Recently someone wrote to me here at Believe and Create and told me she was tired: Tired of struggling. Tired of feeling miserable. Tired of conflict. Tired of not getting anywhere she wanted to go. Tired of feeling that her life was a mess.
She was also tired of reading self-help and spiritual growth articles and books only to have the ideas they purport let her down again and again. She’d worked hard to change, but life was not getting any better. She felt dejected and demoralized and she didn’t know what to do.
Have you ever felt that way: sick and tired and weighed down by troubles and challenges? Can you relate to being confused about how to make the lasting changes you want to make (e.g., surviving a job that’s making you miserable; losing weight once and for all; ending conflicts with family and coworkers; escaping financial woes; finding love in your life, etc.)?
When you’re tired of struggling …
I get it. You’re tired of the struggle. You’re at a place that many people get to, and some get stuck in. I’ve been there. I wish there were a single, brilliant answer I could give you that would release you from the recurring pain you find yourself in. You’ve already tried “quick fixes” and you know they don’t work.
I know how frustrating it can be when our personal growth efforts are sincere, and yet our progress appears to be nonexistent. Again, I’ve been there. It stinks.
I don’t have magic answers for you. But, regardless of what’s causing you to feel trapped in struggle and disappointment, I know there are a couple of things you can start doing that will help ease your pain. Below are a few things that help me when I’m at my most miserable. They WON’T cure anything overnight, but when practiced over time, they’ve worked miracles for me.
1. Pursue a daily meditation practice.
Seriously? Yes seriously! Now, this doesn’t have to be an elaborate practice. You don’t have to sit for hours in an uncomfortable position on a pillow or join an Ashram. It’s not a religious practice, it’s a spiritual and self-healing practice, and I’m suggesting it because I KNOW it works.
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing … it doesn’t have to take hours. Just give yourself 20 minutes a day to sit still in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing. If anxious thoughts arise, don’t fight them, but don’t attach to them either. Just allow them to come and go like clouds come and go in the sky.
I find listening to soft instrumental music helps me because when thoughts pop up (and they will … guaranteed they will), I turn my focus to the music. If you don’t have access to instrumental music, then just return your focus to your breathing. It is not possible to focus on two things at the same time … you cannot focus on music (or breathing) AND anxious thoughts.
The power of meditation comes in doing it again and again. You may or may not feel calmer and more at peace after a single session or two (though you might … I often do). The real magic happens over time.
When you start giving yourself time in peace and calm, your body starts to relax, and that sense of serenity enters into other aspects of your life. Commit to 30 days of meditation and see if it doesn’t make a difference in your life. It will if you give it a chance.
If you feel you need help with beginning a meditation practice or prefer to do guided meditations (which are typically focused on specific issues you’re going through), here are a few CDs/Audio downloads I suggest:
Jack Kornfield’s Guided Meditations for Difficult Times (my personal favorite)
2. Get yourself a mantra and recite it thousands of times. (Not kidding.)
Every significant change you want to make in your life begins by changing the vibration of your thinking. If you want to be happier, you need to focus on thoughts that lift you up. If you want to be more confident, you have to speak to yourself as if you are already strong and confident. And, if you want to experience more love in your life, you need to keep loving thoughts in your heart and mind every day.
If you’re struggling right now, then chances are you’re stuck in “stinkin’ thinkin’.” If you want to get beyond the point where you’re struggling every day, then you have to work on shifting your mindset. One way of doing this is by adopting a mantra — a simple, positive and uplifting statement that speaks to what you want to create and experience in your life.
Examples of mantras:
“I release anxious thoughts.”
“My life is getting easier.”
“I am strong and at peace. My life is good.”
“I am happy and content.”
“I am healthy and fit and I enjoy eating healthy food.”
“I am loving and lovable.”
Come up with a mantra that makes you feel good. It must be positive, but it doesn’t have to be something you believe to be true at the moment, only something that you yearn to feel is true at the very depths of your soul. Repeat your mantra daily — hundreds of times daily. Repeat it day after day after day. Say it in your heart. Say it out loud. Write it over and over. Weave it into the fabric of your being.
Repeat your mantra anytime anxious feelings arise. Repeat it when your mind is shifting to self-depreciating language. Repeat it when self-doubt and worry arise. Hang on to it like it’s your lifeline. Let it permeate your being so it can do the transformation work you crave.
There’s a great book called Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, by Kamal Ravikant that features a mantra that can change your life. I recommend this book to EVERYONE (and, no I don’t even earn a commission for doing so). Also, it’s dirt-cheap … under $5, so you have no excuses!
It’s short so you can read it in a couple of hours. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It is the story of how Kamal changed his entire life just by repeating the mantra “I love myself” over and over. I can’t recommend that book more highly for anyone who finds themselves in a state of constant struggle. Just reading it will help you feel better immediately.
When I’m going through rough patches, I take time out to read this book. I’ve probably read it 50 times, I almost know it by heart. I also downloaded it on Audible, so I have an audio version, too. The lessons are simple, but they resonate with me, and maybe they’ll resonate with you, too.
3. Walk in nature for a minimum of 15 minutes every single day.
Thirty minutes is better. Seriously — I probably should have made this #1 on the list because it is so VERY important.
Nature offers curative powers that you won’t find anywhere else. I recommend walking at a moderate pace and practicing mindfulness the entire time. Stay present to the beauty of the sky. Notice the blooms on the flowers. Watch the dance of the swaying branches in the trees. Listen to the birds’ chirp. Stay present to the world around you and soak it in. It’s there for your joy and your healing. It’s the best medicine there is.
4. Accept that life’s not easy, but also realize that you are strong and can handle whatever comes your way.
Spiritual and personal growth gurus sometimes teach that life can be easy. That’s not the life that most of us experience. It takes trial and error to find out what works for us, and some situations are just tougher and rougher than others, and the “fix” that helps in one situation may let you down in the next.
Life is more like a roller coaster: lots of ups and downs, jarring twists, and scary turns. It can be exhilarating and fun, but it can also be bumpy and frightening.
Struggling is inherent in the journey of life, yet anytime it becomes a constant state within the journey, it’s time to make a change.
The most important thing is to be kind and caring with yourself along the way. Your heart is calling for you to be gentler with yourself and the world around you because struggling is breaking you down. You deserve better. We all do.
When you’re feeling miserable and stuck and frustrated, the most important thing you need to do is this: love yourself more. To escape the prison that you feel you’re in, you must give yourself ample doses of kindness, compassion, and love. Instead of fighting, begin building … building the new self-nurturing habits that will keep you lifted up. Be willing to let go of what you can let go of, and follow the Beatles’ advice “let it be” for things beyond your control. Also, make a decision to walk away from that which no longer serves any purpose in your life. This all takes bravery on your part, but you are stronger than you realize.
Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for what you’re going through. There’s no overnight fix, but I hope you find some solace in the suggestions I’ve made here.
Sending you my prayers for love and lightness for you … that you might quickly find a path out of this painful part of your life. – J. Marie Novak, Founder of Believe and Create
QUESTION FOR YOU: What seems to bring you relief when you’re struggling? Please share your advice in the comments below … others will benefit from the lessons you share. Thank you!