impossible to achieve it. How absurd.
Anyone who knows me well, would know that ‘hard-working’ has been my middle name. I have always been a get up and go person. Whatever I felt was worth achieving, I worked at, and even when I didn’t succeed fully, I gave it a fair go. Being brought up in a culture where the working hard motto was drummed into me, I took on the belief that having some rest felt like an act of ‘not being good’ or even a crime.
Living A Life of Labels
Culturally, there were many labels I used to put on myself, mainly influenced by others’ perception of me! Hard-working, determined, achiever, strong/almost invincible, resilient, smart, polite, attractive, intelligent, caring, resourceful, problem solver … all the while crumbling inside.
Internally I layered on top of these, my own private labels:
- Not good enough (Not being a picture-perfect mother, wife, partner, worker, boss, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, cousin, friend, student);
- Lazy (Giving myself lots more to do than can be fitted in a day and not finishing it all or not stopping to have a break!);
- Ditsy/ignorant (Can’t do paperwork, don’t understand politics, can’t follow written instructions or recipes);
- Arrogant (Being judgemental of others, not being honest and transparent, wanting to look and prove myself better than others or the opposite extreme – feeling small);
- Rebel (I would speak up when there was a need, not being afraid to act out of the norm, although taking things to the extreme at times);
- Perfectionist – Mostly and in so many ways being a self-critic for not being perfect at things! The list goes on …
What was going on behind all these labels and identifications for me?
There are so many impositions placed on us by the society and the culture we are born into. Life often seems to be about fulfilling the expectations of family, friends, teachers and society, as well as our own. I felt inadequate because I was raised to be a good girl, to be respectful and respectable and be proud of the family, keeping the family name high, and not acting ‘out of line’.
If getting over struggle is the main objective of life – which is the way our current model presents itself – then I was chasing my tail, because I was offered one struggle after another, should I choose to live life that way. There were a few sighs of relief after getting over one struggle and boom, another one was there. I dealt with some from the ease of connecting to my own inner/lived wisdom, but others would just knock me sideways.
I struggled because I didn’t understand how to live this life with all the instructions given to me and to live those labels I had identified myself by. If I didn’t know myself, how was I going to know anything about anyone else or the way to be? I tried to fit into some definitions of being a woman, by following a role model in the society, but then the effort list expanded with regard to fitting into one more definition, so struggle presented again! I was lost and exhausted with everything I ‘had to’ do. Everything was a chore and living was simply a burden. There was so much effort in struggle that it was seriously impacting all areas of my life.
Observing From My Body
These realisations all came as I became more aware of staying connected to my body in everyday life. I started de-identifying my ‘self’ from the issues (aka struggle) I was having in life and began observing the outplay of the energy which was fuelling the everyday actions and my emotions. Taking that further, I started observing the correlation between my emotions and my body and how it felt. The more I became aware of the impact of how past experiences felt, the more I was able to discard these things from my body.
Living this way came after visiting an esoteric practitioner who introduced me to simple ways to connect to my body, including the Gentle Breath Mediation®. I started to observe there was another way to live where I could respond to what my body was communicating without allowing the incessant chatter of my mind to dictate. I started observing how my thoughts had an impact on my behaviours and that when I was aware of my body, those behaviours felt unnatural in different areas.
With further attention to the correlation between my mind and body, I realised how my thinking inflicted emotional drama and ill feelings. For example, when I thought of a past experience, I would feel various sensations including discomfort, aches and pains. My struggles gave me headaches, tinnitus, and an upset stomach but my belief system of being a ‘strong woman’ meant I often ignored these symptoms which impacted my health further. I realised it became my responsibility to not live this way anymore because it was not just unloving to myself, but also others concerned in those circumstances.
Small steps from that understanding supported me to make more loving choices for myself and hence for others including family, friends, work colleagues and clients. This included things like being gentle while opening and closing the doors instead of being careless and harsh, being aware of my body’s needs and being responsive to it such as sipping water to keep it hydrated, wrapping up warm when it was cold rather than thinking it’s only a short distance to walk before I am in a warm environment again, and paying attention to my movements in presence so I wouldn’t bump into the door knobs or corners etc.
These things are natural to us when we listen to our body, but I became aware how much I had overridden it and started to realise that even a door banging made me feel jarred in my body. The little bumps into corners gave me regular bruises and little spurts of coldness made me feel unsettled for a long time. Observing the effect of my attention to these little details in self-care had a big impact on my overall mental and physical wellbeing.
These little changes felt like a massive honouring of my body and Soul. I started noticing subtle differences in my inner state when I had certain thoughts, – like when I felt fear, my heart started racing, my breathing became irregular and my body tightened. This observation then gave me an insight into how my body gets impacted by my thought processes. Experimenting with not allowing thoughts to rule my body was fun.
