Addicted To The Struggle: 3 Ways To Live With Less Of A Burden

by Alexandra Mathieu

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." To this "Great Gatsby" quote, I say no -- or at least, no, we don't have to.

This dates back to more than just "recently," but I feel as though I am struggling. I've always done my best at everything, taking on more than I can handle, giving more than I get, trying for more than I am rewarded.

Recently, however, I've realized that by overworking, I've begun underperforming; by overexercising, I find myself overeating or exhausted; by being so available to others, I barely was there for myself; by trying so hard to figure myself out, I've never been so lost.

This was a somewhat progressive realization, with a very, very sharp tipping point. My instinct was either to swing by a manicurist in the same style as Elle in "Legally Blonde," or go to a yoga meditation class.

I chose wisely.

As I laid down my mat and grabbed two blocks, sighing about how stressed I was and semi-dreading the struggle this class was about to be, the yoga instructor introduced today's mantra: "Stop struggling."

In the same way you have a greater affinity to your name because it matters to you, when I heard the word, "struggle," my ears perked up.

She elaborated, "Let go of your addiction to struggle."

A few minutes later, I was completely in the zone so my mind went blank, but as I wiggled my toes and fingers at the end of class to become alert again, I was flooded with amazing thoughts about how I could apply this beautiful mantra into my everyday life.

Selective Struggling: Is this struggle really big enough?

Struggles cause stress, and sometimes, I struggle with the smallest things.

Though, on a conscious level, I realize they are not that significant. But even so, I allow my body to still get stressed out, literally releasing the same set of hormones it would in another, more important situation.

We should get better at sorting our struggles into what matters and what can wait. Practice more "selective struggling."

Separate the sentiment and situation; make them different.

Obviously, when she said "let go" of the struggle, she didn't mean pick up your bags and say goodbye to all the things that cause you any sort of struggle, but rather, let go of the feeling of struggle.

A struggle is both at once a situation and the way we've processed the same situation. Whereas the former is actionable, the latter is really its internalization.

The "feeling" can be modified with what I call conscious management: identifying what is situational and what is emotional, in order to separate the two.

This, in turn, actually makes resolving situations much easier, which explains why successful people often have great stress management skills.

Let go of the sensation of struggle.

Sift and Switch: Eliminate the removable struggles.

Some of the worst struggles can't be changed, and that's what makes them horrible. But a lot struggles are sort of... optional.

No need to get into details because these things are so personal, but whether a relationship, work, lifestyle, etc., there actually are things you can do about them. But the stagnant or escalating state of those struggles? You have only yourself to blame.

Hold yourself accountable to take action where you can, and don't forget to give meditation a try, or at the very least, yoga.

Who knows? You might be blessed with words of wisdom beyond your years.