Siobhán Cahalan | What if…we appreciated the Struggle?

“Struggles often arise when there is a mismatch between desired outcomes or goals and the current reality.”

Struggle. How do you define it? Does the word exist for you? Which experience comes to mind? How do you deal with it?

Struggle can refer to the experience of facing difficulties, challenges, or obstacles in our lives. It is a state of adversity or hardship that requires effort, perseverance, and resilience to overcome. Struggles can manifest in various forms, including personal, professional, emotional, or physical challenges.

Struggles often arise when there is a mismatch between desired outcomes or goals and the current reality. It can involve internal conflicts, external pressures, or unforeseen circumstances that create barriers to progress or well-being. Struggles can evoke feelings of frustration, stress, uncertainty, and even pain.

However, struggles can also be transformative and provide opportunities for growth and learning. They can build resilience, character, and resourcefulness, as we confront and navigate through our challenges.Struggles can lead to personal development, increased self-awareness, and the acquisition of new skills and perspectives.

It’s important to note that struggles are subjective and vary from person to person and organization to organization. What may be a significant struggle for one individual might not be the same for another. Ultimately, how we interpret and respond to struggles plays a crucial role in shaping our experiences and outcomes.

When it comes to organizations and teams, struggle can manifest in different ways. The team may be having trouble working together, or processes and procedures aren’t being followed. Maybe the team’s objectives seem unachievable, or they are not seeing results quick enough. 

But, it’s important to remember that struggle isn’t always bad. It can actually help strengthen teams if used to gain fresh insights, to grow resilience and reduce complacency.

What are four ways which may help us view struggle in a new way?

We could appreciate the contrast. When we are in the struggle, it can fortify our appreciation for our non-struggle times.

We could understand where it hurts. How do we get into those situations of struggle? Is there a pattern? How does the feeling of the struggle differ from absence of it?

We could seek the gems. How can we come to know ourselves and others better? What can we learn from the situation?

We could share the pain. What are the coping strategies we use when in struggle? How do we resource ourselves?

Wisdom Tool Number One: Appreciate the Contrast

Without the darkness, we don’t see the light? Without the clutter, we don’t see the space? Without polyester, we don’t appreciate silk? Without being there, we don’t see here? 

“Going through the struggle allows us to see value in our ‘normal-state’ more vividly.”

Struggle can be a dark place. When we get out of it, the outlook is brighter. Going through the struggle allows us to see value in our ‘normal-state’ more vividly. Appreciating the contrast between struggle and the absence of struggle can help us gain a deeper understanding and gratitude for both experiences. By actively acknowledging and appreciating the contrast between struggle and the absence of struggle, we can develop a more holistic and balanced perspective to life’s challenges. It can enhance our resilience, deepen our sense of gratitude, and foster a greater understanding of the multifaceted nature of our human experience.

When things are going smoothly for a team, the members may become complacent. When the team is struggling, everyone is keenly aware of what needs to be done in order for things to get better. This helps keep everyone focused on taking steps towards improvement rather than feeling stuck.

Wisdom Tool Number Two: Understand Where it Hurts

It can be a useful exercise to explore options when in struggle. We have the struggle situation at hand. We identify one or two other options – alternatives to the situation we are in. We bring to our awareness the three options, one-by-one.

“We can feel completely without options.”

As we bring our current situation into our awareness, we observe our physical body. Where does it hurt? Where is the struggle felt. For example, getting into the struggle situation could have been brought about by acquiescing to a combination of our head and heart. Our head obeying out of a sense of duty. Our heart surrendering out of love. When adopting a situation out of a sense of duty and love, it can seem as though we have absolutely no choice. We can feel completely without options. How true is this? What is the source of being in a situation of struggle?

Next, bring an alternative option into your awareness. Observe your physical body. Where is that option felt? How does the feeling differ from the current situation? What does that represent for you? Is it capturing a metaphysical side to you? A situation where your own needs come first?

For a team, rather than treating each difficult situation as a roadblock, they can think of it as an opportunity for learning and growth. The discomfort of potential failure can be a catalyst for better things by helping to take more calculated risks in the future. The more the team challenges themselves and steps out of their comfort zone, the more likely it is that they will come across something truly remarkable.

Wisdom Tool Number Three: Seek the Gems

During the struggle, how about we become an observer for a moment? Within this place of observing, we can seek to become aware of learnings. 

“What gems are being presented to you?”

Unexpected lessons may reveal themselves. What gems are being presented to you? As we briefly detach, we may even be able to see some humor within the situation. If the situation involves a person, how can we utilize it as a way to get to know a little more about them? To see them in a different light? To understand where they are at? To realize how little you know them, and how this situation can cast light on a new piece of their complex character? What about you? What new learnings can you embrace about yourself? A fresh insight. A gem of a new understanding about you. 

Struggle can an opportunity for a team in an organization to develop new ways of doing things and enhance problem solving skills. Team members can think critically and work together to figure out a plan of action if they’re having trouble meeting their goals. This helps build trust between team members as they rely on each other for support and guidance throughout the process.

Wisdom Tool Number Four: Share the Pain

For some, it can seem the only choice is to shut down, bottle up and endure alone through the suffering. This can be based on an assumption that nobody would understand, that nobody would care. 

“Introverts may take more time than extroverts to express.”

Or it can simply be the way we are used to dealing with situations, stemming from our beliefs and inherent character. Introverts may take more time than extroverts to express. While in it, expression of it may be impossible. As soon as we do feel ready to articulate, it can be a healthy approach.

In an odd way, does being in struggle feel addictive? Does it feel like a type of drama? A way of feeling needed? A circumstance to be in control? 

Dealing with struggles can be incredibly difficult and sometimes draining. Teams who go through tough times can emerge stronger than before because they may have little choice but to cope with the difficulty head-on together. Struggle can make a team more resilient. If your team is dealing with a challenge, remember that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and it can lead to a stronger bond between the members.

What about if we looked at struggle in a different light? To recognize it as an opportunity to learn valuable lessons and help us become stronger and better? To realize that it is a natural part of any journey worth taking and that it can actually be a source of unexpected fulfillment?

By choosing to embrace struggle, we can discover hidden depths of resilience and courage that may have lain dormant before. We can also learn to recognize the unique and hard-won gifts of wisdom and experience that come with facing adversity.

The next time we experience struggle, with the right perspective, we can use the challenge to experience personal growth and the satisfaction that comes with overcoming a difficult obstacle. The struggle is real but it may also bring its own reward. 

“Good self-governance leads to good organizational governance.”

To further explore how you can access your innate wisdom, to better understand your personal approach to struggle in your life and business, leading to enhanced self-governance and organizational governance, schedule a coaching conversation with Siobhán. 

Drop a note to to set something up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please reload

Please Wait