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Mental Strength and the Inevitable Struggles of Life

This post is a bit off the cuff, compared to most of the others you’ll find here. The only reason I’m even including it is because I’ve been thinking about this a lot for the past couple days and I want to touch on it briefly, before I lose my train of thought.

We all struggle from time to time. The things we struggle with might vary, but struggling is indeed a part of life. Another thing that varies from one person to another is the amount of complaining we do. Some people have average problems and seem to complain all the time. Surprisingly enough, you’ll also find people whose problems seem nonexistent, or at least very minor, who also complain at every opportunity.

Then there are those whose problems seem to make all of the rest of ours pale, by comparison. These are the folks who absolutely fascinate me, because compared to the rest of us, NOTHING seems to break them. I’ve long admired people who struggle with deadly diseases and physical disabilities, because of the level of mental strength they’re able to muster up to tackle the various complexities of human life. While the rest of us are comparing our situations to great tragedies, they have to struggle to do some of the most basic things that we take for granted.

Upon reflection, I think I understand better now why you don’t hear these people complain as much. The problems they face are rarely fixable. If they’re suffering from something like cancer, it’s highly unlikely that complaining is going to help them very much. In fact, it’s probably only going to make them feel worse and they certainly don’t need that. Whereas with the rest of us, when we complain, we get people to feel sorry for us and do nice things for us in an attempt to cheer us up. That might help if you’re having a bad day, but it’s little consolation when you’re facing your own mortality.

Since I’ve never suffered from anything that bad, I can’t say for sure how I would be affected by it. But I do read lots of books and articles by people who have, and for most of them, the last thing they want is for anyone to feel sorry for them. If you were to ask them what they want more than anything else in the world, their answer would most likely be to get better again. That right there tells you that they’d rather not be reminded of their misfortunes, despite our most compassionate intentions. Most of them just want to be thought of no differently than the rest of us. They don’t want to be defined by their troubles.

Of course, another point worth mentioning is that sometimes what one person considers a struggle might not even faze someone else. But see, that’s the whole reason why I started this site to begin with. This entire website is about topics that pertain in some way to mental strength because it’s the biggest factor in determining how well we’re able to handle the various struggles of our lives. Whether we want to admit it or not, a large number of people today have nowhere near the coping ability of our ancestors in the not-too-distant past.

Don’t get me wrong, as I don’t mean to beat up on them here. Everyone has their struggles and how they feel to each individual depends on a number of factors such as how they were raised, what sort of childhood they had, whether they were bullied or not, the quality of their relationships, their attitude toward life, state of mental health, etc… What I aim to do with everything I post on this site is not to knock those who struggle or to get them to forget that ugly things might have happened to them, but rather to promote the cultivation of mental strength as a way to both counter the way one chooses to process these things and to help them prepare for the other struggles that life will undoubtedly bring in the future.

Try as we might, we cannot change what has already happened to us. If we were bullied or abused as children, nothing on this planet can ever make that go away. Nothing can bring back the parent who abandoned us. The past has been both written and read. At this point, all one can do is turn the page and prepare for whatever struggles the chapters ahead will bring. The best way to do this is to get out of our comfort zones and learn to challenge ourselves on a daily basis.

Just as physical exercise makes a body stronger despite whatever it has been through, mental exercise strengthens our ability to endure the psychological beatings of life. Pushing yourself to overcome your fears, develop better habits, drop harmful addictions and chase after loftier goals is basically just resistance training for the mind. It is my hope to get my readers here more focused on doing these sorts of things for themselves and in turn helping me to promote THIS type of message by their example, rather than enabling the current trend toward a victim mentality.

If there’s one thing we can learn from our sick and disabled brothers and sisters, it’s that regardless of what we may be going through, it could always be worse. Unless you’re dying, there will almost always be someone who would gladly trade places with you to get some relief from the pain and suffering they push through every day of their lives. They would gladly take your shitty job, put up with your social media haters, and even kiss that awful mother-in-law of yours if it would give them back the full and relatively painless use of their bodies.

So instead of thinking of your life as a series of consecutive tragedies, try to think of your struggles as opportunities to test what you’re made of. You never know what the future might bring and it’s entirely possible that as hard as your life might seem right now, you might someday find yourself fighting an incurable illness or paralyzed below the waist from an accident you never saw coming. Don’t wait until then to appreciate the blessings you’ve been taking for granted, as you wallow in self-pity. Life is far more beautiful than many people realize and the stronger you become both inside and out, the more beautiful memories you’ll have to look back on when the clock runs out.

