Is Life a Constant Struggle? Find the Root Cause and Kill That Sucker

Sometimes life can feel totally screwed up.

No matter how hard we try, we keep running into dead ends. Or banging our head against a wall. Or failing to achieve or do the things we want to do.

We have great plans, amazing ideas — but we just can’t seem to launch them. Maybe we have constant money problems, difficulties with relationships, or emotions that drain our energy and enthusiasm.

We look around and see other people succeeding and  living exciting lives. It all seems like smooth sailing for them.

So we’re left wondering, “What do they know that I don’t? Why is it always such a struggle for me?”

Yes, there are random life events that pound us down — like a death, job lay-off, family tragedy, natural disaster, etc. These events are out of our control and can cause tremendous struggle and heartache for a period of time. We all experience these random events, but they aren’t of our own making. And fortunately, they generally occur infrequently.

Here’s something surprising you may not realize . . .

Most of our daily life struggles are self-created.

We keep operating in the same way, following the same patterns, and expecting different results. (Isn’t that the definition of insanity?) Sometimes we’re vaguely aware we’re doing this, but we aren’t exactly sure how to disengage.

Other times, we have no idea how we might be participating in our own life screw-ups.  We’re certain it’s the fault of some other person, our birth order, our crazy mother, or some vast conspiracy aimed in our direction.  “I’m just unlucky. The world is out to get me. I’m just destined to struggle.”

It’s true, some of us come into the world with more — more opportunities, more money, better parents, more intelligence, an outgoing personality, or better looks. But we do have the capacity to make the best of what we’re born with.  We have the capacity to change, to evolve, to succeed, and to be happy — if we figure out the root cause (or causes) of our self-defeating, limiting behaviors.

If any of this is making you squirm or you feel a glimmer of self-recognition here, go grab pen and paper. Read the following questions, then close your eyes for a minute or so after you read each question to allow some truths to rise to the surface of your conscious awareness. Then write them down.

1. What kind of problems, struggles, or crises tend to keep repeating in your life?

2. What do you continue to do that is getting in the way of your success?

3. How are you kidding yourself — what lies are you telling yourself or others?

4. How are you sabotaging yourself, but you have your head in the sand about it?

5. What is a central truth (not self-pitying) about the failures you’ve had in the past that involves your choices or behavior?

6. What childish fantasies are you hanging on to?

7. What are you still hoping for that you really know will not come to pass?

8. What secret are you hiding that you don’t want others to discover?

The answers to these questions may feel like a sharp screwdriver opening a can of worms. No one enjoys looking at themselves with honesty and revealing the dark corners of their lives. But within your answers lies the key to changing your life for the better.

Self-awareness is always the first step toward personal evolution and empowerment.

When you see how you’ve been holding yourself back, can you really tolerate living that way any longer? Knowledge is power. Knowledge calls for action.

So let’s drill down even further into possible self-imposed causes for your life struggles. The following 15 questions are related to circumstances or choices that will create repetitive difficulties in your life.

After each statement, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being less true for you and 5 being very true for you.

1. I have not made the choice to be fully alive and authentic because of fear or low self-esteem.

Additional reading: 20 Simple Ways to Stoke Your Self-Confidence

2. I feel the need to be constantly right even though it might push others away.

Additional reading: Control Freakanomics: The Hidden Side of Controlling People

3. I have personal issues or situations from the past that have never been resolved because I don’t want to face them.

Additional reading: Grief and Loss

4. I am addicted or overly attached/dependent on substances, people, or behaviors.

Additional reading: Are You Addicted?

5. I don’t take care of my physical or emotional health in an optimum way.

Additional reading: How to Love Your Body

6. I haven’t defined my core values and/or I’m not living them.

Additional reading: Is Your Life Aligned with Your Values

7. I am living a lie and can’t face up to it.

Additional reading: The Truth Shall Set You Free

8. I have no vision for anything better in my life than what I’m doing now.

Additional reading: The One Non-Negotiable Action You Must Take for a Bold and Fearless Life

