The Struggle is Real?

They say that “The Struggle is Real.”

Urban Dictionary defines the statement as “The hardness and difficulties of everyday life being unbearable and apparent.”

It is usually used to describe fairly simple problems that the average “first world” human being goes through. Like having a tire get a flat, only getting a half nights sleep or the countless times where expectations are not met. Which are fairly simple problems compared to the number of people that are suffering greatly all over the world.

Hearing the statement lately I came to think of the statement at another angle. How much time do we spend struggling with problems that don’t really exist?

Homeless struggleOf Course, the Struggle is Real.

Yes, there is struggle in the world, there is pain and there is suffering. I would imagine that is something we can all agree on.

Honestly, I cannot imagine the horror that many “first world” citizens go through, as well as a much higher percentage that is found in the “third world.”

I live in Fargo, North Dakota. Compared to probably over 90% of the world’s population I exist in the spoiled zone. No, I don’t have loads of money or a flashy car. But I have a growing family in a nice house, running water, and a decent job. Considering that roughly 60% of the world doesn’t even have running water, I would say that I am in pretty damn good shape.

Though of course I do struggle, have pain, and yes the occasional suffering. It may not be as much as others struggle. Though even though I may not struggle as much as others, does not make mine less important. The obstacles that enter my path, whether big or small, must be negotiated none the less. I say the same goes for every one of you if there is struggle, it needs to be dealt with in some manner or another.

Real Struggles with Fantasized Problems?

There are real problems and of course many issues to find ourselves struggling with. But how much of the struggle is stemming from problems that aren’t really problems at all?

Let me ask you a few questions. Have you ever worked yourself up, worrying over a problem you were sure was going to harm you or others? Planning and plotting to respond, so sure that a messy situation that required swift action was going to take place? One more question. Have you ever had the time come when this problem was going to erupt and you realize nothing is happening? The problem that was expected, didn’t show up after all.

How much of our struggles do we bring onto ourselves by fantasizing problems that never show up? Or over-dramatizing something that could be a little struggle into a big one? Of course, I cannot answer this question for you. It is hard enough to answer this question for myself.

The process to Lessen the Amount that We Struggle.

Life, of course, brings about great amounts of pain. For example, we can’t control that loved ones pass away. We also can’t control all sorts of other curveballs the world throws at us. Many problems are ones that cannot be ignored, and if we do they will haunt our consciousness until we deal with them. I repeat. The real problems that we don’t deal with will haunt us until we deal with them. And inevitably will only bring more struggle than would have taken place had we dealt with them in the first place.

With all of the real problems life inevitably brings do you really want to waste all sorts of time and energy on those that aren’t even real? I know I don’t.

The trick to limiting the amount of fantasized problems, and taking care of the real is not a simple one.  It takes hard work and vigilance to keep ourselves in reality in this way. Though the years I have spent in recovery with this brain that is prone to worry and fantasy have learned a great deal. Here are some essential tips that I have come to live by.

1. Staying Emotionally Balanced.

Staying on our emotional A-game is so important to keep our problems and our struggles in reality. Past emotions have a way of creeping into the present. Leading us to believe that history is going to repeat itself. Thus projecting a fantasy of our own creation onto our future selves.

To keep problems and struggles in reality our emotions need to be in reality. Checking in to settle down our emotions in times of struggle can save a lot of suffering. For me, I generally do this through meditation, therapeutic writing, or chatting with healthy people I trust.

Struggle Friend2. Being Connected to Healthy People.

Being connected to these people that will not allow me to complain but will respect my emotions has been so important. Without the support of all the people around me from friends, family and colleagues I would spend an absurd amount of time with unnecessary struggles. The Philosopher Aristotle said that we “are by nature social animals.” I couldn’t agree more, we are not meant to do this life thing on our own.

When running our troubles by our trusted people we may be surprised or even pissed off when told we are wasting our time and energy. They can point out the real problem that we are not seeing, or emotion that is clouding our judgment. They could point out that we are obsessing about a situation that doesn’t exist. Hell, sometimes they even let us know that we aren’t crazy and they actually agree! Their insights are invaluable.

3. Deal with Real Problems as Soon as Possible.

As much as we might like them to go away, there is no amount of denying the real problems in our lives that will make them fantasies. If we feel we need to take care of a problem and the stakes don’t feel risky, then I am generally safe to go ahead and do it. But if the stakes seem a little risky and we are confused in any way about what we should be taking care of. Then I take some time out to go back to Steps 1 and 2.

