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Taking Inspiration From Your Past Struggles To Create Personal Staying Power

Written by: Vince Morales, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


What does it mean to take inspiration from past struggles?

Think about your past struggles. Perhaps you dealt with something emotionally challenging, like losing a close friend or family member. Maybe you experienced a personal or professional struggle and had to grapple with problems at work. Sometimes, your familial struggles, such as strife or disagreement between family members.

Struggles are numerous and can be experienced in every area of life, and some struggles are much bigger and more challenging to overcome than others. Regardless of your struggles or how challenging they were, they serve a significant purpose in your life, and they have the power to inspire if you allow it.

You can allow your past struggles to inspire you into a much better and brighter future. You can use struggles this way because they often serve as essential teachers: Even the grimmest and most challenging struggles teach you some valuable wisdom as you experience them.

When you let your past struggles inspire you, you use that knowledge to make more informed decisions in the future and inspire you to grow and develop staying power. Because you have experienced your unique set of struggles firsthand, you likely learned some wisdom about those challenges, including how to handle (and even avoid) them in the future.

Although you did have to handle those past struggles, your suffering was not in vain – that knowledge you gained is yours to keep and use as you move forward into a better future.

What is “staying power?” Merriam-Webster defines it as the capacity to continue in existence or influence without weakening. The strength to last or endure. When it comes to your past struggles, you embrace them as gold treasure in your story. People become inspired that your story and you find it much easier to strip away the shame that has a tendency you blanket those past struggles. The battle you experienced in overcoming your past struggle becomes a reminder that struggles can truly empower you, and others, and you refuse to lay down defeated. You accept loss as a step to your continued success. Enduring beyond struggles simply becomes a part of your DNA so-to-speak. It becomes a new mindset.

What are the benefits of overcoming and making peace with your past struggles, so they inspire and create staying power?

Before letting your past struggles inspire you, you must learn to make peace with your past struggles. When you feel at ease and have accepted your past struggles, you no longer ruminate over what went wrong or fret about the past. Instead, you let that knowledge you learned guide you into the future. Let the story of your struggles become a treasure in your life. It is your story. You are not defined by your struggle but by what you did with it. You are defined by how you take your story and inspire others with it. All struggles offer an extraordinary opportunity to inspire someone, and its gift is personal staying power.

A personal past struggle

On April 3, 2016, my wife and I became homeless. I became what I never thought would ever happen: I was now a homeless veteran. The first five months were overwhelmingly difficult. We undertook a survival mindset shift. A mindset that is just about survival is an interesting one. A mindset for your next meal, for your safety, a mindset about personal hygiene, including how clean you keep your vehicle, which doubles as your home. It took an unfamiliar perspective to accept that a public restroom is now the place you bath. Four months into our homelessness, our van broke down. A local retailer allowed us to park our vehicle in their parking lot if it was parked towards the back. We were now without mobility, and the van was merely shelter. Something you do not think much about is how painful homelessness becomes physically. Sleeping every night in a seated position poses a significant health risk due to the risk of blood clots. My wife and I both were experiencing a degrading of the use of our legs.

Eventually, I believed I was coming apart emotionally and mentally. My family got together to discuss having me committed to a VA hospital. I was outraged and bitter that the local veterans' groups were not helping us much. Never mind that there were many other veterans in similar homeless situations and even worse conditions. But you do not think about that when it is you in that position, especially when you are already angry and bitter. By this time, I had no sense of identity. I was a marine, former police officer, businessperson, etc. Now, I was just another homeless veteran statistic. Shame was all I knew by this point. Why was this happening to me? Why me? No one was suffering like me. No-one understood my suffering, our suffering.

On August 16, 2016, I decided that our circumstances would no longer define me. I stopped blaming others for our circumstances and took personal responsibility. I stopped blaming the Marine Corps, the VA, local veterans’ organizations, family, and others. There was nothing more empowering that would impact our situation than taking personal responsibility. Only I, through personal responsibility, had the power to change my situation. I decided to impact and inspire people. I made a significant move to launch into life coaching. I became known to some of my clients as the homeless life coach. My wife and I started feeding other homeless people by sharing our lunch. We were homeless people providing food to homeless people. We did this because this is counter to the survival mindset. If we were going to thrive in our situation, we had to act and think like we were thriving. So, thriving over surviving became the driving mindset.

Our homelessness ended on June 24, 2017, and we moved into our current condominium in San Diego. Less than a year later, I became a coach, trainer, and speaker for the Maxwell Leadership Team and went back to school to earn a master’s degree from Penn State. My coaching business is still thriving. By the way, I am also a lead employment navigator on a military installation in Southern California, helping marines and sailors transition into the civilian workforce. I am also a doctoral student working on a Ph.D. in performance psychology. Not bad for having been homeless less than five years ago.

