The role of struggle in young people’s health

The role of struggle in young people’s health

Is it our purpose in life to struggle? 

I love to ponder big questions like this one. I find that it can open the mind, expand our critical thinking, increase our knowledge and even enhance our self-awareness. If this is something you would like to do for yourself, I invite you to consider your thoughts on the above question. 

The meaning of struggle 

What does the word ‘struggle’ mean to you? According to the Cambridge dictionary, it means “to experience difficulty and make a very great effort in order to do something.” As a verb, it’s something that we physically do, battling with strenuous effort against the difficulties life throws our way. 

I saw this effort a lot when I worked in schools, witnessing the form struggle took in young people’s every day. It was clear from their actions and behaviour that it was not a state of being they enjoyed – even watching them go through this from an outside perspective was difficult. From the principal’s office to the classrooms, everyone could see what the struggling students were going through, and I’m sure their parents were no strangers to it either. 

So, with this being such a common and widespread action, what purpose does it have the play in our lives, and particularly the lives of our children?

The purpose of struggle 

Truly, struggle is everywhere. All you have to do is turn on the TV and grim images will flash before you. The horrors of war, sirens at accident sites, and the sad sight of young people battling their mental health demons. Every day we see the reality of human struggle before our eyes, an endless stream of pain, loss and heartbreak that magnifies our own feelings of struggle. This means it’s not just our own hardships we struggle with, but the hardships of thousands, if not millions. 

So, does this mean that struggle is a prerequisite for living on planet Earth? I don’t believe it has to be. 

Redefining struggle 

When our brain is focused on the negative aspects of life, it’s easy to see struggle everywhere, day after day. There are whole professions dedicated to helping those struggling with life, from doctors to psychologists. In fact, I do what I do to help relieve the pressures of struggling students and young people. 

Seeing what they were going through every day inspired me to create an education program that would alleviate these pressures and hardships. In part, this is achieved by teaching them about who they are and how their brain works, so they can readapt and restructure their perceptions to enhance their life coping abilities. 

This does not mean eliminating struggle. After all, great power and growth can emerge from the other side of hardship. It can help us build resilience, and evolve into stronger people. The difference comes from redefining what struggle is. 

Rather than something terrible to battle through, we can face struggle with ease and grace. In my teaching, I encourage this by replacing the ‘struggle’ with ‘tricky’. The connotations of this word are different and lighter. You could use it to refer to a tricky puzzle, or describe a tricky magician who makes it look easy to pull money from behind your ears. Instead of facing an upward battle, it becomes something to problem-solve. 

When you solve problems and move forward, you can come out the other side with a life lesson in hand and better equipped for future tricky situations. Through this, we can change for the better and continue to evolve through life. This is what I think our purpose is, our prerequisite for living on planet Earth – to grow, learn and change. 

Do you believe something different? I would love to hear your thoughts on struggle. 

Is your child struggling with life? Talk to The Resilience Tutor

Through my education program, I’ll help your child deal with the tricky things that come their way. As an educator for over two decades, I’ll leverage my experience to ensure they know how to navigate and understand the value of experience in their lives. Book a call and talk to me today.

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