The struggles make us stronger

When you’re struggling the worst thing someone can say is “Don’t worry, this struggle is making you stronger.” It makes me want to punch something. All of those cliché sayings are really awful in the moment, even if they do contain some truth. 
It is really hard to see someone you care about struggle. We want to stop the suffering and take it away. We would rather carry the burden ourselves than see someone else carry it. 
Why is that?
I was listening to a podcast interview of the Iron Cowboy. He ran 50 Ironmans in 50 consecutive days in 50 states. Essentially he was biking, swimming, or running for 12 hours a day, traveling to another state, and getting about 4 hours of sleep a night. To say that he suffered some pain is probably the understatement of the century. 
I can barely push through a 6-mile workout or a bootcamp in 90 degree heat, and that makes me feel incredibly proud. How did he do it? How does an ordinary man break through his own self-imposed physical and mental limitations and shatter a Guinness World Record? How does someone push through pain when all the brain wants to do is end suffering and keep us alive? 
Pain is a signal that we need to address. It is a signal to ourselves that we are in need of something. Of course, what the brain logically wants to do is stop everything and stop the pain. I think this is what people in our lives are trying to do for us, too. They want the pain to stop, they want you to be happy as much as possible. 
But each of us knows when we have more to give. We know when there is a deeper depth of the well of strength where we can dig deep and give more. But we only reach that place when we push past the suffering. If we let our loved ones take away our pain, we never know how deep our well goes. 
Rock bottom is a gift. We must find our own strength to push and get back up. Suffering is a gift. It makes us reassess what is important and find new answers to problems we’ve been dealing with. It makes me think of the Einstein quote “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” 
If you are suffering right now, you have my deepest compassion. I’m here for you and I see you, friend. You are here in this suffering, and it’s real. When you’re ready to dig out, look deep. Find a new solution. Change your perspective. If you’ve always done things in one particular way, try something completely new and different. Put yourself in the shoes of someone you admire or imagine yourself in 10 years (they say we all get wiser with time, right?). What would that person do? 
If you are watching someone you care about suffer, you also have my compassion. Understand that your presence and support are the absolute best things you can offer. Tell your friend what I said above “I’m here for you. I see you, and I’m witnessing you.” Remain present. Put your phone away, turn off the part of your brain trying to speak in quotes and clichés. Just be in the moment with them. You are giving a wonderful gift by letting the other person build the muscle of self-sufficiency and personal strength and resilience. Your presence is also a gift. When we know that another person is willing to just be with us, not try to fix us or make life pretty, we feel released from a burden. Remove your fear that the other person isn’t strong enough. They have enough on their plate without including your doubt.

When in doubt, think of the chicken and the egg. Have you ever seen a chicken break through its shell? The process of pushing and struggling to break through the shell is how the chicken builds its strength to survive. If someone else were to break the shell for it, the chick would not survive. 
Life is tough. No one gets out alive. The best we can do is our best and love one another. We all have our own struggles that are in our path to make us stronger. 

Your turn. When was a time you were struggling and you realized after it was over that you were glad it happened the way it did?  Tell me your story in the comments below. I want to hear from you! 

Lots of love,