Why Are We So Afraid of Struggle?

I don't often get to see my clients during times of joy, peace, and tranquility - instead, I often interact with them during times of trauma, struggle, or pain.

Most often, they are seeking help with their current struggle - and, to be sure, it's my job to help them through.

So, it's usually quite surprising when I bring up the "usefulness" of struggle. And, it's usually even more surprising when I tell them we NEED to struggle.

Think about it--we spend so much time, money, and effort trying our best to avoid struggle and pain - maybe we shop, maybe we drink, maybe we take drugs, etc. to divert ourselves from pain. Psychologically, we can become obsessed with perfection to avoid failure or struggle, try to shield our children from any struggle, or avoid doing anything because we are afraid of failing. And, don't forget, there are industries exclusively dedicated to showing us why we should do anything except face our pain.

But, what we don't realize is that, as human beings, we are wired for struggle. I submit we HAVE to struggle to grow. We must struggle to learn. Furthermore, we must let OTHERS struggle - indeed, watching someone we love struggle can sometimes be worse than struggling ourselves. What's more, we will continue to face the same struggle over and over until we learn the lessons we need to learn.

After all, what's the point of struggling if we can't find the purpose behind it?

It's hard to "invite" struggle into your life - who wants to deal with pain? But, at the very least, we should learn to accept it and not fight it. If it's the only way we learn and grow, how can we become full adults without dealing with it?

So, the next time your therapist refuses to rescue you from your struggle - but, instead guides you through processing the struggle- understand it's because he/she has been trained to tolerate others' pain without helping them numb out.

Next time you face a struggle, consider its usefulness and the necessity of its existence. And, resist the urge to avoid it altogether. Sure, it would make for an easier life, but it wouldn't make for a better one.


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