Have you ever wondered why life seems so difficult? Why does it often feel like an endless uphill battle filled with challenges, obstacles, and struggles? You're not alone. The truth is that life is hard for all of us in many complex ways. In this blog post, we'll explore the top 10 reasons why life is so difficult, look at the most common challenges people face, and discuss how we can start to make life a little bit easier despite its inherent difficulties. Keep reading to gain insight into this universal human experience.
Our Emotions Make Life Harder
As human beings, we are highly emotional creatures. Our desires, needs, fears, and anxieties often conflict with reality, other people, or even our own values and goals. This makes life much more complicated and challenging than it would be if we were purely rational beings.
Strong emotions like anger, jealousy, grief, or inadequacy can feel overwhelming and make even small problems feel monumental. Things like rejection, failure, loss, and conflict trigger difficult emotions that negatively impact our ability to cope and function. Learning to understand, accept, and constructively channel our emotions takes a lifetime of effort and doesn't always get easier.
Obstacles and Hardships Are Unavoidable
No matter who you are or what your circumstances are, life will throw obstacles and hardships your way. Setbacks like illnesses, accidents, deaths of loved ones, natural disasters, financial struggles, broken relationships, or mental health issues can happen to anyone at any time.
Dealing with unexpected problems and crises, especially when they occur simultaneously, can feel like an insurmountable challenge. Finding the inner strength to endure and overcome major setbacks and heartbreaks often seems impossible in the moment. The unavoidability and unpredictability of obstacles and hardships is a huge contributor to how painfully difficult life can be.
We Compare Ourselves to Others
Human beings have an innate tendency to compare themselves to others. The problem is that we usually compare our inner feelings and struggles to others' outer appearances and public successes. This makes us feel like everyone else has it easier or better than we do, increasing feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, and jealousy.
Social media exacerbates this by creating the illusion that everyone else is living happy, successful lives. What we don't see is their behind-the-scenes struggles, which are just as real as our own. Comparing our daily realities to others' carefully curated highlights sets us up for feelings of failure, isolation, and "not enoughness." It distorts our perceptions of our own lives.
Negative Thoughts Impact Our Perception
Our thoughts play a huge role in how we perceive life's difficulties and our ability to handle them. When we engage in negative, self-critical thoughts, it colors everything in our lives. Suddenly small frustrations seem like huge tragedies. Minor mistakes seem like catastrophic failures.
Negative rumination distorts our perceptions and saps our motivation to take constructive action. It sends us into shame, hopelessness, and self-pity, making life seem infinitely harder than it would otherwise. Our thoughts strongly influence our emotions and strongly impact how we experience life's inevitable difficulties.
Stressors Cause Distress
External stressors like work pressure, financial burdens, family obligations, health concerns, lack of time, or conflict with others put us in a constant state of low-grade stress and anxiety. This eats away at our energy, positivity, and feelings of wellbeing.
Living with high stress levels means little frustrations set us off more easily. We have less patience, self-control, and emotional bandwidth to deal with life's obstacles and interpersonal conflicts. Being depleted by constant stressors leaves us feeling helpless, hopeless, and spread too thin. This compounds the difficulties of issues that come up, making them feel much harder to face.
Fear Holds Us Back
Fear and anxiety frequently hold us back from living life fully. We fear failure, embarrassment, rejection, the unknown, uncertainty, and even success. This prevents us from taking risks, putting ourselves out there, and going after what we truly want. Playing it safe seems easier.
But in the long run, living in fear increases feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction, missed opportunities, and regret. It erodes self-esteem and leads to living reactively rather than creating the life you want. Pushing past fearful thoughts is extremely challenging, which is why fear is such an obstacle in life. It paralyzes us from taking actions that could benefit our lives immensely.
Unrealistic Expectations Set Us Up for Failure
Many of us hold ourselves to unrealistic standards and have perfectionist tendencies. We expect to be extremely successful in our careers, have ideal bodies, keep an immaculate house, be amazing parents, make tons of money, travel the world, maintain flawless relationships, and be perfectly happy at all times.
When life fails to meet these lofty expectations, we feel like failures ourselves. Unrealistic expectations set us up for perpetual disappointment and prevent us from appreciating the genuine joys and successes we do experience. Letting go of perfectionistic tendencies can be incredibly difficult, which is why unrealistic standards contribute to life feeling hard and unsatisfying.
Relying on Others for Happiness Backfires
Many of us put our happiness in the hands of others, relying on things like romantic relationships, friendships, children, careers, or material things to make us happy. The problem is other people and external things are not direct controllable sources of lasting fulfillment.
Basing your entire happiness solely on another person or external situation inevitably leads to disappointment because people and circumstances change. Clinging too tightly to others pushes people away. When things we rely on for happiness are taken away, it can lead to feelings of utter hopelessness and despair.
Learning to find stable wellbeing from within and let go of attachment is a very challenging but critical life lesson. Until we stop overrelying on others for happiness and validation, we will continue to struggle with feelings of dissatisfaction, emptiness, and grief when people or situations change. This emotional rollercoaster makes life much more challenging than it needs to be.
Giving Up Too Easily Becomes a Habit
When life gets challenging, difficult, or stressful, it's tempting to react by withdrawing, avoiding problems, distracting ourselves, or simply giving up. And giving up occasionally during especially hard times is understandable. The danger is when giving up becomes our default, our reflexive approach to any difficulty or setback that arises.
