How To Stop Allowing Your Struggles To Define You

How To Stop Allowing Your Struggles To Define You


Hey, readers!  Do you ever feel like you’re moving so quickly that you don’t even process the events unfolding in your life?  This week has felt like that.  I am approaching the sixth-month mark of my new life in Glasgow, and even though things are heading in the right direction, there are still so many things that overwhelm me.

Last week I burst into tears because I felt homesick and just wanted to be home with familiar faces and to see my dog (please, don’t be offended friends and family, but the lack of a pet has been tough).  Monday morning, I had to take a train to an area I am not familiar with to get to a client, and got myself so upset that all the city names are weird and unpronounceable that I cried to a ticket agent, which made my whole morning schedule screwed up. Then, yesterday morning, just seconds before my husband left for work, I burst into tears because I couldn’t face the prospect of being alone for the day, again.

Now, I know, these are not “end of the world” problems.  I also know that SO many people would trade their problems for mine, and believe me, I have the perspective to know when I need to suck it up and get on with things.  I have lost a parent, so,  I know that being homesick, missing trains, and feeling lonely are ridiculous in the grand scheme of things.

However, this doesn’t make my feelings irrelevant. Though, the reason I got so upset in the first place was that I was feeling irrelevant.

As I train to become a Life Coach, I am learning our emotions and how they work to meet our needs, for better or for worse.

One of those needs is achieving a feeling of significance.  

I have struggled most of my life (definitely as the middle child) to feel significant.

I have also suffered most of my life trying to feel important.

What do I mean by this?

I mean, that in as much as I have fought (unarmed battles, albeit) to feel significant, I have also suffered by not meeting my need to feel significant.

It should not come as a surprise that significance is one of the core emotional needs that we all need to meet.

Let’s face it, feeling insignificant sucks.  Big time.

So, no wonder it has caused me both struggle and suffering in my life feeling a lack of personal significance; especially after I got married and decided to start a new life in a foreign country.  Talk about feeling insignificant!  I’m about as insignificant as they come these days.  So it’s safe to say, these feelings have been amplified by my move and are also the reason for my emotional outbursts to anybody who would listen.

Want to know the most frustrating thing about struggling to feel significant?  In trying to nurse your wounds, you do things like, for instance, starting to cry before your husband leaves for work or to the unsuspecting ticket booth employee, because, guess what?  It makes you feel momentarily significant, and thus your emotional need is instantly met.

If you ever want to feel significant — just for the hell of it — get emotional or expose your insecurities in front of another human being.


Whether they have sympathy and empathy for you and/or tell you to grow the hell up, your needs are met.

How To Stop Allowing Your Struggles To Define You

As I have stated before, I am happy that people, like my husband, have made me aware of my need to feel like a victim.  

I know this myself, I mean, I don’t like to hear my clients say negative things about themselves.

So, why do I get into these emotional struggles and sufferings to feel significant with myself?

The reason I get into these states is that I haven’t understood this internal battle until now.  

The combination of continuing training and having a blog is one of the greatest things for those of us on a journey or wanting to connect with others who think and feel the same as we do.  Just sitting down at my laptop and getting these words out is making me feel the right type of significance.  

My struggle and suffering for the need to feel significant have distracted me repeatedly from facing real challenges.

How To Stop Allowing Your Struggles To Define You

My real problems right now are continuing to grow my business, taking the next steps to make sure this is possible, and starting a family.  However, some days these tasks feel impossible.  So, instead of taking steps to work out these issues constructively, I return to my struggle and suffering, and distract myself from the reality of my situation, by telling myself the two following statements.

“I’m not significant enough to have a successful training business.”  Clearly, I must be because I have gone from having no clients to filling up my schedule with clients over the past several weeks.

“Why would people train with me when they have their pick of so many other better-established trainers in this city to choose from?”  I can offer something different, and people enjoy working with me because of how I make them feel and the progress they make by working with me.

How To Stop Allowing Your Struggles To Define You

How To Stop Allowing Your Struggles To Define You

One of the questions a Life Coach will ask once you’ve established that your problem is providing you with a feeling of significance is this:

“Do you feel it’s a personal struggle that’s started to define who you are?”

Maybe you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, or an eating disorder.  Take a step back and ask yourself this question.  Is your personal struggle defining who you are?  Is there a version of you that doesn’t have this issue?  Envision yourself independent of this conflict and ask yourself, “Am I the same person when I take my struggle away?”  Or, more importantly, “Am I afraid of who I will become if I remove my struggle?”

If I take away my struggle to feel significant, I not only envision living a capable life but also a life where I don’t need others to feel capable.

