Why is life so hard? The challenges of life and how to deal with them

Though life can be filled with meaning and joy, it can also feel unbearably hard and overwhelming at times. It’s important to set up resources and habits for yourself when life gets that way, but sometimes it’s difficult to know where to begin, or even to muster the energy to get out of bed. 

Everyone struggles with their mental health at times, often for reasons unique to their lives and situations. Life can make you scream, cry, or rage as much as it makes you laugh or smile. However, if you feel alone in your struggle, there are common themes and reasons that many people face that make life hard, so even if the individual struggles you face may feel singular and unrelatable, it’s likely that others feel the same way you do.

Can Life Be Hard Sometimes?

Absolutely, it can. Life is a broad term that can refer to the existence of a being, an experience, and a period of time. Because “life” is quite literally an all-encompassing term it can be many things from beautiful, kind, and logical to unpleasant, hard, and complex.

Life is full of inexplicable beauty and indescribably joy, but it also holds extremely difficult and emotionally draining things like grief, loss, rage, unfairness and inequality, hate, regret, sadness, misery, and so many more instances and feelings that make life hard to get through. Life is not always good, and sometimes the only way it can get better is by continuing to move forward.

Why Is Life Hitting Me So Hard?

Everyone has situations or feelings that we feel unequipped to handle, that touch our personal weaknesses, hit us harder than those around us, and feel impossible to deal with. Sadly, life will always have moments of hardship—sometimes more, but also sometimes less. 

Despite our best efforts, we’re continually vulnerable to the unpleasant hits that life subjects us to. So many factors of one’s existence are subject to civilization, cultural, and societal standards and consequences, which can all play a part in making life challenging as much as they make life liveable.

To understand why life is affecting you so intensely, it can be useful to look at common factors that tend to negatively impact one’s ability to function, both within themselves and within society. Some of those factors can include: 

  • Discrimination
  • Failing health
  • Ending of a relationship
  • Poverty
  • Loss of friends or family members
  • Loneliness
  • Lack of access to resources or support

Life has its difficult points, but it shouldn’t feel hard to live constantly. If life feels like too much to handle (and even if you hit mere rough patches from time to time), psychotherapy can be a good resource to help you manage. Therapists can give you support, advice, comfort, and a safe space to talk through what troubles you, while also helping you make a plan to tackle those issues.

Why Is Life So Difficult to Live? 

To be clear, life’s difficulties aren’t solely based on one’s expectations or belief structure. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) identified four main categories of factors that affect a person’s well-being: 

  • Individual: History of mental illness, serious illness, legal issues, occupational issues, substance use problems, history of adverse childhood experiences
  • Relationship: Bullying, loss of relationship, social isolation
  • Community: Discrimination, historical trauma, stress of acculturation, lack of access to healthcare
  • Societal: Stigma associated with mental illness, easy access to lethal means, and unsafe media portrayals  

There are many other factors that can make life difficult, and without proper support and community, they can be even harder to deal with.

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What Is the Hardest Time in Life?

Everyone’s lives are different, which means that each person will go through their most difficult season at different times. However, the hardest time in someone’s life could also be considered the peak of a negative experience in one’s life. 

For most people, this might include experiencing the dissolution of relationships (friendships, romantic relationships, death), unexpected loss of income, failing health and/or a natural disaster.

Does Life Get Harder as You Age?

As you age and time passes, the likelihood of encountering more challenging experiences increases. However, age also provides the opportunity to learn to make better decisions, release negative emotions, compile wisdom, and build greater self-awareness and self-confidence.

This means that, though aging provides more time and chances for you to experience challenges, it also gives you the time to learn skills that will help you get through those difficult moments.

What Year Was the Hardest to Live?

This question could elicit 100 different answers from 100 people, and all could be correct. From a mental health perspective, the year or age at which something happens isn’t as important as who you were and what you were going through at that time—its impact is much more individualized and person-centered.

What Is Considered the Hardest Thing to Face in Life?

There are many hard things one may have to face and process in life, most notably the ones that are irreversible, such as the passing of a loved one like a child, life partner, or parent, or facing one’s own mortality.

Oftentimes, what distinguishes difficult times from the “hardest thing” to face in life is how the event impacts the individual, affecting aspects like one’s self concept (self-esteem, self-worth, etc.), values, areas of fulfillment (attainment of needs and desires), environment, and support system. 

When these factors are drastically impacted by an event, it can be life-changing, which is what sets them apart from circumstances that are merely difficult. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and because of this, things that are hard to face for one person may not be as challenging to another.

Does Life Ever Get Easier?

The question of whether life gets easier often depends on what “easier” means to you. Would relief from pain make your life easier to manage? How about skill acquisition, or more support? 

Life will always have its highs and lows, but as time goes on, each hardship better prepares us to handle the next. In this way, life can feel easier. We may face increasingly tough challenges and trials, but as we learn and grow through them, wwe become more equipped to handle the difficulties that life throws at us. 

If you’ve overcome something hard, or even just made progress on managing the difficult parts of your life, make sure to take a moment and give yourself credit. Celebrate your small wins and your large ones—recognizing all of the work you do for yourself can help you build confidence and feel more accomplished, which can increase dopamine levels.

How to Live Through a Hard Life: What to Do When Life Gets Hard

There are many practices you can do on your own to help yourself. Below are a few tips on ways to try to regain control of life when it becomes overwhelming or feels out of control:

  • Clarify values: Think about what’s important to you and let that give you a way forward.
  • Adjust: Think about your life—what habits or thought patterns could you adjust to make room for your new reality? 
  • Change perspective: How can you look at this new hardship or change with a more open mind?
  • Cope: Use tactics like self-care and or asking for support to help ease the burden you feel.
  • Develop problem-solving skills: Brainstorm new ways that you could address the issue at hand.
  • Identify strengths: What are you good at? How can those skills help you get through what’s happening?

However, life can still be difficult to deal with without knowledgeable help. One of the best things to do when life feels like too much or you feel like you’re in a funk is to talk to a mental health professional about your struggles. Not only can they provide a sympathetic listening ear, but they can also help you figure out how to bear the weight of what you’re going through and overcome your challenges.

They do so by creating individualized treatment plans based on one’s presenting issue with careful consideration of past issues and tendencies. Therapists are professionally trained to provide active listening, coping, problem solving, and relaxation skills that are evidence-based and intended to provide long-term therapeutic benefits.

Table of contents

Can Life Be Hard Sometimes?

Why Is Life Hitting Me So Hard?

What Is the Hardest Time in Life?

What Is Considered the Hardest Thing to Face in Life?

Does Life Ever Get Easier?

How to Live Through a Hard Life: What to Do When Life Gets Hard

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Laura Harris, LCMHC in Durham, NC

Laura Harris, LCMHC

Laura Harris is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC). She specializes in anger, anxiety, depression, stress management, coping strategies development, and problem-solving skills.

Christine Ridley, Resident in Counseling in Winston-Salem, NC

Christine Ridley, LCSW

Christine Ridley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in adolescent and adult anxiety, depression, mood and thought disorders, addictive behaviors, and co-dependency issues.

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Hannah DeWitt

Hannah is a Junior Copywriter at Thriveworks. She received her bachelor’s degree in English: Creative Writing with a minor in Spanish from Seattle Pacific University. Previously, Hannah has worked in copywriting positions in the car insurance and trucking sectors doing blog-style and journalistic writing and editing.

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