Mark Abbott

42 Comments

  1. I personally usually loose my minds may be because am ever stressed But  if I have strong mind, nothing can over wheel me.Personal mind strength is power full if you don’t have world problems but still,  we can guide for those people to come to settle down. otherwise thanks for sharing with us

    • So true, Atwabi! A strong mind can get a person through the toughest of circumstances. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  2. I’ve always seen problems and obstacles as opportunities, knowing that in the end I’ll be a stronger person and better off. I recently was faced with financial hardship after becoming disillusioned from my previous place of work. Took a job where I had no experience and so far I’m crushing it, making more money than ever before. I still want to re-enter the industry I had to leave for a time, but it shows how a problem can always be spun into something positive.

    The more obstacles we face and overcome, the stronger we become as people. Life begins when we leave our comfort zone, and while they might look like curses, they’re almost always blessings.

    • That is so true, Todd. There is nothing to be gained by hiding from life. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  3. Great post Mark.

    This subject – mental strength, has held my interest for many years and I have the same questions as you do.

    How does one person get through life when every step of the way someone or something seems to keep kicking them down but another person crumbles (mentally) when some small adversity strikes.

    I have a theory that is a bit controversial. I feel that the way things work in the world now, our children aren’t equipped to deal with less than a perfect world. Society isn’t teaching our younger generation the art of resilience.  In sport, everyone gets a trophy, no one fails anything. In my experience (all 53 years of it) I have learnt that the world isn’t perfect and sometimes it just outright sucks but I roll with it and keep punching. The sun will always come up in the morning.

    Interested in your thoughts?

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    Regards

    Ian

    • Yes! I wholeheartedly agree. My grandmother is almost 97 years old and she’s got more grit in her at this age than most people today do in their twenties. Things used to be very different and people had no choice but to suck it up back then. As you mentioned, it’s all about the participation trophies these days. All about how people feel and making them feel good, rather than challenging them.

      This does young people today a tremendous disservice, as they’re ill-prepared to deal with the sorts of difficulties life will inevitably throw at them. Then when it does happen, it strikes them as being very unfair and they begin looking for someone to blame.

      The way I see it, you don’t get any stronger, either physically or mentally, until you’re subjected to challenges. If you’re constantly shielded from them and coddled, you won’t know what to do when something really bad happens. It’s a very sad state of affairs, indeed. 

  4. People have a lot of limiting beliefs and some of them don’t even know they have it! It’s a systematic thing that blinds people’s lives unless someone is able to point it out to them. The main thing is being aware of those limiting beliefs and it’s up to that person if they are willing to take action or become a victim in their own poison. It’s easier to complain and get a short positive gratification from people, but it will only end up hurting themselves long term. 

    • Absolutely, Ariana. Some people can easily end up becoming their own worst enemies. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  5. Mark, 

    This is beautifully written. I commend you on your ability to touch on such important topics. I find that we spend so much time doing things that don’t really matter. A lot of us do very little in the sense of working on our character and integrity, and spend so much time doing things that just don’t mean anything. There have been so many things that I’ve done in the past that felt so important, but I look back now, and the only things they’ve been good for is providing examples of what not to do. I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to wrestle with my mind and find some deeper goals in my life. I’m so glad that I’ve taken the time to look at what it is I do and whether it serves me or not. I’m so glad I had some incredible people who could help me ask the important questions to myself. Thanks for this awesome post and I’m very happy to know you’re on the path my dude.

    Regards,

    MIchael

    • Very true, Michael. Sometimes we do have to take a closer look at our lives to get a better perspective on things. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  6. I think it is really important to always be grateful for what you have. One thing that I have learned in my life is that all the challenging and painful things that we experience pass and I always seem to learn a lesson. When times are tough I try to think about what can I take from this. These hard times are what make me strong.

    • Absolutely, Wendy. We live and we learn from life, both from our good and bad experiences. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  7. Interesting post thank you for sharing . I feel I am fairly tolerant  of people over understanding that all of us are different , have different needs and wants ect . The one thing that really does get under my skin is listening to people who complain about the littlest things , my god..  I think to myself … stop and take a look around . We all don’t need to look very far to find people who are in far worse situation than ourselves..I am not saying that I don’t complain , I think it is deep rooted in our souls , I am just trying to say before you start on your next rant about anything , just stop and think for a minute . The person you are talking about is someones , wife , husband , son or daughter . Yes you leg maybe sore , at least you still have 2 . Treat and talk about others the way you want to be treated .. 

    • So true, Rick. As the saying goes, it could always be worse! Thanks for stopping by.

