“We can discover meaning in life in three different ways: 1. by doing a deed; 2. by experiencing a value; and 3. by suffering.” – Viktor Frankl
We live in a world where “easy” is often mistaken for “better.” Whether it’s a quick fix for a complex problem or a shortcut to success, we’re all guilty of seeking the path of least resistance at some point in our lives. Yet, it’s the challenges, struggles, and adversities that shape our character and forge our future.
The Importance of Struggling Well
Struggling well is not about romanticizing hardship or glorifying struggle. It’s about approaching difficulties as opportunities to grow, learn, and re-evaluate our paths. When you struggle well, you don’t just go through hardships; you grow through them. The concept goes beyond the age-old adage of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” to suggest that struggling well can bring out qualities in us that we didn’t even know existed.
The Components of Struggling Well
- Resilience. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from adversity. When we are resilient, we don’t allow a setback to be the end-all. Instead, we bounce back, often with renewed vigor and insights. Building resilience starts with developing a mental fortitude that reframes challenges as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks.
- Adaptability. Being adaptable is crucial for struggling well because it equips us to change course when our current methods aren’t working. Adaptability is about being flexible and open-minded, prepared to pivot when circumstances demand it.
- Self-Compassion. Being kind to yourself is an important part of struggling well. It’s easy to be your own harshest critic, especially when you’re going through challenging times. Self-compassion allows you to give yourself the emotional space to fail, learn, and try again.
- Accountability. While it’s essential to practice self-compassion, holding yourself accountable is equally important. Accountability isn’t about self-blame; it’s about taking responsibility for your actions and their outcomes, and then taking the necessary steps to improve.
The Benefits of Struggling Well
Why go through the trouble of embracing challenges and struggling well? Because the payoffs are monumental. Not only do you grow more competent, but you also gain a deeper understanding of yourself, build resilience, and develop empathy for others going through their own struggles. In a world that prioritizes ease and comfort, struggling well is the road less traveled — but it’s the road that leads to a fulfilling life.
- Growth and Evolution. Challenges push us out of our comfort zones. By facing them head-on, we are forced to adapt, learn, and grow. This personal and professional growth is invaluable for long-term success.
- Resilience Building. Regularly facing and overcoming challenges builds resilience. This emotional strength ensures that when future challenges arise, we are better equipped to handle them.
- Increased Empathy and Understanding. Struggles offer a unique perspective. They allow us to understand, empathize, and connect with others who might be going through similar challenges.
How to Struggle Well
- Adopt a Growth Mindset. This mindset, introduced by Dr. Carol Dweck, emphasizes the idea that abilities and intelligence can be developed. When faced with adversity, instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”
- Seek Feedback. Instead of shying away from criticism, actively seek it out. Feedback, both positive and negative, is essential for personal and professional development.
- Practice Self-compassion. Understand that everyone, including you, makes mistakes. Instead of being hard on yourself, show the same kindness and understanding that you would to a close friend.
- Build a Supportive Network. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and offer constructive advice. This network can be your sounding board, offering insights and perspectives you might not have considered.
- Celebrate Small Wins. Every challenge will have its ups and downs. Celebrate the small victories along the way. They’re proof of your progress and perseverance.
Life’s challenges are inevitable. However, our response to these challenges determines our trajectory. By embracing the art of struggling well, we not only enhance our personal and professional growth but also enrich our lives with deeper understanding, resilience, and empathy.