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!