Navigating Struggles and Hardships

No doubt that in this pandemic world we are currently in – a lot of people are struggling emotionally and financially. I have been through a few of these tough situations in life and I empathize immensely. How do we get to the other side of these challenges? Many people focus on action – such as pounding the pavement looking for work, and just as many people probably focus on what is wrong in the moment, versus adjusting their mindset to a better future. The bottom line is this: WHAT IF…just WHAT IF a few years from now you looked back on your current reality –  and it turned out that this struggle you are in was one of the best gifts you could have ever received? Navigating struggles and hardships can be the opportunity to grow that you have been waiting for. 


My Story

The two “worst” things that have happened to me so far in life turned out to be the biggest blessings I could have never predicted!  My hands and arms were permanent disabled at the age of 22 – what job can you think of that doesn’t require the repetitive use of your hands and arms for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week? Perhaps a translator, a public speaker, a podcaster, a coach, a writer (dictation) an actor, or a TV or radio show host. Those are the few job categories I can think of that jibe with a major hand disability, and all of those careers, despite training, are not guaranteed-income endeavors. That list of jobs are seemingly impossible to “get” because they are all very competitive career spaces. I remember feeling like my life had ended at age 22 even though it had just begun.

The intense fear, shame, and worry that I had for my future was overwhelming. I persevered nonetheless and set out on a journey to use my VOICE. I had no clue what I was doing, I just put one foot in front of the other and ultimately arrived at a place where not only I get to use my voice as a public speaker, podcaster, author, actor and coach – I ABSOLUTELY LOVE EVERYTHING I DO. Had I not been disabled, I would still be in the corporate world – bored and unfulfilled, searching and wishing for something better.  I am not happy and successful despite my disability, I am happy and successful because of my disability – I COULD HAVE NEVER PREDICTED THIS POSITIVE OUTCOME. For the full story on my disability journey, check out my book Confident as Fu*k.

I also suffered for about 7 years of my 30s with two bouts of severe Hypothyroidism. I couldn’t believe it when it happened!  I had already dealt with one physical issue and now a 2nd health tragedy entered my life, are you kidding? I was devastated and depressed. Despite being left in the dust by two dozen endocrinologists and doctors, I persevered and finally took control of my own health and resolved two severe bouts of hypothyroidism on my own – including an acute Reverse T3 problem. Through a devoted paleo/primal lifestyle, intensive personal experimentation, and a radically modified approach to thyroid hormone replacement therapy…I went from fat, foggy, and fatigued – to fit, focused, and full of life! I eventually wrote a bestselling book about the experience (The Paleo Thyroid Solution) which continues to help thousands of people around the world. 

Two negative and physically painful experiences actually fostered a dream-come-true life for me. I would never go back in time and change those experiences even if I could because the benefits those experiences have brought me (and others who are inspired by my journey) were worth every minute I suffered. Navigating struggles and hardships is often met with so much adversity, but if we change our perspective to see the beauty it holds, the way we respond to it changes. So, whatever you are going through now that ails you, what if you adopted the thought with faith, “This is going to somehow end up awesome. I don’t know how yet, dammit – but it’s happened for other people so WHY NOT FOR ME.”


Here are some tips to navigate hardships:

  • ACCEPTANCE AND ACTION: Stop fighting and railing against your current crappy reality and just accept that you are here now and that you will make your best efforts to move onward and upward!

  • AVOID BLAME: Stop blaming your boss, the government, your spouse, your childhood and start taking ownership of the situation so that you can change it. If you are in blame-mode, you are in victim-mode. Victim-mode is an endless spiral staircase into an existence you don’t want to tango with.

  • GET RID OF NEGATIVE INFLUENCES: Stop watching the news, horror films, psychological thrillers, legal/cop shows and films, dramas, and reality shows – and start imprinting your subconscious with uplifting content like stand up comedy, funny TV shows and films, and feel-good romantic comedies and other uplifting programs and podcasts. Someone out there has already struggled with whatever you are dealing with and gotten to the other side – read and listen and watch people talk about their success stores with hardships to instill and imprint hope and faith that you can do it too! And limit exposure to negative people, they are downers and during challenging times…they are like poison.

  • REDUCE STRESS:  Aside from positive dietary and lifestyle changes that could greatly improve stress, there is so much free positive content out there! Free guided meditations, positive affirmation videos/audio and positive mindset podcasts. If you want to read an author’s book but can’t afford it, search the internet for interviews with them where they always share their principles and core-ideas in their books. I co-host a free positive mindset podcast with Tara Garrison called KICK ASS LIFE – come join us!

  • GET A COACH: As a health and mindset coach myself, I understand the benefits of coaching and most successful coaches also have coaches they turn to! Self-improvement work is never done and you would be surprised what a single phone session with a coach can do to uplift your mood, help re-direct your energies to the right places, and help you re-invent yourself and your career through having an unbiased perspective of a coach to help guide you in positive and meaningful ways.

Whatever “nightmare” or “tough” situation you are simmering in right now, just know that there is a way out.  Unfortunately, no one else but you can truly uplift you – so go be your biggest fan and champion your own cause! You got this! So many people around the world have overcome what you are sad and stressed about right now…so, why not you? WHY NOT YOU TOO?  Make it happen. I believe in you. You can do this. 

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Elle Russ

Elle Russ

Elle Russ is a bestselling author, TV/Film writer, public speaker, and seasoned coach. She is the author of Confident As Fu*k and The Paleo Thyroid Solution.