It seems that today I will struggle with one of my demons…as things go wrong one by one I can feel one of my limiting beliefs surfacing…it is as if with each small challenge life is telling me I did not prepare sufficiently enough…that I am too close to the edge…again…that with one small disaster I will be pushed over…I become fearful enough so that I stop remembering how strong I am…how many things I can look forward to…how many things I can do to manifest ease…my own words, my teachings to others come back to haunt me: trust: keep my heart open no matter what, things will be okay no matter how they turn out, do not give in to fear, the past does not equal the future, ask for help from your angels; your divine team, challenges are simply something new to handle today. Sound familiar?
Fly in the ointment…a squeamish term…but as good a way of thinking about Struggle as any when we truly examine it…life is rolling along just fine…we’re good, happy, having a good time and bam! out of nowhere comes Struggle trying to get our attention. Everything was fine…we seemed content the way we were, satisfied and blissful to know nothing more than the status quo…constricted, seemingly safe in our known emotional space…what did Struggle think it was doing anyway?
Before Struggle showed up life was easy, right?
But Struggle gets around…sooner or later everyone seems to get a visit from Struggle; some sooner, some later. Struggle seems to really like some people; settling right in; for others not so much. Struggle is not discriminating; young, old, black, white, red, yellow, any gender, any denomination, any ethnicity; Struggle loves everybody; no one is safe. It’s really only a matter of time before Struggle shows up in some form or fashion.
To be sure, no one knowingly invites Struggle, but it makes its way to our doorstep just the same. Sometimes it arrives suddenly like a surprise rainstorm out of a clear blue sky and other times it slowly weaves its way in like an invasive weed. Either way we never seem prepared.
Struggle’s length of stay is never predetermined or announced…kind of an open ended stay deal. If we want the trip to end we have to kick Struggle out. The only other option is to make Struggle comfortable and that is a much longer stay; an unwanted house guest for most of us.
Whether we welcome Struggle or not, Struggle moves right in…and brings friends: anger, disappointment, frustration, envy, jealousy, lies, judgment and sometimes decides without asking us, to drag along it’s unsavory cousins: anxiety, depression and panic attacks and if that’s not bad enough Struggle takes our stuff too.
When we're not looking Struggle makes off with our confidence, joy, peace of mind, forgiveness, sense of self and compassion. Struggle can be very clever and uses many disguises; sometimes we don’t even know we are bunking in with Struggle; we are so settled in with Struggle we don’t recognize its presence; it is only recognizable by others. Masquerading as arrogance, defense and bravado we barely see the massive fear beneath the surface; Struggle is cunning. At first glance, we think we have a good friend by our side. It isn’t until we try to move out of the neighborhood that we notice Struggle’s true colors. If we are going to remove this squatter from our personal existence we are going to need some heavy spiritual artillery.
When we notice Struggle making an appearance in our lives we do anything but roll out the red carpet. You won’t see us pulling out a chair, offering it a cup of coffee and making up the guest room. We lock the doors, turn out the lights and hide under the covers. No one wants, likes or welcomes Struggle…not until we understand its purpose anyway. Even then, it’s more of an acceptance for the sake of healing and it requires great courage, energy and patience. Truth be told, even if we try our best to hide from Struggle, it finds the key under the mat and lets itself in, drags us out from under the covers and makes itself at home. And either because we don’t like confrontation or we’ve been completely blindsided, we do our best to accommodate the overbearing house guest; adjusting to the intrusion, making room for all the luggage that comes with it; discomfort, confusion, feelings of being overwhelmed, etc. and in the meantime we pray it goes away as quickly as it came.
We do have to acknowledge Struggle for its depth of players in the game; some Struggle puffs its formidable chest out, puts its hands on its hips and blows your house down. Some Struggle just shoves all your things to the floor and watches you pick them all back up. It's true, all Struggle is not equal.
Whether struggle gently raps on the door and steps softly over the threshold or barges in stepping on top of us, we never seem to have time to grab our box of ‘struggle tools’ and batten down the hatches or strategize. And even we did have time to prepare for oncoming Struggle and its entourage what exactly would we do or could we do? That is the million dollar question…how do you prepare for something you don’t know is coming. Accidents wouldn’t exist, illness would be eradicated and we would all be pillars of emotional health if we could predict physical, mental and emotional calamity before it showed up on our doorstep. But Struggle wouldn’t have it that way. If we saw it coming, it would lose its impact on us and what fun would that be?