As soon as I find out to the best of my and my trusted people’s abilities that my problem needs dealing with, I do it. Taking prompt actions with our real problems keep our struggles from growing unnecessarily. I also find that I find myself creating problems out of thin air, while I am procrastinating something else that actually needs my care

4. Let Fantasized Problems Fade Away

The more strongly convinced we are that our fantasized problems are real, the more difficult it is to let them go. But to quit wasting our time with them and get busy living in the real, we need to let them go. Or else we will just spend our time struggling with these problems in a fruitless attempt to make them a reality.

There is a grieving process that goes along with letting our fantasized problems fade away. Letting our belief in a fake problem go can actually be painful. We may think that we are putting ourselves in a dangerous situation. Dealing with the emotions that come out of this process has to happen to let them go. That emotion that may stem from who knows when can now get some much-needed attention. And we can move forward with a little less struggle in our lives and more energy on creative ways to bring success into our lives.

 

Worrying: What is it Good for?

Right off the bat, I have a question for you. How often do you find yourself worrying? I don’t care if it is worrying about your children, family, lover, finances, or the many other items in your life and mind.

Now just one more question. Is the worry worth it?

These are two questions that I hope linger in your minds as we dive into the topic of worry. Now let’s look closer to find the possible good, bad, and purpose of worrying. As well as some ways to help smooth out this stressful process.

Things we Worry about.

The reasons that we worry seem to be endless. Though there seems to be a common theme among this endless list of worrisome subjects. The theme is that we care about them, or we believe they are going to harm what we care for. If we didn’t care about losing something if we didn’t feel something we cared about was threatened, what reason would we have to worry about it?

To care about something is to be emotionally invested. It is a very human thing to care. It is also quite human to worry about losing something that we care for. The world is an unpredictable place, full of unknowns that could potentially be dangerous. Our minds project a fantasy into that world of unknowns to up the survival chances of the things that have our care. Sometimes we predict well and ward off potential threats, and other times there is nothing we can do about it.

But let’s back up a bit here. What is worry anyway? By clicking to read this article I am guessing that you are someone who has at some point worried. Like me, you know exactly what it feels like. You know the mind begins coming up with all sorts of stories to predict the future. I’m quite sure you also have felt the relief that comes from when the thing that’s worried about turns out to be completely fine. And you have probably had your worry be true.

To understand worry a little deeper, we need to talk briefly about its relationship to fear.

Worry and Fear.

At the heart of worry, I see fear. I see a natural process that is preparing us for change. This energizes our creative process, accelerating our minds to problem solve and get our bodies to take action. In this process, our minds and bodies are fighting change as well as preparing for the new, brewing up an incredible amount of creative energy. If the fear response is allowed to go on for too long it has negative consequences for the health of our bodies and our relationships.

You have probably heard of the bodies fight, flight or freeze response. This is a physical response in the body that is brought up by fear of potential threat. The brain begins cutting off the flow of energy to bodily processes that seem unnecessary for protecting itself from attack. That energy flows to the places in the body that will better protect us from said threat.

This response is a tricky bugger to deal with. Because the thing we are fearing doesn’t even need to be real for it to kick up this process. Our brains and bodies can direct us to put out fires that don’t even exist. We can perceive threats that are not even there. And if we have a history of trauma, hidden internal damage can easily be mistaken as external threats.

The fear response is and has been extremely important for our species ability to move forward through time. And still important in relatively safe times today. Though for individuals that have made a habit out of worry, the response is left to lay waste to eat away at our bodies from the inside out. For not very good reasons at all.

When Worry Gets Dysfunctional.

It is difficult to look into the lives of others and say worry is dysfunctional for them. Maybe we can only figure out what type of worry is dysfunctional for ourselves.

Today I realize worry is getting out of hand when I am feeling unproductive stress and not doing much to solve the problem that my life faces. When my mind has been going in circles and the stress builds, I know I need to slow down and reevaluate my thinking. I need to find out if I am actively and productively problem solving or just driving myself crazy.

Finding Relief from Worry.

It is highly important to learn how to shut down worry. This is whether the fear and possible paranoia are about a real or imagined scenario. Even though each of these can feel equally real.

If we continue to feed the fear, threats that are not there are more likely to be dreamed up. And the longer we feed the fear the more easily it is to convince ourselves that we should be worrying. It is like a car that is stuck in the mud, only digging itself in deeper when attempting to free itself.

So let’s work on finding our way out of the fear of worrying to get our creative energies directed into the right places.

