The struggle we create

The Struggle We Create

The struggle we create

Many of us can relate to life being a struggle at one time or another. For some it may occur sporadically, yet for others their whole life may appear to be one big uphill battle.

The pressures of life are forever present and for many are getting more intense as time goes on, causing a great deal of stress and unease in ourselves that then flows into our families and all others we are associated with.

But is this internal struggle, if we may call it that, something coming from outside of ourselves that we have no control over – or, as the name suggests, a struggle that comes from within… a struggle that we have created?

For many of us the struggle is embedded into our way of being, especially if we are raised by parents who have struggled their way through and made a decent life for themselves, and who think that it was because of the struggle they endured that they were rewarded – therefore justifying the hardship they placed upon themselves. This then becomes an ideal that is passed on from generation to generation.

“Bite off more than you can chew and then chew like hell” is a saying I often heard as a child from my father. This saying had a lot more of an impact on me when I was looking to buy my own home and was worried about the mortgage. I’m not afraid of hard work, but to feel trapped and have a constant pressure on oneself to be able to make deadlines didn’t sit well with me.

Perhaps this struggle mentality comes from the Great Depression days when life was tough and we did have to go without a lot of the luxuries we can now take for granted.

But this struggle we face isn’t only focussed on our financial situation. It is a behavioural characteristic we play out.

The struggle is something we pride ourselves on. We can have an enormous job list to complete and when that list is accomplished it gives us reason to celebrate what we have just completed. But during this process do we stay true to ourselves or do we get caught up in the overwhelm of the situation and our only focus becomes getting the job done?

We are like racehorses with blinkers on – the only thing we can see is getting through the struggle we have created. It is quite easy in these times to forget about the impact we are having on our bodies and own state of being, let alone those around us.

But it is not just work that we create a struggle out of. We are masters at making mountains out of molehills. It might be that we have to do the shopping, look after the children, do the washing, cooking – simple everyday activities… we can turn all of this into a struggle and a burden.

But what do we get out of the struggle?

During the struggle it feels constricted, like there is no room to breathe and that all our attention needs to be placed on what must be done. When we finally achieve all that must be accomplished there is

  • relief – “it’s finally over!”
  • recognition – “do you see all that I have done?”
  • pride – “look what I can do!”
  • but most revealingly – emptiness, and a feeling of dis-ease that there is nothing to keep us occupied – and so we create another struggle

At times we identify ourselves so strongly through the struggle that when we are not in it we are lost, and unsure what to do with ourselves. Struggle gives us a sense of purpose, a mission, a sense that there is something that needs to be done.

But who are we without that all-consuming purpose? There is, after all, apparently more to life than just getting the job done, to achieving your goals. Not sure about that one? Ask your kids, if you have them – they are sure to set you straight.

For many of us life has become all about quantity and what we can achieve. But what good is quantity without the quality?

Now to be clear, I am not talking about the quality of what we produce. I am talking about the quality of our own being. Not sure what I am talking about? I am not surprised. As men, we have forgotten how to enjoy the pleasure of our own company. And I don’t mean taking time out for ourselves by going fishing, or having a drink on our own. I mean really sitting down and just being.

Just the thought of doing this makes us feel uncomfortable. It’s no wonder we keep ourselves busy, and struggle is a wonderful way to make sure that we don’t just stay busy, but that we are consumed by all that we have to do.

In this state of tension, we are oblivious to the fact that there is a simplicity to living we have forgotten that is ours by natural right.

There is a form of connection to ourselves that is right at our fingertips. We knew it as kids, and it is not until we reconnect to that sense of being-ness that we realise that struggle is actually a choice – a choice to keep us distracted from the disquieting tension that continuously runs in our bodies and our mind.

The truth is, the pressures of everyday life are always going to be there. Even if we win the lotto, it is not going to take away the tremendous sense of dis-ease and tension that resides in the majority of us. We can change our jobs, find a new partner, find ways to create a better work-life balance – all in the struggle to obtain the picture of how we want life to be.

And sure, all those things might make things temporarily better, but ultimately they are just solutions that are not going to change anything on the inside. Watch and observe carefully those enamoured with celebrity, money, and status… all those things that we think will change our lives. Those people are still plagued by the same internal tension we all feel, even if they do not show it on the outside. Life is never enough, even when it is laid out for you on a platter.

So, can life be any different then?

Is struggle really just a choice?

  • By Tony Steenson, Brick/Blocklayer

    Happily married and with two adult children,Tony is a deeply caring and passionate man who loves the simple things in life such as sharing a meal or helping out friends and family.

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.