      Mark

  8. Loved the article and the insight you provided from different perspectives. I’m an addict/alcoholic and was one of those “oh poor me poor me (poor me another drink) type of attitudes. I’ve learned that life goes on no matter the situations. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer three years after I got clean, and she was affraid to tell me because of my past history and making things about myself. Today I’m 5 years clean and my mother is still alive, I talk to her all the time and we live life today day by day. That’s all we have and we live for the moment. 12-step programs taught me that and my mother taught me even more after her dx. I love what you are doing here and will be following your site. Appreciate all that you will do to help others.

    • Much appreciated, Jason. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your story. My best wishes to both you and your mother. Make the best of those precious moments, my friend.

      Mark

  9. Hey i really enjoyed this article, i really needed to see this article right now.  I am going through so much and i have been the last 2 years.  I actually made a second website just for mental health and about everything i have been going through.  I have to try to be more positive and get through what i am going through.

    • I feel ya, Justin. The reason I created this site in the first place was to make sense of the stuff I’ve dealt with and pass on what I’ve learned. As different as people can be, the same themes affect us all and sharing experiences can help put things into perspective. 

  10. Hello Mark, the topic is quite fascinating.  Struggling is a part of life, however I believe that we all react differently to struggles. There are people that naturally cannot bear any form of discomfort not to talk of when it is an ailment. These are the types that complain a lot. However there are some that cannot be weighed down by the circumstances of life, these types rarely complain but rather bear all the pains with smiling face.People with terminal illness like cancer may not complain simply because they need all the stamina they can muster. Again just like you said, they believe that their situation is hopeless and would rather not talk or be reminded about it. I could remember vividly when my elder brother was down with tooth cancer, it wasn’t a pleasant experience, but he was strong and rarely complained till the  end of his journey.  Sometimes it boils down to emotional well being of the individual.

    • Absolutely! Hence the importance of developing one’s mental strength. I believe everyone can become stronger mentally, just as they can physically. Many don’t want to be bothered by the idea of developing themselves in such a way. They would rather sit back and “enjoy life” in whatever way they feel suits them than spend the rest of their lives on any form of self-improvement. Unfortunately, life doesn’t care. It will continue to throw things at us, whether we’re used to tackling challenges or not. It’s up to us to decide whether the comfort zone is worthwhile or not. But I do feel that emotional well-being is worth making every effort to attain. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  11. I always believe that anything that does not kill me only makes me stronger. Mental strength is really important because when someone has mental strength, you will be able to go through any obstacle in life. With mental strength, the issue of depression will never arise. Thanks for sharing this great information that can help a lot of people survive.

    • Thanks, Linus! Yes, I’m hoping it will help as many people as possible. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  12. I have encountered so many challenges and struggles  of life,but that alone is a motivation for me to focus on my goals. We can’t do without tragedies and difficulties in life, The best we can do is to see challenges as a stepping stone and opportunities to test what we are made of. I could remember while I was sacked from my job; I thought it was the end for me not knowing God has just started with my Life, I decided to shift to being an entrepreneur and I make more than what an average employee in my previous company makes in a month. Life is a lesson 

    • That’s awesome! You turned a bad situation into a good one. Best wishes to you, my friend!

      Mark

  13. Thanks for this motivational article on mental strength and inevitable struggles of life.

    thinking about all the challenges of life and struggling one is passing through all the time,you will think more while you do less or nothing about the challenges and this makes the struggle continue for a long period of time. The best thing to do in any situation or challenges of life is to keep moving on and never giveup. because no human knows tomorrow and what tommorow will bring

  14. The struggles of life is indeed inevitable and for anyone to keep moving forward you need this mental strength. There are situations of life that can drill you so hard that you might even start getting depressed but when the mind has sufficient strength, you wouldn’t let depression creep in your life because depression would make you loose sense of vision and articulation which might result to lose of already set goal thereby set back surfaces. God forbid!  We just have to always trust in God and believe in ourselves that we can reach that lofty height. 

    • Absolutely! The stronger you are mentally, the better. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  15. Mental strength is everything. It is true that sometimes we might think our challenges are insurmountable but when we look out of the window and see what others are going through, we just drop ours and pity them. It is however most important we draw strength from others’ trials because if they suffer more than us, it means they are stronger than we are; that is why nature threw such heavy challenge to them. 

    If we exercise our mental strength daily, we will be able to overcome almost anything life throws at us. We can always draw strength from our troubles. 

    I really enjoyed reading this. 

    Cheers, 

    Sammy. 

