Thursday, October 30, 2014


THerohe word struggle has a complex etymology and is linked to notions of contention, strife and dispute as well as the common usage of huge effort. Perjorative in one sense, in another it is ennobling, heroic, even. And it is a given in many circles that struggle is an unavoidable, even desirable prerequisite to success.

Well, I beg to differ... My experience of struggle (mine and others') is that it is a pointless dissipation of energy that leads to disease, a vainglorious ego-trip and a demeaning of the human spirit.

Hmmm, that's pretty strong stuff - I'd better have some substance to back this claim up with.

Ok - so firstly I'd like to say that I am not questioning the benefits of hard work and effort - they are a pre-requisite of survival, let alone success. Hard work and effort are natural - our brains and bodies are setup to work and suffer if they don't. But would you voluntarily apply your energies consistently to work that you don't like and aren't good at? Would you willingly, on a regular basis, spend time with people you don't relate to? Would you choose to struggle? Well, of course not, but we do nonetheless - so why?

At this point many of us would say: "Well, we have no choice - our bad luck and circumstances force us to struggle against them. There is no other way and everybody has to, so why should I be different?" This statement is wrong at a number of levels. Firstly our circumstances are neutral - they have no interest in us and no concept of success and failure. Our environment will just respond dispassionately to our actions. Secondly, the people we interact with are, for the most part, far more interested in themselves than they are in you, or me. So if you remove these external factors as the basis of the struggle, what is left? Yup, that's right, just little old you. So if you are experiencing struggle, the bad news is: you're responsible - and the good news is... you're responsible.

Struggle is an emotional response to the fear of loss. Now if that loss takes place, game over - end of struggle. If that loss doesn't happen, then the struggle has no justification. So either way, struggle is superflous. But more than that, because of the waste of energy that ensues through struggle, loss and failure become more likely. With the mind focussed on loss and lack, the value of what you do have is lost - this all adds up to a potent mix of negativity.

And the reason why we continue to struggle despite its absurdity is the secondary gain - that nice warm glow from the knowledge that we will valiantly struggle on, come what may, until our last gasp...

So what's the answer? Simple...not always easy, but oh so simple. Firstly stop struggling - just stop. Secondly, decide whether to walk away or not. It's your choice whether you invest any more energy into the situation or not. Remember that whilst you direct your energies toward it, you are supporting it - you are complicit in the experience. If you decide to continue, then use effort under discipline. Try stuff, assess the results, try again and always be ready to withdraw if needs be.

Finally, if any of this has struck a chord, rest assured that your need for struggle will have weakened as a result... and it's only a matter of time before you re-focus your energies more productively.

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