The point of sharing my story is I found a way to let my struggles no longer be shame or define me, but I discovered a way to let my past struggle inspire myself, my family, friends, and so many others, while we were still homeless. You can do this too. You have a story that has launching and staying power. You have a story we need to hear.

There was nothing more empowering that would impact our situation than taking personal responsibility. Only I, through personal responsibility, had the power to change my situation. I decided to impact and inspire people. I made a significant move to launch into life coaching. – Vince Morales

Learning how to make peace with those past struggles includes a variety of benefits:

1. You do not waste tons of time worrying about events that have already passed.

Making peace with your past struggles means you can pull away the valuable lessons learned from them and then leave them in the past. Instead of wasting precious current time worrying about old struggles, you can keep moving forward with your life.

2. You become a more knowledgeable person because of your past experiences.

Letting go of your past struggles involves getting to understand them well. After you have accepted your past struggles, pulled the valuable lessons away from them, and then let yourself move on from what happened, you take that information. Because you lived those struggles, you can move onward from them a little wiser.

3. You avoid a lot of excessive emotional anguish.

Overcoming your past struggles may require deep emotional work. However, doing that vital work now – and allowing yourself to process those challenging emotions as you are experiencing them during your struggle – means you will avoid a lot of lingering emotional strife afterward.

What happens if a person views their past struggles negatively?

Many people struggle to see their past struggles as anything but negative. It is understandable – nobody enjoys reflecting on a time when they messed up or experienced a serious hardship. However, maintaining this negative image of your past struggles can lead to significant issues.

1. You can develop low self-esteem.

Viewing your past struggles negatively leads to a lot of rumination about what you did wrong or could have done differently in the past. As you continue to see those past struggles negatively, it is easy to feel bad about yourself. As you focus on these struggles (and any mistakes you made during them), you lose focus of yourself in the present and develop lower self-esteem. Viewing past struggles through the lens of low self-esteem or self-image removes the staying power of the inspiration that comes with the story of your struggle.

2. You lose confidence in your ability to make good choices in the future.

When you view your past struggles negatively, you create an unhelpful image of yourself in your mind. By reflecting on all the negatives of your past struggles, it is easy to see yourself as someone who will always struggle and experience those same hardships the same way if they happen again.

3. You do not take away the one good thing from struggle: Knowledge.

If you continue to view your past struggles negatively, you will never get the one positive benefit from experiencing those struggles. The knowledge you learn from any struggle allows you to avoid those struggles (or at least handle them more efficiently) in the future. If you continue to view your past struggles negatively, you will likely have difficulty gleaning that valuable knowledge from experience.

How can you allow yourself to let your past struggles create inspiration and staying power?

Learning how to let your past struggles become inspiration can be a challenge. After getting over the initial hurdle of overcoming those struggles, learning how to take those experiences and use them in a productive, positive way takes some practice and patience to perfect.

Firstly, it is essential to give yourself permission to “let go.” Once you identify the key lessons learned from those experiences, it is time to let the actual struggle and difficulty disperse from your mind and body. Once the struggle ends and the lesson is learned, you can shed the weight of that worry and anxiety and allow yourself to move forward.

As you prepare to move forward, keep that knowledge you learned tucked away in your mind. You can find comfort in knowing that your experiences taught you valuable information you can use to build a better tomorrow for yourself.

Adopting an empowering mindset is vital for letting your past struggles become an inspiration for personal staying power. An empowering mindset should be future-focused. Keeping your perspective on all the good things to come (and the security of knowing that you have those lessons learned from your past struggles to serve as a guide) will help you maintain a positive pathway as you move forward.

For more info, follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and visit my website!

Read more from Vince!


Vince Morales, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Vince Morales is a mindset, self-image, and resilience coach. In addition, he is skilled in leadership consultation and development. From April 2016 to June 2017, Vince was a homeless veteran in San Diego, CA. While homeless he made a powerful decision to change his thinking and mindset launching into life coaching. He developed a niche for resilience and mindset coaching. The growth of his business ultimately led to the end of his homelessness. Vince is the Founder of Validus Coaching & Consulting, formerly Zoe Transformation. His story has been featured in online articles and online news outlets all over the U.S. He is a certified John Maxwell Team Coach, Trainer, & Speaker as well as a motivational speaker. In 2021, Vince earned his Master's degree in Psychology of Leadership from Penn State University and is currently a doctoral student pursuing a PhD in Performance Psychology. He is a 2020 inductee in The National Society of Leadership and Success.


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