1. Slow down to Feel the Fear and Other Emotions Present.

The old saying is that “cooler minds prevail.” To me, this means that we can find better courses of action when we slow down our worrying fear-based minds, emotions, and actions. When we cut off the worrying we can find better solutions than we could while being directed by our fear. Studies have shown that when too much fear is present, our IQ’s actually shrink.

Where there is worry there is fear and there is also pain. Maybe it is pain from a loss that is anticipated but not real. Or maybe it’s the pain in ourselves that is connected to the loss in the past. Whether the pain comes from anticipating our loss, re-feeling a past loss or experiencing loss in the present, it’s best to feel what is there.

Once the emotion is felt, the energy that is fueling the worry just might get a chance to dissipate. Feeling these emotions isn’t always easy, there may be fear, sadness, anger, and much else to feel. This obviously isn’t going to magically fix a real fear induced situation, but it will put us in a better place to act from a more sane self. We may find that the fear we are sensing has nothing to do with the world outside ourselves.

Worry Perception2. Remind Ourselves of Times that Worry and Our Perceptions have been Wrong.

Have you ever worked yourself up into a mess of worry and had the relief that comes from having it not be true? I sure have. This reminds me of when I was younger and would get spooked by a shape in a dark room. Only to turn on the light and have the monster be a couple jackets hanging on the wall. Well, I find this can still happen pretty easily in life, whether the fear is finances, politics or what have you. Not to say that all fears about these things are unfounded, but they don’t have to seem like such immediate dangers that have no hope.

These days I get a sense of peace from telling my worrying mind that all this fear right now may be full of crap. Reality is not always as it seems. I am truly grateful to understand that my world is much safer than my mind can lead me to believe.

3. Take Productive Action.

Worry can be a sign that some action needs to be taken. Maybe it is a clear action like getting out of the way of that moving vehicle or paying the electric bill. Though maybe the needed action is not so clear. The needed action might actually be to stop taking actions because we are creating unnecessary problems.

We need to find something to do with the energy that drives worry. If all I do is worry, I am not accomplishing a damn thing. But if I use my worry as a sign that helps me make an important change, then we are getting somewhere.

4. Let Go of the Need to Control.

Learning how to let go and trust is a beautiful thing. Now I am not telling anyone to put their head in the sand, not protecting themselves and loved ones. But when we find out that we cannot do anything about the situation, we can let it go. When we find out that our worry was unfounded, we can let it go. And after we have taken the proper actions to make it through the fearful situation, we can now let that go too.

Who in their right minds desires to stress themselves out with worry when they don’t have to. There is freedom in letting go of control.

5. Let our Trusted People Help with this Entire Process.

Talking to our trusted friends when worrying can have many benefits. They may be able to help us calm down if we can’t do that by ourselves. As well as help us come to terms with what is real in what we are fearing, and what we have some control over. They can help guide us into the next right action to take. If we are not able to come to terms with what to do on our own, we need healthy and trustworthy people to help us.

Some people run absolutely everything in their lives through the minds of those around them. This doesn’t happen to be my approach. For me, I am much more comfortable doing what I can do and then enlisting the support of others when my efforts prove to not be enough. Whichever level of support you require or desire, the truth remains that healthy relationships are essential

Worry ReliefConclusion.

The question I care to answer here is in the title of this article. What is worrying good for?

I cannot say that worry is good for absolutely nothing. Because there is something important happening for us when worry arises. It is telling us that something is not right with our world with a lot of energy to solve the issue.

Worry may be telling us there something wrong with our outside world or our inside world. Which one it is isn’t always so clear but by implementing the list above, you may find your way to the answer. That worry is present is an important sign to fix a problem, correct. But finding a way out of the worry is of even greater importance.

To be worrying is to be unproductively stressing out. It is a thief of creative energies when left to its own devices. But worry does not have control over us if we can catch ourselves in it. And it is possible to find gratitude and healthy solutions even in times where it feels uncontrollably powerful. Relieving ourselves of the habit of worry is a very real thing.

Well, that is all we have for today and thank you so much for stopping into My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth.
We truly believe that if you take today’s lessons to heart and apply them, that you will greatly benefit.

To see our Terms and Conditions click here

Relaxation is Our Own Responsibility.

Life can be go go go far too often. The mind moving from one thing to the next, non-stop and habitually. My brain, in particular, cannot handle this type of activity for long. It has been immensely important for me to set aside time for Relaxation.

Balance Between Stress and Relaxation?

It is important to have a certain amount of stress in our lives to pump energy into our daily affairs. Though it is easy to go from a healthy amount to a territory of stress that will inhibit being productive.