The funny thing about Struggle is that while we don’t exactly throw our arms around it when it arrives, there is something oddly familiar about it and we try to look away, but we sometimes have to admit we see a tiny bit of ourselves shining back at us from the edges of the Struggle.
When Struggle makes it clear it is not going anywhere and we notice its coat is hanging in our hall closet and shoes are on the mat we have some decisions to make. We either decide to spend our time ignoring our unwanted guest and living clumsily around him or we relax and welcome him and decide to make the best of the visit. Deciding to ignore our house guest can be a long and costly mistake. Not acknowledging someone that has decided to make themselves at home in your personal space means you lose control of life as you know it. When Struggle appears and we ignore its impact on our life we do the same. The more comfortable Struggle gets in our lives, the longer it stays. We need to find out why Struggle is visiting, set the rules for being a good house guest, learn to enjoy our visitor (or at least come to terms with the visit). If all goes well our guest is likely to leave us a memorable gift in exchange for our wonderful hospitality.
The trouble is that anything or anyone that threatens our comfort zone fills us with dread, uncertainty, and mind chaos and puts us on automatic pilot for a while until we get our bearings. Most times, all we can think to do is to eliminate the threat by avoidance or pushing it away altogether. In the case of an unplanned roommate (Struggle), one that plans to stay indefinitely, our minds may rush into overdrive and we begin to make excuses, reasons and lies about why Struggle cannot stay with us. We do not even entertain the possibility that Struggle might be just what we need at the time. Struggle doesn’t look good, feel good or complement us so it’s not staying! We weren’t trained for this…pleasure visits, fun, someone else's Struggle, maybe, but welcoming discomfort? We don’t think so.
Truth is, we are inherently equipped with exactly what we need to handle a visit from Struggle…but we keep these tools tucked in the back of our psychological tool shed. We hope we never need them and truly believe only the highly trained can use them. They are simply called emotions and they can even scare the daylights out of Emmy-award winning drama queens. Feelings cause emotions and we were never trained properly to use them. How can that be? Struggle comes a knockin and all we can do is stare blankly and refuse to go to the toolbox. It’s too hard…it hurts. Using emotional tools hurts. Why would we want to go there willingly? What’s to come of that?
Even when Struggle allows a little light through the windows of awareness and we feel the first pangs of excitement, shades of fear still hang in front of the glass. We have to work hard to keep the shades up.
But seriously…what does Struggle want from us in the first place? Why is struggle bothering us? Why can’t we just lead quiet, easy, healthy, trouble free lives? Doesn’t make any sense…or does it? Is there a purpose to this intrusive, disruptive, mischievous interruption to our everyday lives? There is…it’s called growth.
Spiritual Growth; without it we do not evolve mentally, physically, or soulfully. Connecting the mind, body, spirit…it’s all the rage. And it’s how we come into full bloom. And like we said before, all Struggle may not be equal however, our soul's growth is always equal to the Struggle. There are times in our lives where enormous personal/spiritual growth is necessary and the Struggle will be greater. Likewise when we require brief and gentler periods of struggle to grow, we simply stumble a bit and recover quickly. By design, no two Struggles are the same, even when we have more than one Struggle in our lifetime (and we will) each has its own signature and style and may appear at first to be repeating itself but each brings something slightly new to the party just to make it interesting. Those pesky repeat Struggles come by just to remind us we haven’t fixed everything yet…they love to show us our emotional inadequacies…blah, blah, blah. Think about it…we didn’t come into the world to breathe, eat, poop, work, love, surf the net and die. We are a part of a much bigger picture in the universe…the human part and without growth we grow stagnate at every level. Our relationships strain, our purpose is cloudy, our physical body becomes imbalanced, etc.
Nothing we go through in life is random…every step in life prepares us for the next. The worst thing we experience ends up being the best thing that ever happened to us and is the worst thing...until the next worse thing which tops the last thing and we could never imagine anything being worse than what is happening in the new moment and certainly no one else could be experiencing anything worse than we are experiencing. Then we become protective of our Struggles…they are ours and we proudly show them off in the quest of making sense of them.
So yeah...Struggle...inevitable, transformative and uniquely ours. There's only one thing to do. Open the door...let it in...Trust it.