The Spiritual Path Isn’t Easy, But Here’s Why It’s Worth It

When one embarks on a spiritual path, it’s natural to believe that life is about to get really good. Spirituality means everything falls into place, right? Well… not exactly.

Yes, things will change for the better.

You can expect to feel happier, more fulfilled, and more connected to others. But life (and all the struggles and challenges in it) aren’t going to magically disappear. In fact, they may get worse.

Why?

Because it’s the hardest struggles that wake us up to our greatest strengths.

The strength you wouldn’t see in yourself if you hadn’t been forced to do so.

Many successful people will talk about the gratitude they feel for their greatest struggles. In hindsight, they know that if it hadn’t been for these struggles they wouldn’t have found a deep strength within.

Hardship is often a key component to great success.

I don’t think it works this way because God has a sick sense of humor. The Spirit of the Universe isn’t cruel or mean or demented. I actually think it’s all part of the divine plan of evolution.

We are here to grow.

Some of the greatest minds in psychological theory have talked a lot about this drive towards growth.

The heart-centered Humanist, Carl Rogers, believed that we are innately programed to self-actualize (that is, to heal and evolve). The Transpersonal theorist, Carl Jung, believed that we are driven to wholeness through the integration of the ego and Self.

Whether you associate this process as spiritual or not doesn’t really matter. What does matter, though, is that you relate to an inherent, internal drive to grow and change. It’s an unspoken desire inside us all.

As I personally walk the path of trying-to-be-conscious-and-loving, I have to be honest, my experience has shown me that the tests get harder and harder. This wasn’t what I expected when I signed up for expanding my consciousness.

I still get caught in the false belief that everything is supposed to be awesome all the time, and if it’s not, it means I’m doing something wrong. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Sometimes when struggles present themselves to me, I find myself saying, “Why me?!” I often doubt that I’m up for the challenge.

And then, after a fair amount of resistance, I eventually come around and recommit to the path of love. And you know what happens next… every single time?

I rise.

That’s right. My biggest setbacks, my hardest struggles, the times when I really didn’t think I had it in me, are the exact experiences that force me to be greater than I’ve ever been before.

I find a strength so powerful (all within myself) that allows me overcome whatever challenge I’m up against. I discover on an even a deeper level who I am and what I am here to do. And I feel grateful for the very thing I once cursed.

If it weren’t for the challenges, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow into the best version of myself.

So if you identify with being on a spiritual path and challenges are arising, please do not blame yourself or think that you’re doing something wrong.

Challenges serve you to grow into the best version of you that’s humanly (and, in some cases, not-so-humanly) possible. It’s all part of the master plan.

Rise to the occasion. Show us what you’ve got. Trust me, you’ve got what it takes. 

Please leave a comment below telling us how struggles are leading you to become the greatest version of yourself. I look forward to hearing from you.

Comments

Dr Vidya

Totally agree 100%!! U said it! Dat’s my experience too For me it’s been d difficult people in my life ….. Initially I used to get upset disturbed drpressed n ask God”why me??” But now looking back I rejoice in d fact dat I survived thru it all n today I m a more refined compassionate person much much stronger dan before n my friends now say esp whn dey see my pic in deir
mobiles “…. a beautiful woman with a
gorgeous attitude n an iron will !” Thanx.

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Mar

Hi Shelly,
Constantly working toward becoming the best version of myself possible, You have always written the perfect thing for me at the perfect time. I am currently struggling in the world of online dating. I live on an island with a small population & not too many single guys my age. I have been hurt pretty badly in this process, but I try to approach it with open heart and open eyes.
My biggest struggle is reminding myself that I am still ME if a relationship doesn’t work out, I was me before and I am me after a crash and burn relationship. In fact, today I am rising to the challenge that I received this past weekend. But I got up, got ready for the day and I am going to shine. P.S. Where are all of these great single guys you know? I am thinking that I live in the wrong place ;)

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Shelly Bullard

Hi Mar, well, the guys seem to be just showing up in my world (through different routes). I live in San Francisco, but not all the men I have met live here. I guess what’s important is for you to be living your life in a way that feels authentic and good to you, and for you to trust that men will come in. People have a lot of mixed feelings about this approach, but experience has shown me that faith will take one really, really far. Best of luck to you.

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Linda a

This comes on a day I needed the reminder to accept and face continued challenges. I could so relate to everything you said. I was on what I thought to be a good place. I ended a bad relationship several months ago and felt I was taking time to grieve and find myself again. I felt at peace and happy. Then a long time acquaintance approached me and I allowed him in. Disappointing as I think he only wanted one thing. I thought to myself, seriously? I will take this as a lesson learned and continue to grow and love myself for who I am. I do have to wonder if there are any good men left? Keeping my chin up and believing the right person will show up at the right time.

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Shelly Bullard

There are good men, for sure. And the men who come in are teaching you about you. There is always a lesson to learn with every person who shows up.

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Sam

Hi Shelly, I loved this article. Like someone else was commenting, it came at just the right time. It’s so weird because I only realized how bad things were getting with my partner of seven years indirectly from someone else – a complete stranger. There wasn’t anything romantic at all between us, but things he said immediately lined up with the issues that were present in my current relationship. It’s been about 3 months since I’ve last seen this person (the stranger) but my whole life and spiritual journey has started because of him. It’s been very challenging because I’ve had to really think hard about continuing this relationship and everything else we’ve started together. But I’ve risen up to the resistance (slowly) and it’s been scary that’s for sure. I’ll keep going because like you say it is necessary to evolve to the best version of myself. Thanks again I really appreciate this.