9. I have constant financial problems.

Additional reading: Shift Your Thoughts About Money

10. I have difficulties with many of my close relationships or I don’t have positive relationships in my life.

Additional reading: 8 Bad Behavior Habits to Avoid Like the Plague

11. People cross my boundaries or I can’t ask for what I need from my close relationships.

Additional reading: 10 Ways to Establish Personal Boundaries

12. My life is mainly about me.

Additional reading: Harness the Power of a Healthy Attitude

13.  I don’t get why life works well for other people but not for me.

Additional reading: The Secret Life of the Self-Empowered

14. I rarely feel motivated or enthusiastic about anything.

Additional reading: How to Make Big, Bold, Exciting Things Happen

15. I am frequently stressed, overwhelmed, or tired.

Additional reading: The Fine Art of Creating a Balanced Life

Go back through your scores for these statements, and make note of any that were a 4 or 5. This is where you have real learning, growth, and work to do.These are some of the culprits for your constant life struggle.

  • For each one of these areas where you scored yourself a 4 or 5, ask yourself how this statement shows itself in your life.
  • Write down specific examples.
  • Then ask yourself why these things keep happening.
  • What are you doing or not doing that sets you up for this repetitive struggle or difficulty?

If you have created a long pattern of self-defeating behaviors, it may be difficult to unwind yourself and create new behaviors without the help of a coach or counselor. Some patterns are too entrenched.

But you can begin right now to shift your thinking about your role in the struggles you are experiencing. You can start researching and reading about new ways of thinking and behaving (see the articles below each statement above).

Once you isolate the causes of your constant struggles in life, do everything in your power to turn them around. At first it will feel like turning a gigantic ocean liner. But then momentum and energy will take over as you discover the power in facing your difficult truths and taking control of your destiny.

You are not a victim, and once you embrace that, the world is your oyster!

25 thoughts on “Is Life a Constant Struggle? Find the Root Cause and Kill That Sucker”

  1. Hey Barrie,

    It seems to me that for any real change or transformation to occur in our
    lives, we must first have a “white hot” burning desire to achieve change.
    This desire must go WAY beyond having a “it’d be nice if” attitude, and
    must totally dominate our being.

    Amen, and amen! 🙂

    Be well and prosper,


    • While I agree with you in general, Jon, I think real change can happen by accident as well. Oftentimes a change in life circumstances can cause a serious transformation. Of course, sometimes that is because the change in circumstance will lead to that burning desire for change, but other times it happens more serendipitously. For example, if you move to a location where the food is healthier, you are likely to start eating much healthier. After a while it becomes a part of you, and you can eat healthy wherever you go.

    • Hi Mikey,
      Life transitions can definitely trigger an “awakening.” And circumstances (like the example you site) can provide awareness that we need to change. Life experience is often the best teacher if we choose to embrace the lessons.

    • Hi Jon,
      Having that white, hot desire definitely helps. But it also takes awareness to know we need to change. Sometimes we have a vague feeling that something isn’t working, but we haven’t “done the work” to figure out why and how we might be causing the problem. Once you have that awareness, that’s when the desire should kick in. When you know that you’ve been messing up your own life, it’s hard to sit back and be satisfied with that.

    • I don’t know guys why does it happen with me that no motivation works on me. Even if it works it doesn’t change me completely. Its just that I keep feeling that life has nothing but only struggles on my way. Truly speaking I have become so used to the struggles of all kinds that it has made me frustrated, dissatisfied and demotivated. I am an eighteen year old and struggle a lot in my studies? What remedy can you guys suggest so that I can myself completely sure that I would surely be oneday very successful.

  2. Hi Barrie,
    That comfort zone of “doing nothing, it will be OK eventually” is one that many are caught up with. As John says, people must want to change before change can occur. Certainly writing down all your thoughts on this is a good step to start with
    be good to yourself

    • You do have to want it David, I agree. It is sad to see people who have been shown how they contribute to their on struggles, but they choose to continue on the same path. The fear of change (even for the better) is too overwhelming.

  3. Thanks Barrie,

    All excellent step and reflections. Sometimes we like to think that the mightiest challenges will just “turn around.” Then other times we are overwhelmed by the struggle involved in making even the smallest change. In both cases, I believe that we’re focused too much on what’s happening instead of our reactions to it.

    Personally, I’ve found that awareness alone has been an amazing advantage. I hate to use the word but after a time, and as awareness blossoms, it’s almost magical (there, i said it!) My perspective changed radically as self-awareness grew (and grows.)