I’m not suggesting that none of us ever needs a boost or help in our lives.  However, if we can determine not only where our struggles lie — and subsequently whether or not we’ve allowed these struggles to define who we are  we may find a way to get past what is indeed standing in our way.

As I wrap up this post, I leave you with an important question to think about before we move on to part 2…

What is your struggle costing you?

Your happiness?  Your health?  Your relationship?  Your dreams?

Think about this and then join me next Thursday for part 2!

[Tweet “What is your struggle costing you? #SelfHelp #MentalHealth via @BeetsPerMinute”]


******I’m linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons today for Thinking Out Loud!*********

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  1. September 3, 2015 / 1:41 pm

    Erin, I love your posts. You touch on some powerful topics that are always thought-provoking.
    I’m sorry that the past week has been difficult for you. I in no way think you are complaining! Moving to a foreign country would be a very difficult transition and I am so impressed by your ability to grow your business and take on new challenges.
    I have struggled with feeling of insignificance for most of my life. Growing up, I was the ‘fat, funny girl’, but of course that is not how I wanted to be seen. Over time, I just wanted to fade into the background and not be noticed at all, or at least that’s what I told myself.
    Sorry for the rambling comment. 🙂

  2. September 3, 2015 / 2:19 pm

    Really well-written! This makes me think about what my purpose on earth here is. I ask myself, what are my gifts? What do I have to offer? Does my adversity give me opportunity for growth or is it keeping me stuck in some sort of victim mode? I can imagine it would be hard for you to be alone all day there, and I’d struggle with my purpose/significance too if it were me, no doubt about it. I love how honest and vulnerable you are with this post. You’re helping a lot of people who are reading this, I know it. I know you’re helping me be more self-aware, that’s for sure! You rock. xo

    • Erin
      September 3, 2015 / 2:29 pm

      Sometimes I think trying to not show my vulnerability is a struggle too, Suzy! This has been a very challenging and emotional week for me, but also a really amazing week for digging deeper into all there is to learn from my behavior. We’re all a bunch of puzzles just trying to put ourselves together. I’m hoping by putting my shit together I can help others do the same! <3

  3. September 3, 2015 / 2:30 pm

    An extremely thought provoking and informative piece of writing Erin.

    I think we all suffer from feeling irrelevant from time to time and crave for that feeling of significance and acceptance. I can relate to that, especially in trying to fit into a new job and company recently, and still trying to do so, and to prove my worth to those who don’t know me. It’s an ongoing challenge.

    And for your huge move and upheaval from one part of the world to another, that certainly hasn’t made the process of feeling significant any more easier for you. But, at least you have identified and are aware of these feelings. 😀

    • Erin
      September 3, 2015 / 2:47 pm

      Thanks so much, Neil! Have you brought your co-workers any of your amazing food? I’ve always found in every office job, the one everybody opens up to is the person holding the cheesecake! 😉 I feel like all the jobs I’ve had it took a good 4-6 months for people start warming up to “outsiders” — especially at places with high turnaround rates! Also, YAY to meeting you on Saturday! 🙂

  4. September 3, 2015 / 2:44 pm

    One of the things I love most about blogging is the self-awareness that comes with trying to help other people. I know that writing about things helped me work through a lot of my own issues, even if my intent was actually to help others. And I’m not sure I’ve ever struggled with significance, but self-confidence is definitely one of my big ones. I cringe to think about how many missed opportunities I have under my belt -just- because I was too afraid to go after them in case I would fail. It’s gotten better the older I’ve gotten, but there’s still a lot of work to be done there.

    • Erin
      September 3, 2015 / 2:49 pm

      So true, Amanda! Blogging is SUCH therapy. I don’t think I would have made it through this week as well as I have if not for that post. You have so much to be proud of and there will be plenty of new opportunities ahead for you! We’re all just trying to get through this life thing… 😉

  5. September 3, 2015 / 2:56 pm

    Very thought-provoking! Not sure if there is much I can say right now in response to my thoughts on this related to myself, but its definitely something I plan to continue to think about. I believe we need to really ask ourselves the tough questions and deal with the sometimes uncomfortable answers in order to be able to progress emotionally. Great post!

