During a session I had with my new coach last week it became clear to me that I’ve been addicted to struggle for much of my life. While I wasn’t super excited to admit this, it has actually been quite liberating to address my struggle addiction directly and to see how it impacts just about every aspect of my life and work. How about you? Are you addicted to (or at least very familiar with) struggling in your own life?
As I’ve thought about it more over this past week, I realize that I have some real resistance to allowing things to come easy, and that my attachment to struggling runs deep within me (as it does for so many people I know and work with). Here are some of the main “reasons” I’ve used and beliefs I’ve held for many years to justify my own struggling:
If I don’t have to struggle for something, it doesn’t really mean all that much.
If things come easy to me, other people will get jealous, won’t like me, and/or won’t respect me.
It’s not fair for things to be easy for me (i.e., I have to struggle) — especially with so many people having such a hard time these days.
I actually get off on struggling and suffering — I’m quite familiar with it, and I’ve used it as motivation to change and “succeed” for much of my life.
My ability to work hard, overcome adversity, and rise above challenges are all things my ego uses to feel superior to others.
If I don’t struggle for something, when it happens I won’t feel like I deserve it.
Struggling allows me to avoid taking responsibility for certain aspects of my life and keeps me “focused,” so I get to avoid uncomfortable feelings, situations, and circumstances I don’t really want to deal with.
Can you relate to any of these? Maybe you have others as well.
Getting in touch with some of these reasons and beliefs has been both painful and eyeopening at the same time. As I think, talk, and write about them, I realize how ridiculous some of them are and how much of my life’s energy I’ve been giving away to them in the process.
It’s almost like I’m walking around worried that someone’s going to say to me, “Mike, you have it so easy,” and I’m preparing my defensive responses: “Oh yeah, well let me tell you how hard I work, how challenging things have been for me, and how much stuff I’ve had to overcome along the way.” What’s up with this? It’s like I’m preparing for a fight that doesn’t even exist. Do you ever do that?
While working hard, overcoming challenges and adversity, and being passionately committed to important and complex things in our lives aren’t inherently bad, resisting ease and being attached to struggle causes me and so many of us a great deal of stress, worry, and pain.
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