Today I got to discussing with somebody the idea of struggle. It’s a common theme that runs throughout many people’s lives. I speak daily with those that have experienced many years of difficult times, often starting from childhood, and lasting throughout their life.

Incidents of abuse, neglect, and struggles to find oneself as they grow to adult life. Marriages ending suddenly, breakdowns, car crashes, illness, pain, and brain tumours. These are just some of the recent stories I’ve listened to. ‘Struggle’ for so many is an ingrained part of existence.

At some stage in the process of self-discovery there can be an opening up to a sense of peace, and stillness, which some people have been struggling to find in life.

Finding peace, and a sense of calm, can be a surreal experience. Longer and longer periods of time where an inner stillness is becoming more part of everyday life, can often lead to yet another struggling … that of trying to keep hold of it.

This gets me to thinking about that most common of human traits, in which we so often return to what we know. To old ‘patterns’, and familiar ways of doing things. There seems here an opportunity for a shift in perception.

When I think about people searching for success, I don’t think of ‘struggle’. I hear of people striving for success, striving for a good life, striving to achieve. I rarely hear them describe the struggle for success, the struggle to live a good and fruitful life, or the struggle to achieve.

So, yesterday, I found myself asking somebody, “are you struggling to retain that sense of peace, or are you striving for more peace in your life?” In that moment, I witnessed an incredible shift. Their face lit up, their eyes grew wide, and I began to tingle. It was a very special moment, where possibility opened up to them, and where a new way became possible.

I was reminded in that moment of the power of one word. The depth of just one single word, and the meaning of it, can permeate through us to the depths of our existence. For them the word ‘struggle’ was just another part of their ongoing negative life experience. Striving, however, for what they wanted, was a whole new angle; one that came with positive, and exciting connotations.

So, are you struggling to escape what you don’t want, or striving for what you do want? Becoming clear on this could well create a shift that might just change everything.


Author: Dr Tom Barber

Dr Tom Barber is a #1 bestselling author, integrative and existential psychotherapist and coach, speaker, and co-founder of Self Help School, and Contemporary College of Therapeutic Studies. His work has spanned over 25 years, in which he has focussed on helping people all over the world to improve their knowledge and understanding of their psychological worlds. Tom regularly delivers courses and lectures in the UK, USA, Canada, Mexico, and across Europe. In addition, he maintains a private therapy and coaching consultancy, and psychotherapy training college from his base in London.