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Inspirational Quotes About Struggles and Hardship

Updated on August 19, 2018
Natalie Frank profile image

Natalie Frank, a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, is the Managing Editor for Novellas & Serials at LVP Publishers. She also publishes fiction.

It is no secret that life is often filled with struggles and hardship. No one is a stranger to the stress that exists in the world and the struggle to try to overcome whatever it is that is holding them back. At times we need to accept a stressful condition we have no control over while other times we may need to figure out how to solve or change a problematic situation. Take for example Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison but then went on to become the first democratically elected president of South Africa. Abraham Lincoln’s business failed, suffered from depression his entire life and lost the election eight times before becoming the 16th president of the U.S.

For some individuals finding a way to cope with and ultimately best the troubles that may at first seem insurmountable may be easier than for others. This depends on a number of different factors both within and external to the individual. Yet there are ways each of us can use inspiration as a source of strength to better handle whatever negative circumstances life throws at us. Sometimes we may not be able to actually solve a problem and must find a way to tolerate it instead. Other times we may feel that we have tried everything and can’t identify a solution to a problem giving up when we need to try one more time.

While these Quotes may not be able to actually fix the problems and adversity we are all encounter day to day, they may help in providing a source of inspiration and motivation to help us determine what strategies to use to successfully cope with or move past our problems. Life is tough and we all have our own challenges to face. Yet finding simple ways to improve our mood and establish a more positive outlook regarding the future can take enough of the edge off the stress we are experiencing to allow us to see a way to change our lives that we haven’t considered before.

Frederick Douglass spoke this quote 1857 while delivering a “West India Emancipation” speech at Canandaigua, New York, on the twenty-third anniversary of the event. He intended it to remind his audience of the critical role that the West Indian slaves played in their own emancipation. In hindsight it also seems to be a premonition of the U.S. civil war which would erupt four years later. This quote also can be applied to the smaller difficulties we have in life, however.

While we may face some terribly difficult or even traumatic obstacles in life we have to at least try to fight our way past them when we have a way to do so. Douglas was quite stern about this idea believing that someone who doesn’t fight for themselves and their life is not worth being fought for by others. That’s not to say we shouldn’t look for help from others or help others when they are in need. But if someone doesn’t value overcoming whatever it is that is keeping them down, they won’t do what it takes to enact a solution that they are given or maintain it after the fact, falling back into whatever trouble they had been in before. Likewise we shouldn’t go out of our way to try to solve a problem for someone else who lays it in our lap refusing to take part in fixing it.

Douglas believed that someone like this can’t see their own contribution to their troubles and is indifferent to their responsibility to at least contribute to to the solution. He goes on to say that if someone doesn’t value making the effort to change something in their life that is going wrong, they will never value helping others when the need arises.

The world can’t survive if no one will either help themselves or help others or if people insist on sitting back and letting others solve their problems for them without participating. This mentality leads to resignation and acceptance of a less than ideal set of circumstances and a self focus that prohibits cooperation and advancement of those things that will ensure constant improvement of our individual and collective lives.

For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others. Such a man, the world says, may lie down until he has sense enough to stand up. It is useless and cruel to put a man on his legs, if the next moment his head is to be brought against a curbstone. Before we can expect anyone else to help us, we have to first take action on our own behalf. Once we are fully invested in overcoming our problem and are willing to struggle in that pursuit, then we can benefit from others assistance so long as we continue to lead to effort.

Anyone who is handed everything day in and day out, can command others to do whatever they want, never has to worry about money or companionship, who has never known an instance of worry over anything, becomes someone whose human characteristics have become muted. In particular, they will become vain, egotistical, haughty, and feel they are placed above those around them. Ultimately they will lose touch with the world and those who reside in it. Then they will be bound to know what suffering is but not have the internal resources to draw upon not the needed connections to others to help ease their pain.

Each time we struggle with something and either learn we can find a way to cope with it or a way to combat it we learn that we can manage our world. It is largely that which provides us with the foundation for the person we become and the ability to safely and confidently build the life we want.

We all know there will be good times and bad. With the proper mindset, even when there are challenges we can learn to be happy. Many of us put our lives on hold when things aren’t going well. We may say that once things get better we’ll start really living again. If we wait for the perfect moment as if we can’t expect to enjoy life when there are problems we will always be focusing on the bad times unable to recognize that there is good in everything.

When we can reverse this tendency and try to find at least a small bit of good in even the most trying of circumstances, then we train ourselves to always look for the positive which will allow us to feel some degree of happiness no matter what. That’s not to say that we should never expect to feel sad or to grieve or feel nervous about anything. But when we search for the positive aspects within challenging situations we can come to realize that even a small amount of light can displace a large amount of darkness.

