Navigating Life’s Challenges: Understanding Artificial Difficulty

We must accept the limits of time, growing older, and the inevitability of death. We must endure poor policies drafted by corrupt politicians and rubberstamped by idiot voters. And we have to pay our bills and interact with large, unfeeling corporations.

Life is inherently challenging, and our personal decisions can mitigate or worsen this reality. If we make foolish decisions, we will create more problems, and such issues lead to artificial difficulty.

I define artificial difficulty as self-created issues that are avoidable through prudence and the active execution of wise decisions. When we fail to be wise, pain and misery follow. A good example is ignoring your car when it starts making a sound. If you take the car to the mechanic immediately, you resolve the issue even if it costs money. But if you let the problem persist, it will worsen, and you will have to pay more money in the long run.

Today, I want to explore artificial difficulty. I discuss how people cannot evade some of life’s challenges. Then, I explore the best ways to avoid foolishness. I conclude by stating the importance of being wise, thorough, and focused.

Table of Content

  • The Reality of Inevitable vs. Self-Created Challenges
  • Practical Strategies to Sidestep Unnecessary Hardships
    • Mastering Your Duties with a Strategic Responsibility List
    • Motivating Change: The Power of a Reward System
    • Emotional Mastery: Techniques for Better Regulation
  • Embrace Wisdom: The Path to Overcoming Artificial Difficulties
  • Actionables

The Reality of Inevitable vs. Self-Created Challenges

“The merit of all things lies in their difficulty.” – Alexandre Dumas

You will grow old, and you will die. You will have to deal with rude, miserable, and predatorial individuals. You must worry about the government taking your resources or debasing your currency. You cannot control these things; ignoring them will not cause them to disappear.

Weak individuals’ philosophies do not prepare us for these realities. Instead, they give us comfort and moral justification for our weaknesses. For example, the weak individual ignores the reality of death by buying cheap products, consuming porn, and pursuing interpersonal drama. However, they will age at the same rate as everyone else, and their “fun” will end while their dreams remain unfulfilled.

When we avoid making wise and forward-thinking decisions, we add trouble to our lives. For example, we should stop overeating junk food because increased weight and health issues will sap us of energy today and resources in the future. Conversely, if we control overeating today, we will feel more energized. Additionally, we won’t have to dread doctor’s visits or worry about hefty health concerns in the future. We save ourselves, stress, money, and time by simply being responsible in the here and now.

Our laziness and inactions artificially create problems. However, when we address these issues when they arise or plan for them in the future, we can significantly reduce the difficulties we create for ourselves.

Practical Strategies to Sidestep Unnecessary Hardships

overcome challenges | possible written on a chalk board

Your life will be a series of struggles. Do everything you can to avoid artificial challenges.

Proactive problem-solving is not just about avoiding unnecessary hurdles; it’s about embracing responsibility management to ensure a balanced and fulfilling life.

I aim to help you see the value in planning and active problem-solving. As humans, we wish to pursue what is comfortable. But such an obsession rarely helps us. You must push back against society’s programming and your innate human weaknesses.

When you use the techniques below, you ensure you won’t avoid what is essential.

The three techniques are:

Mastering Your Duties with a Strategic Responsibility List

We all have duties. These obligations include our jobs, health, family, friends, etc. People depend on us, work needs doing, and specific concerns keep us alive or out of jail. When we start by meeting these responsibilities, we greatly diminish our future struggles.

Keeping track of these responsibilities gives us a greater understanding of what we must do. For example, I need to pay for my water. If I fail to pay on time, I create an artificial difficulty. The utilities will turn my water off, and I won’t have those resources available. By not caring for this responsibility, I will waste time, energy, and money to have someone turn my water on.

First, create a list of responsibilities by taking stock of who depends on you, what your job entails, and what you need to do to stay healthy. Outline the time involved and the resources needed.

Next, outline common problems you have experienced. Then, outline issues you could experience.

From there, seek to understand what each of these responsibilities needs from you. Set a timetable for when you need to check in and how you can stay on top of everything. For example, create a financial category in your responsibility list if you struggle to track your bills. You’ll add each bill and set reminders a week in advance. You can be proactive in paying your debts; aggressiveness will lower your stress and increase your confidence.

Through this investigation, you will develop a robust way of responding to challenges as they arise.

Motivating Change: The Power of a Reward System

“A man of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realize his potentialities.” – Charles de Gaulle

Sometimes, we create issues for ourselves by refusing to deal with unexpected challenges. Such avoidance is not particularly helpful or productive.