Giving up easily turns into a habit that prevents us from developing resilience, perseverance, and coping skills. Taking the easy way out usually leads to more struggles down the road. Avoiding problems just allows them to fester and grow. Giving up at the first sign of challenge on important goals, relationships, or dreams virtually guarantees a life of regret and unfulfilled potential. Breaking this harmful habit is extremely difficult.
Caring Too Much What Others Think Of Us
Many of us care too much about what other people think of us. We become preoccupied with questions like: Do people like me? Do I seem successful? Do I look attractive? Did I make a good impression? What do people think of my life and my choices?
This strong need for validation and approval from others drives us to conform, hide struggles, pretend, and avoid rejection at all costs. However, putting up a facade, being inauthentic, and chasing validation never actually fulfills us. And when we do get criticized, judged, or rejected, it cuts incredibly deep. Basing our self-worth on others' opinions is a recipe for constant angst and dissatisfaction. Overcoming this tendency is extremely challenging due to how deeply social approval is ingrained in most of us.
How Can We Make Life Easier?
Given all of these inherent challenges and difficulties of being human, how can we make life even a little bit easier? Here are some ideas:
Practice regular self-care to lower stress and increase resilience. Make time for things like exercise, nature, recreation, relaxation, and social connection. Carve out daily time for yourself.
Address negative thought patterns through journaling, therapy, or meditation. Don't allow rumination and unhelpful thinking cycles to become habitual.
Build your support network so you don't have to face difficulties alone. Prioritize relationships and seek help when needed.
Find small ways to simplify your life and reduce unnecessary obligations, clutter, noise, and busyness. Eliminate nonessentials.
Set realistic expectations for yourself and your life. Perfectionism and rigid expectations inevitably lead to disappointment. Strive for progress rather than perfection.
Practice gratitude and presence to appreciate the positives when life feels hard. Notice small joys and the present moment.
Take care of your physical health, as it significantly impacts mental health and resilience when facing life's curveballs. Eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep.
Make time for meaningful hobbies that fulfill you, stimulate you, or bring you joy and relaxation. Carve out time for these soul-enriching activities.
Find ways to help and serve others. Helping people in need provides perspective and enhances wellbeing and purpose.
Seek professional counseling if you struggle with mental health issues, unresolved trauma, excessive rumination, or persistent life dissatisfaction. Guidance can help.
The Most Common Challenges People Face
Now that we've explored why life is so inherently difficult, what are the most common specific challenges people tend to face in life? Here are some of the top ones:
Our physical and mental health inevitably takes some hits throughout life. Illnesses, injuries, chronic conditions, pain, reproductive issues, weight problems, disabilities, addiction, and mental health struggles can all strike at any time. Coping through health crises and medical treatment takes an enormous toll. Even smaller ongoing health problems like insomnia or digestive issues can impact quality of life. Taking care of our fluctuating health is a lifelong challenge.
Money issues like job loss, debt, the cost of living, educational expenses, medical bills, insufficient income, and unexpected costs stress most people out at some point. Financial struggles strain relationships, create anxiety, and have a domino effect on other areas of life. Digging out of debt, saving for goals, and finding decent work are common financial challenges for many.
Relationships with spouses, parents, children, siblings, and friends can bring immense joy but also cause deep pain. Communication issues, neglect, differing values, toxic behaviors, infidelity, and abuse can strain even the closest relationships. Mending broken relationships and forging healthy connections requires vulnerability, compromise, and constant effort.
Long hours, heavy workloads, bad bosses, coworker conflicts, job insecurity, lack of appreciation, corporate bureaucracy, and work-life balance challenges plague many workers. Job dissatisfaction and an unclear career path are also common workplace struggles. Navigating office politics and corporate ladders while maintaining sanity is no easy task.
Dealing with Failure
We all fail, make mistakes, and fall short of goals at times. Rebounding after perceived failure is one of life's major hurdles. Self-judgment, embarrassment, loss of money, wasted efforts, and shame can make failure feel catastrophic. However, learning lessons and moving on is the only constructive option. This is much easier said than done.
A sense of emptiness, lack of passion, boredom, stagnation, or meaninglessness in life afflicts even the most "successful" among us at times. Figuring out our purpose, finding fulfilling work, and leading an engaged, inspired life is extremely challenging for most. Chasing fulfillment often becomes a lifelong quest.
The constantly shifting job market, economic instability, technological changes, pressure to continuously upskill, decision paralysis, and the blurring of work-life balance all contribute to career-related anxiety. Many feel stuck in dead-end jobs, overworked, undervalued, and uncertain of the path forward professionally. Navigating career changes or advancement is demanding.
Dealing with discrimination, sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, bullying, abuse, microaggressions, gaslighting, or other forms of mistreatment takes an enormous toll mentally and emotionally. The sense of powerlessness and anger in response to unfair treatment leads to discouragement and exhaustion. Speaking up also often comes with negative consequences.
Caring for children, spouses, elderly parents, sick family members, pets, homes, and cars while juggling careers and other obligations leaves many people depleted. The sheer volume of domestic responsibilities that modern life requires feels neverending. Doing it all without sufficient support networks is a huge challenge.
Pollution, noise, overcrowding, traffic, crime, lack of nature, and other environmental factors also drain mental resources and wellbeing. The impacts of living in toxic environments are often underestimated and unavoidable.
Life is inherently filled with challenges, obstacles, stressors, demands, and difficulties. The human experience guarantees tough times for us all. However, with self-awareness, self-care, social support, and the right perspective strategies, we can face life's curveballs with a bit more ease, wisdom, and acceptance.
What life challenges resonate with you most right now? How do you try to cope with life's difficulties and stresses? Share your thoughts and advice in the comments!