  16. You’re absolutely right, Mark. Everybody has their own problems and struggles to deal with; nobody is excused, not even the wealthiest and healthiest people. Trials and difficulties are part of this thing called “life.” But how do we deal with them? Do we embrace them? Complain about them or use them as an excuse to not reach our potentials?

    I know some people who have been through a lot but not once did I ever hear them complain or blame somebody else. Instead, I see them use their inevitable struggles as an opportunity to explore their strengths and potentials. At the end of the day, it’s all about having the will and determination to rise above every hurdle we might have to go through. 

    • Absolutely, Alice. Some of the most inspiring survivors out there are the ones who have fought life-threatening diseases and somehow managed to still crack a smile. If they can push through something that bad and still find a reason to keep going, then so can I. At the very least, I can read their stories for insight into how they can see the world so differently from the rest of us, because that’s where the wisdom lies. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  17. Nice post. Here is a bit of my experience. I suffered from health anxiety and panic attacks growing up. I guess I was too young to be told how my health issues could affect my life and they did me so much harm. I grew up with depression and I realised just as you have cited that activities such as exercises helped a lot. I began to focus on other things in my life. I came out of my shell and started hanging out with friends more often and now I tell you I have almost outgrown the in between moments in my life 

    • Yes, exercise is probably the best thing one can do for themselves, both physically and mentally. If you have to fight with yourself to get motivated, half the battle is just moving your body when you’d rather stay in bed. If you’re in bad physical shape, it’ll be that much harder. Not to mention that you need to get some victories under your belt to feel good about yourself and about life. If you can get into decent physical shape, maybe lose a few pounds and actually look and feel much better, that’s a MAJOR victory and a cornerstone you can build upon. Everything starts to get better from there. Glad you’re doing better!

      Mark

  18. Mental Toughness. As a very young person I would often wish I was mentally tough. Of course I did not know what it was called then but I knew it was something that I did not have. I am grateful that I now have my fair share.

    Everyone handles situations differently and to a great extent this depends on how mentally tough they are. It is a characteristic that can be developed if you recognize that it is lacking like I did early in my life.

    Some people just accept themselves as they are not knowing that they could improve certain qualities. I like the information you are providing on this site. I hope you are able to attract the type of readers who will want to take appropriate action to strengthen their minds and develop themselves to the point where they can withstand the tough situations in life.

    You are doing great. Keep it up.

    • Thanks, Coach! I hope so, as well. Human beings are capable of so much more than they realize and much of it comes down to the way we think. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  19. Thank you Mark,

    You nailed it. I think what some people don’t understand or may they don’t have the drive to understand is when it comes to awareness of ourselves, and our attitude (unless someone has a real mental illness) then we are all on equal playing grounds. Any self pity parties, are just a cop out. It is so much easier or at least it appears easier just to woe is me instead of take responsibilities for ourselves, and that includes our thoughts.

    I really liked this article Mark, and I agree with you totally.

    Sara

  20. Hi Mark. Wonderful article. It’s true, mindset can determine whether you view a certain situation as the greatest tragedy of your life, or the best thing that could’ve happened to you.

    But I know you’re talking about everyday occurrences too. I have been guilty of making a mountain out of a molehill, or letting someone’s snide remark ruin my afternoon. Why do we love to feel sorrow for ourselves so much? Is it as you say, so others will feel sorry for us too?

    You’ve got your work cut out for you Mark, with this brilliant website whose task is examining the modern human mindset. I’ll be tuning in. Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights.

    Sue

    • Thanks, Sue! Glad you enjoy the site. The way I see it, it’s all about mindset. We have the power to make a heaven out of a hell or a hell out of a heaven, yet we never seem to remember this when we need it the most. That’s why I started this site. I’m hoping that since we all need these reminders to help reset our perspective, the people who need it the most will stumble upon it and maybe it can help them somehow. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  21. What an insightful article that touched me. I am the same as you I always fascinate by those people that their problems keep coming at them non stop but instead of complaining about it they decide to do something with their problems. I like to consider myself as a problem solver and if I can spare my time to help others I am happy to help them as well since it makes me feel good about myself. Lately, I have been suffering with health issue, marriage, finance problems. CAn’t they just come one at a time?, I thought to myself. However, like you said these problems will make me stronger and will make more overcome anything that life has to offer. I will keep on fighting. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    • Yes! Never stop fighting! While problems themselves will always exist in one form or another, it won’t always be the same ones. Chances are, in a couple years, you’ll look back on the ones you’re facing right now as part of your past that you will have moved on from by then. You’ll have other challenges, but they’ll be different ones and you will have grown and become stronger through it all. Best wishes to you!

      Mark

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