Being present with my full body became (and still is) an ongoing process as I was trained to rule the body with my mind, but my observation taught me that the mental process was unsettling my inner homeostasis. Being congruent with the body felt more being with my true self or what I call, my essence. This felt supportive to have a great flow throughout the day. Watching what was happening in my body as I was walking, touching, hearing, smelling, feeling etc. became a way of life. My headaches reduced, my stomach settled and the intensity of my tinnitus eased, and my mental clutter started dissipating as I became more fluent with my practice.
De-identifying From Struggle
Despite the changes and beginning to notice that there was less drama and effort in my life, I was used to struggle, so I carried on making things difficult for a while and kept making excuses for holding onto it. Why? I realised that there was part of me that identified with struggle, so much so, that letting go of it felt like losing a part of my identity. Now, that was a great revelation.
I, myself, was choosing struggle to be identified by. The depth of this realisation sent me into reaction at first, but being shaken enough, allowed me to go into the depth of what was true. I soon realised that I put more emphasis into getting over the feeling of discomfort, and then seeking relief and remedy for relieving the pain, whilst the underlying cause remained unaddressed. I had been avoiding to see the pathway of this ongoing cycle of struggle and the feeding energy behind it.
And yes, it was seemingly a painful process to call out my own vices; it made me cringe and I sometimes felt disgusted and squirmed with what was hiding behind the exterior of my humanness. It was a real ‘eating humble pie’ moment! Working through some of the internal causes made it easier for me to see through the difficulties to get to the root of it. Although it was uncomfortable at times, the clearing on offer was so much bigger and evolving that it soon became every day’s focus to consciously look for another layer to dissolve, to become more and more free and transparent.
It was not just the so-called struggle, but the emotion behind it that was challenging too. That’s another part which kept me busy in the process of ‘dealing with life’. Sounds philosophical and at times I was attached to the glamour of it, but at the end I realised that this was created as a mental fabrication to keep me ‘busy’ dealing with struggle to stay oblivious to knowing my true essence and its power.
Yes, it required some discipline and old ways kept catching me out. As I became a curious observer of this process, I recognised this mind game and returned to my essence without paying any attention to this so called ‘struggle’. I realised that I am/my essence is the master, nothing else.
With regular observation, I noticed that if I kept giving energy to the struggle by expressing it emotionally, carrying on talking about it, analysing it more than the purpose of resolving the situation, making it the ‘story of my life’ etc, I was sustaining its momentum in my life. Understanding instead that when I connect to my body, I can feel a steadiness and from there, my true essence connects me with its qualities of love and harmony. In this I feel how my true essence has remained untouched by all of the external labels or ways I had taken on to identify myself with.
This process deepens as the more labels that get exposed, the more I am able to be in life without struggle. This has supported me to live life coming back to me and my true essence and my innate wisdom. I now draw from that instead of from any outer sources. This enriches me and although the seeming struggle still appears at times, observing it when it comes in, but not allowing it to shake me or take hold, is much simpler now. And when it presents itself, it is an opportunity to go deeper and discard yet another label or way of identifying myself, that is simply not, and never was, true.
By Kiran Raichura
The Struggle we Create
The Sea of Struggle
7 thoughts on “Getting Over Struggle”
Beautiful Kiran – struggle can really be endless, and though we may proclaim to be sick and tired (very literally sometimes) of what it does to our life, to admit and start to see that we are actually addicted and identified with what it brings is a huge step. Even getting out of the struggle can become a struggle in itself. Love how you have shared your experience here and you show how simplicity is always there waiting for us to realise the struggle is not and never has been real.
Very well expressed Kiran
What a great blog Kiran, thank you. Growing up struggle was embedded and normalised and I still see layers of this at times, even subtle ones. And its not just the presence of beliefs around struggle, but accompanying beliefs that life cannot be joyful or filled with love, nor easy (with a flow) because of the way in which we are connected to the essence you speak of, not so much that the outer world has to be ‘easy’ or not challenging at times. I particularly appreciated how you associated the cloud of struggle we can identify with as robbing us of our true essence and the connection with ourselves. Thank you!
What a great point Melinda, “And its not just the presence of beliefs around struggle, but accompanying beliefs that life cannot be joyful or filled with love, nor easy”, yes imagining life full of love and joy wasn’t even in sight nor an option. Thank you for offering more clarity
Love how transparent you are and yes, I have also found that we love identifying with struggle and many other labels because they seemingly set us apart from others and make us deserving of whatever our particular flavour of rewards might be. And these range from recognition to martyrdom to moving around carelessly and living in a hardened body. In hindsight – what a waste and huge misconception.
Unlocking hidden beliefs and identity made me feel so much lighter and humble. What’s the point of carrying on with something that is not part of my essence and which can keep polluting and hardening my body when there’s freedom on offer by renouncing what does not belong.
This is a beautiful unfolding of inner works which I enjoy a lot. It’s an ongoing process, layer by layer, into the depth of my being. Choosing to be a great friend with my all knowing essence has transformed my life beyond imagination. Forever fan of The Way of The Livingness💫