According to the Yerkes-Dodson Law, “performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When levels of arousal become too high, performance decreases.” The law asserts that stress is only helpful when it is in a range that is not too low and not too high. Not too little stress because then there will not be enough energy to keep us engaged with an activity. And not too high of stress because then our nerves may get in the way of us being productive and successful.

There is a balancing act to be played with when it comes to how much we should relax and how much we should be amped up. This isn’t always easy with the world running at the speed it goes at today.

Balance Relaxation

The World wants a lot of Us.

To be honest, the world, in general, wants a lot out of each and every one of us. I am not saying that it seeks to keep us amped up, but does a damn good job of doing this. When it comes to finding the balance between stress and relaxation, the balance must come from our own efforts. The world wants our time and energy and we must decide how much of them it gets.

Relaxation is on me, people generally won’t let me know I need to relax until I am showing significant signs of fatigue. If I am getting too amped up with anger someone will say “maybe it is time to chill out man”! And when the bags under my eyes are hanging way low someone will ask, ” Hey, you look wrecked.”

This isn’t me complaining about how the world divvies out expectations, only saying I’m responsible to ensure I’m relaxing enough.

Relaxation Isn’t Always Easy.

Relaxing my mind after being busy can be like a full speed freight train putting on the breaks and stopping. It can take a mile or more for the train to come to a halt. The same goes for my mind when I am attempting relaxation. When too amped up and trying to relax, my mind has to go through a laundry list of items to process. The laundry list isn’t good or bad, my brain just needs to process it.

My biggest problem with relaxation is an attachment to electronic devices. In my car the radio is on, I get home and Netflix gets turned on, and the cellphone is a formidable adversary to my mind taking a nice break. The problem is that when I have time designated for relaxation, the time is filled with a further flood of information from the devices.

While my brain is supposed to be processing existing info and emotions, the new info being brought in is getting in the way of the process, creating, even more, to be processed!

I don’t know how many relaxation sessions have turned into scrolling through Facebook. A half hour into the scroll session I find myself angry and overwhelmed and don’t really know why! Well, I know why I just flooded my brain and it was counterproductive to my relaxation!

This isn’t even an argument against Facebook or other social media, I find them very useful for different purposes. But once again RELAXATION IS ON ME. The World is not set up to have me turn away from it. It wants attention!

Relaxation Requires Commitment.

Without a doubt, our own relaxation is on ourselves. Once and awhile an angel of a person will come along and say “you need to rest my child”. But those encounters are few and far between, so I cannot wait around for them!

Relaxation requires commitment, and commitment to a plan nonetheless. Here are some tips to help plan out a successful relaxation session.

1. Set Aside Time for Relaxation.

Without Setting aside the time for relaxation we are doomed from the start. Write the time into the schedule, if possible make it a routine time every week. This can save stress and complaining of not knowing when we will be able to relax. It is okay to set aside our time for ourselves.

2. Learn how to say NO!

The World around us has limitless responsibilities to offer us. If we don’t say No to the offers that would take our relaxation time away, we will give the time away. This means more stress and lost opportunity to relax! That is unless the opportunity gives more relaxation than what I was already going to be doing. It is okay to say NO!

3. Use the Devices Wisely.

A lot of the time, my devices get in the way of my relaxation and they need to disappear for me to relax. Though there are also ways in which my devices may enhance the amount of relaxation I feel. Sometimes I can find a good song that comforts me or a good movie that invokes important emotion. Hell, I even used an app called Insight Timer to help me meditate more regularly. So if devices can be used to enhance the relaxation process or help us feel an emotion, I say that is a good use of them.

4. People Find Relaxation in Different Sources.

What is relaxing for me may not be relaxing for you. Whether you find relaxation in fishing, meditating, napping, getting a manicure, taking a long drive or whatever else, then awesome. Find these sources of relaxation and put them in the routine as fast as possible, to find balance in a hectic world.

Relaxation Is on Ourselves.

Relaxation Responsibility

If there is anything I wanted to It is that RELAXATION IS ON OURSELVES. I cannot relax for you and you cannot relax for me. Our families, our spouses, our friends may help in the process sometimes but they cannot force us to relax!

You are worth setting aside some time to chill out and process what is needed to be processed and get in touch with the present. It is rewarding and crucial that you and I find time to do so.

Be busy when you need to be. Find relaxation when needed as well. When we find the balance between the two in this crazy busy world, life is a beautiful thing.

Well, that is all we have for today and thank you so much for stopping into My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth.
We truly believe that if you take today’s lessons to heart and apply them, that you will greatly benefit.

To see our Terms and Conditions click here