How to Use Your Struggles for Good

Do you know what your weakness is?

Not in an I-can’t-resist-an-ice-cream-on-a-hot-summer’s-day kind of way. More like this: what about yourself do you wish were different—but no matter what you do, you can’t seem to rid yourself of this thing completely?

I wrote previously about my struggle with anxiety. Then, a few days ago I read an article about the science of happiness that stated that about 50% of anyone’s happiness is genetically determined. This just solidified for me my hunch that how I react to the world around me isn’t all up to me making a decision to feel a certain way. Genes can suck, sometimes.

Maybe you have physical or mental health concerns—which either came about from past experiences or just dropped by your life one day, no reason—that require consistent management. Or, of course, you could find it constantly difficult to thrive in your endeavours because some people or situations do not support your introversion—icky.

Overcoming these things can definitely feel like an uphill battle, but let’s look at the positive. Here are 3 ways that you can use your struggles to help yourself and others.

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This photo “A long way” is (c) Andrés Nieto Porras 2014 and made available under an Attribution-ShareAlike license.

#1: Take pride in any improvements you can make

A struggle is an opportunity to put in some hard work, and hard work creates satisfaction—if not in the present moment then in hindsight.

You have to start somewhere, and any step forward is just fine. Like to improve my mental health, I’ve made lifestyle changes: getting better sleep and exercising more frequently. I’m not exactly where I want to be, but I can see that things have improved and that counts for something.

Sometimes that first step can be to alter your perspective–like if others give you a hard time for being an introvert, you can stop to consider what beliefs or myths or fears might lie behind their actions.

#2: Create powerful art

Creativity often evolves out of adversity. Your struggle can be channelled into something beautiful, whether through writing, music, creating visual art, or anything of the like. You only need to consider the most memorable pieces of music, literature, and movies to see that the difficult parts of life are often a focus of great artwork. And many introverts are great artists, you know.

I think the “art” of a simple conversation between you and someone who can relate to your struggles fits with this, too–it’s the connection that counts.

#3: Humble yourself

To compare yourself to others—especially when you’re a young adult gaining your independence—is easy to do. I do it all of the time. And the most instantly satisfying way to do this comparison is to consider the areas you excel in. Maybe some of your friends are living at home while trying to become financially stable, for instance, while you have more independence in this area already. Or perhaps you have great relationships with friends and a special someone, and you’re proud that you’re better off than others.

You should treasure that positive self-image—but having an awareness of your struggles is pretty important, too. It’s what allows you to have empathy  and overall it can make you easier to be around for those people you love who don’t have it all together in the ways that you do. Even if you can’t relate to others’ exact struggles, you can help by showing them that you’re human, too.

Every cheesy pop song says it, but it’s true: be real, be honest, be you, because you’re a shining star and #yolo.

What about you? How do you make good out of your struggles?

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