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Kristin

What a great article and the topic couldn’t be more true! I have been on some kind of spiritual path my whole life. Only I didn’t really become conscious until I chose to heal and leave the abusive marriage I had spent 20 years in. That’s when the real heartache and pain kicked in. As hard as the years of marriage were, facing myself and what I did to allow myself to go through that time was the hardest piece but yet the most liberating! I am so grateful today for the experiences I’ve had in my life that have made me stronger. I wouldn’t want to change a thing. I am the person I am because of it.

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Regina

I’ve been working at becoming more assertive for 2 years now. My boss is very domineering and a bully. She has been ‘working’ on me all year, doesn’t want me in the workplace. She bullied me once too often and I just caved. I feel such disappointment in myself and frustration that she has gotten the better of me AGAIN. I tried so hard and I feel I failed. It’s a terrible feeling.

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Michelle

Wow! Wonderful article this speaks volumes to me and helps me understand a little better what has been happening in my life and how to look at things with light and a different perspective. I will use these challenges to try and make myself the best possible version of me! Thank you…

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Nyla

Hi Shelly ~ Your piece is beautiful and the timing was perfect. I’ve encountered two failed relationships in the last 5 years, healing from the most recent 2-1/2 year relationship and have experienced and witnessed the spiritual path necessary for, not only healing broken hearts, but for everyday living. My spiritual journey has included prayer, meditation, yoga, and therapy sessions. My body, my mind, and my thinking “shifted” to consciousness of “being” in my life – loving Nyla…forgiving Nyla, no matter how difficult. This last relationship has taken a huge toll on me mentally and emotionally but, I’ve returned to the sacred path of oneness and being in the now, as I work to let go of the past and not look forward to the future. Maybe one day God will bless me with a man for us to join as one. The spirit is showing me — don’t settle for any man “just” to be in a relationship. Love yourself first. I’m so grateful for my continuing spiritual journey; it shows me the way as I “center” my being, allows me to grieve, and allows me to LOVE ME as I continue through the journey of Life. ~Namaste

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Jenn

Hi, Shelly: this is the first time I have left a note on your blog. I really liked the line in one of your responses above…”There is always a lesson to learn with every person who shows up.” I agree with you, even when it’s good, bad or indifferent. What doesn’t break us makes us stronger, right? And I have found in my nearly 49 years that for every challenge, there is a new opportunity. Peace.

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Stacie

I just found your website and read this… I couldn’t have found it at a better time. I am struggling with a recent break up. A man I thought would be there for me forever proved that he wasn’t. I’ve known all the things you said in this posting, but the way you articulated it really resonates with me. I gave everything to him and held nothing back, which was my lesson learned from another horrible break up. I learned to love, but I got burned this time. That just means that there’s another lesson in this for me to take into my next relationship. Thanks for posting.

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Orna

I find myself to being emotionally weak. I hope your inspiration will help me. I need to learn to be happy.

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Shelly Bullard

I don’t know what emotionally weak is, but yes, you do need to learn to be happy.

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Archana Ray

I lost my husband on 23rd Feb 2012. 38 years of relationship a very close knit relationship.
I was completely broken. I began to consider myself unlucky for the family. In 2014 I subscribed with Mind Body Green and Pamela Miles’ Reiki. I practice self- Reiki, Yoga and Meditation. Then I came across your articles. I am a bereaved woman but your pieces of advice are so clear and practical that by following them I feel myself transformed. I have started loving myself. I have come to know that Beauty is within myself, the potential strength is there. It is manifest in me. I have only to rise and face the situation. Thank you so much. Love you .

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Kim

So true! And after 20++ years of dedicated spiritual path I STILL forget it and ask where my prize is! It is so tempting to believe that there will come a time when all negative karma will be purified and things will be happy ever after. Will let you know when that happens…

I read a great book that shifted my perspective on this recently: Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian Weiss…gave me some profound insights.

thanks for all you do Shelly!

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Mike

Your article sounds great- and is certainly applicable to many struggles that are far too common (abusive relationships, drugs or alcohol, job loss…). I haven’t yet had to confront a challenge that has caused me to question whether or not I was up to the task, but I would love to figure out how to be grateful for the challenge of caring for my wife through 5-plus years of cancer. Not to mention the challenge of having to explain to my 9 and 12 year old daughters what hospice is and why I’m not trying to make Mom better any more. It’s been 4 years and I still have days when I am just angry.

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Shelly Bullard

Thank you for sharing, Mike. Sending well wishes to you and your family.

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Nadia Davidson

Thank you for the encouraging words. Job hunting (and love hunting) at this time of year can be depressing. Now I know that I will come out the end of this time and feel stronger for it. Cheers!

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Annette Vaillancourt, Ph.D.

Hi Shelly,
I have been following your blog because we write about the same subject, relationship as a spiritual path. In this post, you articulate so well what most people do NOT want to hear…that there are struggles along the way…for the purpose of growth. It truly is a hero’s journey to manifest a SoulMate.

The reason I am commenting today is that your post is especially poignant in the light of my latest challenge. Seven weeks ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lung Cancer. Everybody says I’m strong, but I do wonder almost every other day where I’ll find the strength to do what I have to do.

I was supposed to be launching my blog and online courses to help people overcome their internal barriers to manifesting a soulmate, but God had other plans. This is the biggest physical, emotional and spiritual challenge I’ve had to face. I believe as you say here: “Challenges serve you to grow into the best version of you that’s humanly (and, in some cases, not-so-humanly) possible. It’s all part of the master plan.”

I often say to clients, “the mountain is as high as the valley is low,” so I must be in for a big mountain soon!

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Shelly Bullard

Beautiful Annette. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you well on your human & not-so-human path. <3

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