The Power of Struggle: How to Turn Hardships into Extraordinary Strength

use struggles to build your mental strength

About 2 years ago, I hit rock bottom. To be honest with you, I kind of expected it. I remember the day when I was standing in my bathroom with the door locked, making sure that no one finds me during my mental breakdown. I kept staring in the mirror, looking at myself with my eyes all teary and black from mascara.

At that time, I had no job, I had no money to my name and my personal relationships equal to drama and some high level of toxicity. My entire life was falling apart and cleaning this emotional mess seemed impossible. I was angry that I let myself down when something hit me. I suddenly realized that in this seemingly destructive situation which made me feel weak at first, I also found a sense of strength. Is it emotionally possible to feel this way?

After 5 minutes of brainstorming this unusual mental state, I came to realize that weakness represented my current situation where I felt desperate and out of control. But the strength came from knowing that nothing lasts forever, that there is always an end to any pain or suffering because life is a balance of ups and downs.  I knew that I either find the way out of this misery or I die, spiritually and emotionally in my own bathroom.

Because of the strength I felt, I changed the way I saw pain.

Do I want to encourage you to live in the pain? Not at all. But I want to share with you my personal awakening which helped to understand feelings and taught me how to take those difficult days of my life and resolve them instead of dwelling on them.

1. Wake-up call

When I hit rock bottom, it gave me a sense of reveal. I just knew I can’t go lower anymore. It was like a hard slap on my face telling me that I need to go through an enormous personal transformation and I am the one with the ability to make it happen. That’s the first lesson and benefit of pain.

How do we know that we are moving in the right direction, that we are living in the right relationship and that we are working at jobs which fulfill us when we don’t have any proof of emotions?

Pain is an indicator, a compass which shows us what direction to go. No one wants to feel pain and therefore, we all look for an exit. This pressure pushes us to grow and stretch. We are challenged to work on changing our lives.

I, personally, believe that we need to develop a certain tolerance and understanding when it comes to pain. If we always run into a so-called comfort zone, we are creating an illusion of pleasure. Life is a combination of happiness and struggle.

2. Strength build on the experience

The second benefit of pain is in its power. Each and every time, when we break through life’s suffering, we get stronger, braver, more courageous and immune to difficulties. There is only one catch we all need to recognize. I failed at it at first, that’s why I want to warn you.

When I got hurt in the past, I identified myself with this role of a toughie. I believed that showing toughness and feeling toughness is the only way to protect myself from getting hurt again. As a result, I became numb which was a false understanding of strength. Suddenly, I started to lack passion and excitement about life, I didn’t enjoy all those good times as I did before. And that was the moment when I started to question myself: “Am I being loyal to feelings which are dragging me down instead of making me this strong individual I always wanted to be?”

Leaning how to empower ourselves through errors and struggles means loving the world and people no matter how hurt we may feel. Disempowering emotions as anger and frustration are a part of a healing process, but they shouldn’t turn into a belief that life is cruel, difficult and dark. I hope that my experience of a “tough girl” will help you in avoiding this emotional dead end.

We should never deny our feelings. We should never feel ashamed because of pain or a broken heart. It’s a sign that our hearts beat, they feel and love. The power of pain doesn’t come from an inability to feel. Showing vulnerability or sharing our stories where we hit the wall represents true courage.

3. One question

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned while trying to better understand what’s really happening in my life was one question. “What’s in it for me?” I was looking for a lesson, a benefit or a knowledge. At first, I wasn’t interested in an answer. I was upset that there is another battle I have to endure. But this question taught me that choosing what to focus on will determine the length and intensity of my pain.

If I believe that I became broke because life is unfair and I will never make any significant amount of money, my life will unfold in proportion to this belief. However, if I believe that I ended up broke so I can be pushed to study finances and learn how to work with money, my life will unfold in proportion to this belief.

What makes us successful in personal and professional life isn’t lack of difficulties but our perspective to what they represent. This simple question saved me from emotional confusion many times because it completely transformed the way I saw life and everything around me.

I began to understand that happiness isn’t a result of some significant moments and annual breakthroughs. It is the ability to live in the moment and accept things as they are, knowing that with right tools and perspective, we can handle practically anything.

4. High level of empathy

Developing a deep sense of empathy was one of the craziest tools I’ve gained out of my own suffering. Why craziest? Because I started to develop a deep and intense understanding of other people’s feelings. It felt like I am able to step inside of their body and feel what they feel, think what they think.

We all look for understanding and acceptance. Trust me when I tell you that there are tons of people who are going through the same or similar struggles like you and I. And they are looking for exactly the same thing. Understanding and hope that everything will be just fine.

There are so many benefits and lessons behind those not so easy days. So the next time when some hardship decides to knock on your door, just open them and ask, “What’s in it for me? And watch how your life and the entire situation changes in an instant.


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