It is no secret that Coretta Scott King had a great deal to do with the civil rights movement led by her husband and continued to advance his legacy even after his death. She frequently spoke about struggle and how it was only through that struggle that change could have come about.

In her view it was the difficulties she and her husband was forced to weather that forged her into someone with the strength to not just withstand the devastating events but to persevere and move forward. During the 1956 Montgomery bus boycott, she stated, “During the bus boycott I was tested by fire and I came to understand that I was not a breakable crystal figurine.” It was her commitment to what she saw as her life’s purpose that ultimately gave her the ability and the faith to always forge ahead even in the face of her husband’s death.

Being able to define something in our life that gives it meaning and that goes beyond ourselves provides us with the motivation and energy to continue striving for something we see as important. When it seems to be on a scale that is greater than us in some way, perhaps raising a child or helping establish something that is needed in our community for example, it gives our life direction and makes us see we are here for a reason.

A purpose though, doesn’t have to be defined on such a grand scale. It can be something relatively small. Even if our purpose only affects a single individual, those that individual goes on to affect and those they in turn affect are also all part of our own legacy.

This quote is a favorite of mine because of reminds us that we are not alone in this effort to overcome obstacles we encounter in our lives. For me, the quote points out that just as we are struggling with difficulties we have to find a way to manage, so are many others in our life. Each of us finds different ways to handle adversity and sometimes our attempts are successful and other times perhaps less so.

Yet we can look at each person around us and remember times they went through that were hard but which they fought against and won, coming out the other side stronger and a little bit changed. The more we have known hardship yet found a way to cope with it or to defeat it, while seeing the role these troubles have played in shaping us, the more we can face difficulty with grace and dignity. This also will affect us even when not facing a problem when everything is going well in our life.

Those who have the most hardship often are those who interact with others in the most supportive, positive and inspiring ways. They are the ones who realize what is important in life and very often the ways to attain it. Very often they are also the ones who are most generous with help, advice, resources and solutions that may enable us to see things differently so we can get through a problem of our own. Those who have gone through their own difficulties can serve as role models and examples for us. They can help us learn how to better handle those things that cause us to suffer or make us feel as if we just can’t handle another trauma.

© 2018 Natalie Frank


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    • Natalie Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Natalie Frank 

      10 months ago from Chicago, IL

      Hi Tamara. Thanks for the follow on Pinterest. I'll be sure to look you!

    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      Yancosky - Jankowska 

      10 months ago from Uninhabited Regions

      We all need such inspirational quotes. Thank you!

      I just Followed you on Pinterest! My Pinterest name is “Authenticity”.



    • Natalie Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Natalie Frank 

      11 months ago from Chicago, IL

      I'm not sure if bad times are a requirement but it certainly allows you to see the good times in a much different light as well as support others in the ways they need through being able to related to them. Thanks for the comment, Liz.

    • Natalie Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Natalie Frank 

      11 months ago from Chicago, IL

      I'm sure it was, Liz. Mandela was an amazing man and his ability to withstand so many years in prison to emerge and become the leader of the country was truly inspiring.

    • Natalie Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Natalie Frank 

      11 months ago from Chicago, IL

      I'm glad you enjoyed them. Heidi. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      11 months ago from UK

      Some very inspiring quotes here. I especially agree with your comment that those who have known hardship are good at supporting others. It takes a very special person who is able to do this without having experienced bad times themselves.

    • Natalie Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Natalie Frank 

      11 months ago from Chicago, IL

      A good motto to go by, Bill. Your dad was a very wise man.

    • Natalie Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Natalie Frank 

      11 months ago from Chicago, IL

      I agree Flourish. Often times people look down on others who have suffered as if they did something to deserve it. Instead, if we look to them as examples of how to persevere we can often times learn how to cope better in our own lives.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      11 months ago from UK

      This is an interesting selection of inspirational quotes. I recently visited an exhibition to mark Nelson Mandela's centenary. It was really inspiring.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      11 months ago from Chicago Area

      More beautiful quotes! Thanks for sharing!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      11 months ago from The Caribbean

      The quotes are all great, as are your comments. Pope Paul VI's is most appealing to me. Thanks.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I grew up with my dad's words a constant companion.....always move forward, no matter the obstacle....I've tried to live those words.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      11 months ago from USA

      E. Kubler-Ross’ quote has to be one of my favorites. Suffering is what binds us to one another. Those who have struggled and triumphed can be our role models, showing us what is possible with hope and perseverance.


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