For example, your car might start making a weird noise. This random issue has arisen, and it is not your fault; you cannot prevent it. The wise thing to do is to take the car to the shop. The unwise decision is to avoid taking the car in, increasing the likelihood of more issues in the future.

Thus, bribery is in order. Not every responsibility you have falls into a neat pile. Some things arrive, and if you address them as soon as possible, you can avoid a headache.

To summon the courage to address the issue, bribe yourself. Take the car in, fix it, pay the money, and buy yourself a candy bar. If you are proactive when issues arise, then reward your bravery.

Setting up a reward system requires you to outline what you like to do. Outline your pleasures, then map them to trivial, easy, medium, and hard. As you look at challenges that randomly appear, determine the difficulty in dealing with such challenges. Ensure the difficulty matches the reward. I promise you this will train your mind to be proactive in all obstacles.

Emotional Mastery: Techniques for Better Regulation

emotion | emotional eggs in a carton

Your emotions are your greatest enemy. With enough control, your emotions become your best tool.

Self-created problems arise because we don’t have the mental strength to tackle them. Most of our mental prowess is wasted at the feet of emotional highs. When we refuse to better regulate our feelings, we fall prey to the challenges around us.

Emotional self-regulation or emotion regulation is “the ability to respond to the ongoing demands of experience with the range of emotions in a manner that is socially tolerable and sufficiently flexible to permit spontaneous reactions as well as the ability to delay spontaneous reactions as needed.”

Firstly, emotional highs mess with our minds, making it tough to respond proactively to particular struggles. For example, if I’m always high-strung, I avoid going to the mechanic when my car breaks down. I don’t want more stress, so I put off fixing the issue until “tomorrow” or “next week.”

Secondly, emotional dysregulation means I may aggressively respond to a minor situation. For example, I may yell at my kids when I’m frustrated. This bad action creates an emotional barrier between my children and me, which takes time to heal and repair. That repairing requires energy and effort from me. And such repairing comes from my failure to regulate my anger.

The easiest way to regulate your emotions is to reduce emotional highs in your life: stop consuming mass media, ignore weak individuals, and avoid drama. When we are more stabilized with our emotions, we can better control ourselves in the heat of the moment and efficiently process our frustrations or fears.

Embrace Wisdom: The Path to Overcoming Artificial Difficulties

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” – Newt Gingrich

Life is hard. Why should we fight tooth and nail to make it harder?

Laziness, comfort, and avoidance will not save you from life’s difficulties. When you do little to prevent your failings, you create more problems for yourself. Artificial difficulties rob you of time, energy, and effort. And for what? A small moment of weakness and pleasure?

Therefore, regulate yourself. Be proactive in avoiding issues while also rewarding your quick thinking. Keep your emotions under control. Thrive.

We can’t control every aspect of life, but much is under our control. Keep at it, get after it, and Become an Individual.

Actionables

  1. Current Struggles: What are some current issues you are dealing with? Which ones are caused by your foolishness? What can you do in the future to prevent yourself from falling down a predictable path?
  2. Future Problems: What issues, both personally and societally, do you see arising in the future? Do they create fear or anxiety? What can you do to prepare for these future problems?
  3. Past Successes: When have you succeeded in preparing for a bad situation? What was that like? How could you prepare, and what pushed you to get ahead of the situation? Reflect on these past successes as proof that getting ahead of issues is ideal for dealing with struggles.
  4. Understand Your Challenges: Reflect on your current struggles to identify which are truly inevitable and which result from overcoming self-inflicted problems, then use these insights to guide your future behavior change strategies.
  5. Digital or Physical: Decide whether you prefer a digital tool (such as a task management app) or a physical notebook for your responsibility list. Each has its benefits: digital tools can send reminders, while physical notebooks can be satisfying to use and visually remind you of your tasks.
  6. Categorization: Break your responsibilities into categories such as personal, work, health, and family. This can help you see at a glance what areas of your life need attention.
    1. Prioritization: Within each category, prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. Consider using a labeling or color-coding system to highlight priorities.
    2. Review and Update: Set a regular time each week to review and update your list. This can be a moment to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what needs to be adjusted.
  7. Mindfulness Practices: Incorporate mindfulness exercises into your daily routine to enhance emotional awareness and regulation. This could be a few minutes of meditation, journaling, or deep breathing exercises.
  8. Identify Triggers: Keep a journal to note when you feel emotionally overwhelmed and identify patterns or triggers. Understanding these can help you prepare or avoid certain triggers.
  9. Response Plan: Develop a plan for when you encounter emotional highs. This could involve a series of steps like stepping away from the situation, using a breathing technique, or reaching out to a friend for support.

Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.

*Image credit to Unsplash.