Whenever someone achieves extraordinary results and makes it look easy, my experience of them succeeding is inspiring, because I know they truly struggled big time to get where they are. Most of us never give off any sign of weakness, only strength. It's misleading, and also should be a red flag to look much deeper than the surface presentation of everything's grrrreat! It's often hard to see the deliberately hidden from plain view struggle that's actually right in front of you when people put on a good "performance."
I’d been through that silent struggle myself , of looking good and altogether on the outside, while wrestling with my demons on the inside, and losing bad. Worrying I'll look a fool, feel humiliated with my poor choices surfacing, I would put tremendous energy, efforting to keep up the appearances of a rockstar, when I was hurting and screaming for salvation deep inside. Chronic habitual suppressing of emotions and negative self-judgment can lead to mental illness if not tended to. When I was struggling as an entrepreneur, I believed that I had to create the illusion that my life was working or I'd lose all credibility, when behind the scenes it was not. The invisible voices in my head were telling me that I was not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, wealthy enough to continue my quests. I was a crying out for help, but no one could hear me beneath my stoic facade. Perhaps if caught sooner, there may have been a real solution from my nightmare, before things escalated and my struggling grew to an unnecessary level of bitter suffering.
You don’t have to be an entrepreneur or startup founder like myself to experience this painful struggle. Struggle comes to all of us at some point in our lives, and for some returns again and again to teach us something, if we choose to get quiet enough to listen to the wisdom of change. If things go unchecked for too long mental illness can take hold with a bold lie that it’s not ok to struggle. This is the root cause of why so many suffer from mental illness. This lie makes us keep our struggles a secret, thus taking us from a low point in life, to potentially, a difficult to live with mental illness.
You can change this lie by simply deciding once and for all that it's ok to struggle, and open yourself up to the belief that everyone struggles, and this necessary struggle presents itself to actually increase your capacity, to help make you much stronger than you've ever been. This strength just comes with an expensive price tag. Struggle is inevitable for us all. Unfortunately, society encourages us to pretend we're not struggling, and attempt to project a picture-perfect life of overnight success without cultivation and hardship along the way, where you should be able to win all the time.
You can decide right now to change the way you live your life by no longer trying to project that you don’t struggle, instead allow yourself to feel it for a little while, and contribute a transformative impact on our society. Inquire into, and make friends with your struggles, and soon they will appear and be experienced much differently. Look and you will see that we're all struggling at some point or another, which just makes us human. Give yourself permission to struggle and don’t be so hard on yourself. Own that you’re just doing the best you can and when you focus on continuing to take small steps and accept the struggles as par for the course, you actually begin to get more and more comfortable with them.
Sharing your struggle with people in your life will show you, as it showed me, that what you’re going through is actually normal, there's nothing wrong with it, and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It's the shame that will eat you up if you allow it to, so keep a watchful eye and manage your thoughts that you choose to indulge.
It’s not a question of IF, but WHEN you will struggle next. Struggle is such a useful transformative tool that can be leveraged to disrupt thought patterns, breaks habits, and rewires beliefs. This detox of your mind can be either toxic or cleansing, depending on how empowering the perspective you decide to take. Struggle is the time time for not being hard on yourself and quieting that harsh inner-critic, replacing those thoughts with those of encouragement and much needed patience.
When you're struggling, the short-term answer, the key is to take breaks as much as needed with your conquests to self-soothe and calm your nervous system, get a healthy reframe vs giving up and quitting altogether and having to live with regret. You actually need these breaks and space to connect the dots, to make sense of why the struggle is there for you and to discover fresh solutions, which you just can't access if every day you are grinding and wearing yourself down. Just like with high intensity cardio intervals, there's needed recovery to rescue you from what you are enduring taken in between each push of effort that helps it be the most effective method for improvement, so is it necessary to take time out before the next bigger push in your life!
Acknowledge this truth and let struggles be ok in your life, so when you recognize someone pretending to be grrreat, when they're truly not underneath, that you can courageously name it, hold space for them to be allowed the room to be with their struggles and grow as well!