    • Erin
      September 3, 2015 / 3:09 pm

      Thanks Lisa! Yes, we always need to ask ourselves questions. Sometimes it’s such a simple thing we need to decide for ourselves and other times it’s a much more complex issue that causing us pain and keeping us from emotional growth. I’m glad you’ve taken my post into consideration should you be faced with something in the future. Of course, I hope you won’t really need it! 😉

  6. September 3, 2015 / 3:57 pm

    I love this post. Really great perspective – it’s true that our struggles should not define who we are as people. My diagnosis with Crohn’s has not only impacted my health, but also my confidence, my relationship with my self and with others. It has taken me close to a year to realize that I need to accept my disease but not let it control the outcome of the rest of my life. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    • Erin
      September 3, 2015 / 4:03 pm

      I’m glad that the post spoke to you, Jamie. I feel for you so much. I just started training a client who is newly diagnosed with Chron’s. She is just like you in that she just wants to get back in control of her health and her life and not let this disease get in her way or define her. Our struggles are a PART of who we become, but they are not WHO we are! <3

  7. September 3, 2015 / 7:31 pm

    This blog is great!!! I struggle with depression amongst PTSD. I choose not to let it define me anymore. I spent years keeping how I felt inside and now let’s just say I let it flow. It is very hard to let others know how we are feeling and many of them don’t understand. I am so tired of hearing “cheer up” if only it were that easy. I was in the Army and I know how it feels to be overseas without much of anyone. On the bright side not many people have the opportunity so enjoy

    • Erin
      September 3, 2015 / 8:50 pm

      Thank you, Heather! Wow, I’m sorry you’re dealing with PTSD. I feel like I experienced it as well through my father’s illness and his death. I know it’s not the same as the Army, but anything that leaves that impact on you is tough to get past at times. I know I have a great opportunity over here and I have a wonderful husband so 97% of the time, I know this. It’s just that 3% that I have to contend with every so often. Thank you so much for stopping by. I will have to check out your blog! <3

  8. September 3, 2015 / 7:58 pm

    So heartfelt and intelligently written. I definitely have had some issues in the past of trying to understand my significance in the world, to decide what I was here to do, how I would leave my mark. I went to school, graduated and worked in non-profit, which I felt should help me feel significant in that I was helping people, but instead my heart wasn’t in it and I felt like a fake. I never really felt like i met my potential or that my purpose in life was met until I became a mom. I still struggle iwth it (now it’s more like – is this my only purpose? Never satisfied ahha) but being a mom and being so responsible for another person definitely showed my my path and my purpose

    • Erin
      September 3, 2015 / 8:59 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Morgan! It’s very clear to me that motherhood suits you and you’re really in your element with it. I hope that having a baby feels that way for me too. I am hoping we will start a family soon! I’m sure motherhood make everything different for the better! <3

  9. September 5, 2015 / 10:09 pm

    Great post Erin. It’s been hard for me to go from a very demanding high-profile job to blogger where I work from home. You’ve touched on some big issues for me too. Very thought provoking– thanks for writing this.

    • Erin
      September 6, 2015 / 9:53 am

      Great, Julie! Come back for part 2 as well. I think we’ve all got these internal struggles that are complicating where our focus and passion should be. I’m sure making that career change was something challenging and rewarding. Surely the structure of your day has got to be different. I’m so glad my post has given you some insight into areas you may still struggle with! Your blog is wonderful!

  10. September 6, 2015 / 1:33 pm

    WOW. Okay, so I’m sure you can guess by my victim mentality post that defining myself by depression is DEFINITELY a struggle of mine. It’s something I’ve come to realize more and more in the past couple years. And while awareness is super huge and important to have before you can make change, I suspect I have stagnated at the awareness stage. So then this part of your post really hit me: “Envision yourself independent of this struggle and ask yourself, “Am I the same person when I take my struggle away?”” That gets really confusing in my head, to be honest. Because my struggle has shaped so much of the good parts of who am I too. So maybe it’s a balancing act, kind of like holding a butterfly in your hand. Hold too tightly and it’s crushed, but hold too loosely and it escapes. So if you cling to your struggle to the point that it defines you, then you’ll be held back in life. But if you completely separate yourself from the struggle, then perhaps you’ll lose the lessons that can be gleaned from it. If that makes sense?

    Buuuut then I had another thought. You shaped your example of struggle as a struggle to *gain* something you need. So by that definition, depression is not my struggle. Depression could potentially be filling some kind of need, and therefore depression could be one way of solving the struggle?? (Of course, since it’s an organic illness for me, that wouldn’t be the whole story. But that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be a piece of it). If that’s the case, then I’d be curious to figure out what need it is that’s getting fulfilled there. Maybe the need to be taken care of? I suppose that’s possible. Definitely something for me to mull over! Because if the actual struggle is something I’m not (yet) aware of, then of course I won’t be able to address it. Time for me to put my thinking cap on, I guess. 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing these insights! I absolutely love how you’re taking a professional training and applying it to yourself as opposed to viewing it as a more academic exercise alone. It’s so inspiring to watch! I love reading your writing so much, too, and a lot of it is really resonating with me. I’m so grateful to have “met” you 🙂

    • Erin
      September 6, 2015 / 4:17 pm

      Hey, Ashleigh! I emailed you my response! It was a bit of a novel and more than my comments could handle! 🙂

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