    Anyway, love your site and views, Barrie. Looking forward to more!


    • Hi Carmelo,
      I don’t think you can underestimate the power of simple awareness. Once you are aware of something, it puts the power squarely in your own hands. Having that choice to make decisions from clarity, even if you must choose something difficult, gives you a sense of control over your destiny. And I agree that shifting your perspective is a great tool. Events are neutral — it’s our reaction to them that creates our reality.

  4. As we think, so we are. As we think habitually, so we stay.

    You provide some great advice and motivation for changing the vehicle that directs us down the road of life. Love the additional reading you provided. So important to locate the cause of our struggles. Reminds me of Thoreau’s great statement that, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” So many people are stuck with assumptions about who is to blame for their circumstances that they never take the time or address themselves with the naked honesty necessary to discover the roots to their struggles.

    Thanks for adding clarity here, Barrie. Lots of great stuff to spend some good quality time with! Especially love the links to all the additional great content.

    • Hi Ken,
      I love that Thoreau quote! I’ve never read it before, but it is powerful. (I may have to borrow it. 🙂 ) I appreciate your kind comments — so glad you enjoyed the post.

  5. I agree with many things that you said
    Everyone always have problems
    We can solve them and create better life
    I’m going on my life to where I want.
    Thanks you

  6. Barrie,

    Excellent post. It especially hits home when you state that we self-create most of our problems. It really is all about our conscious choices from day to day, moment to moment, that can mean the difference between happiness and success, or depression and failure. I have slowly had to learn this the hard way, but having this knowledge–which is power as you say–is the first step in the right direction. Thanks for the reminder to keep us strong.

    • Yes Joshua — we must stay conscious and aware of who we want to be and what we want in life. That is the only way to be a creator rather than a reactor to life.

  7. Unfortunately 99.9% of people are destined to be who they are. I’ve worked in social services for 27 years and can count on one hand the amount of people who turned their lives around.

  8. I am 50+ and found out why my life has seemed to be a struggle for all those years. It began at school when I was bullied by teachers and had my left hand strapped behind my back and forced to write with my “right hand.” This happened quite frequently in those days, however, this seemed to set me up for a lifetime of misery. Recently in 2013 I went to see a psychiatrist. I had been diagnosed with adult ADHD. He explained how this affected people who suffered this horrible condition. I am also dyslexic. I am not bright smart or clever and although I may sound negative, I am not a negative person really. I went into modelling years ago to get away from menial jobs, luckily I had one attribute that made me good money “my looks.” So I used what I had. Many people overlook pain and suffering when they see glamour. I’m now a writer and artist, and that came at a price for me. To use what attributes you have is exactly right, no matter what life throws at you, there is a way out. I found it. Anyone can, you just have to be prepared to realise that you don’t choose your attributes, your born with them. You can make the best of yourself.

  9. I’m feeling stupid in my life now and even before, it’s like struggles is always on my side! I hate it
    I’ve always not passing my Training class for my specific job, I always FOCUSED on my training
    but still, FAILURE always comes on my way..I don’t know what to do, I’m so screwed up!
    sometimes I asked myself am I WORTHY to live here in this earth..?! I don’t feel HAPPINESS since
    I was born! life really sucks! I’m so tired! I need an advice pls.!

  10. Wow Barrie I just saw my life as a case study for anyone in the field of Health and Well being…I made a drastic decision to quit my nowhere job and applied to a position (that a loss of confidence kept me from acting on over and over again) and got and interview for what would seem to be the perfect job and change for me in my life at this point in time…something has got to give…I took the risk and am riding a wave of positive energy for as long as I can even if I do not get the job….I mean…the job description was my resume…but nothing is guaranteed.
    I cant wait to read the above articles to keep the ball moving fwd…its going to be hard as my wife suffers from severe depressive disorders… that doctors keep throwing more and more pills at…and recovery seems almost hopeless….I mean I’ve thought of calling Dr. Phil or something!

    I hope I can find something in these publications that will be that one glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel! Thanks for listening.

  11. This article was truly an eye opener, as i have many problems that can’t be solved, issues such as having a ear deformity and hearing problems that depresses me everyday i wish i was normal like everyone else but, in reality im not.


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