You’d be surprised how much you have in common with the high achievers of this world. They may well have access to resources you don’t, or have had a privileged upbringing that you didn’t. More often, though, they had an ordinary story that turned into a great one through some hard work and persistence.

Chances are, if you have a debilitating illness or other set of circumstances that could hold you back, you are not the first to experience it. And you’ll find that the people who have gone before you have fallen into two groups: the ones who let it ruin their life and the ones who didn’t.

We’ve all seen stories of people with terminal illnesses who are just the brightest and most encouraging people you could meet. And this doesn’t mean that they won’t still die from their illness. (This absolutely eats me up inside to say something like that, but unfortunately the life we are in has these harsh realities that we wish were otherwise.) But it does mean that the life they have left will be a blessing to others and a lot more fun for them and the people they meet than it would be if they were in the other group (as I am pretty sure I would be, moping and wallowing).

Of course, some people will get a new attitude to life when they find out that they don’t have much left. But this attitude thing also applies to other circumstances, and there will be other people who have faced it well. I know a lot of times it can be the opposite of motivating to hear that someone else has managed where you have not – it can make you feel like that’s just one more thing that must be wrong with you. But it should just serve to pick us up and help us see that this is just another human being, with no special powers, working out a way to get through it. And you are also just… a human being… with no special powers… and you can do it too.

Sometimes the best use of your energy when you are going through something incredibly tough is to find and identify with others who are going through it too. Some will help you through, and some will be helped by your story. You’ll find that helping others who are finding it hard to cope will build you up and help you through as well. You might realise that you are stronger or doing better than you thought, or what you thought was your weakness is a normal symptom of what you’re experiencing. Either way, don’t go through it alone. Nobody is strong enough to do it all, especially when things are tough.

You’re not the only one to go through the things you’re facing. Find those other people and use their experiences to help you through your struggles. And then you can tell your story and help someone else. So much better than struggling on alone and becoming bitter.