Be a River, Not a Reservoir: The Importance of Sharing Your Struggles with Others

Sometimes I think downplaying our struggles and pretending that things are just hunky-dory is a default setting ingrained in us.  

Don’t let them see you cry, complain, stumble, or mess up can be our default setting.

This attitude is wrong!    

In reality, the wisdom we acquire from studying, learning, struggling, and messing up can be invaluable…especially when we pass those experiences on to others.  

Be a River, Not a Reservoir

A reservoir is a body of water that is immobile and still.  It’s often filled with stagnant water.  Think of it as one giant puddle.

A river, on the other hand, is constantly flowing, it’s full of living things, and it  feeds into a larger body of water.  It goes on to bigger and better things. 

If you were to think of yourself as one of these two body structures which would you be like?  

Are you a reservoir?  Do you study, learn, and grow from your experiences all for your own benefit?

Or are you like a river?  Are you constantly learning, being vulnerable and transparent, and passing on your experiences (good and bad) to others for their benefit?

Making a Mess a Message

For years I struggled with an eating disorder. My illness started in high school, followed me into college, and finally ended in the early part of my marriage. Although I had put the illness behind me, the shame I felt around it lingered. I avoided talking about it. I was embarrassed. I felt alone and believed that no one else would understand.  

As the years went by I met young girls and other women in the throes of this disease and my heart broke for them. I knew I had to speak up. I wanted to let them know that they weren’t alone and that I could relate to what they were going through. 

I openly began talking about my illness. I shared what I had gone through, the mindset I had, the lies I believed about myself, and finally, how I  subsequently overcame the disorder. I offered an ear to anyone who needed it. I told them they didn’t need to struggle alone.  I let my mess become my message and as I did my shame and embarrassment dissolved.  

Becoming a River

It’s been said that “what is most personal is most universal.”  In other words, those deep dark secrets that we’re trying to hide, the hang-ups, the moments of shame…well…most of humanity is going through the same things.  There are universal feelings that people have.  They just won’t admit them.  This is why your story can bring so much value to another.  

Staying quiet, hiding in your shame, and pretending that your life is perfect is settling and becoming stagnant like the water in a reservoir.  

Letting others know that you’ve walked in their shoes, that you’ve “been there-done that” and that you’ve “lived to tell about it” is like a flowing river that feeds into others.   

When we let others know that our path in life has been filled with bumps, twists, turns, hills, and valleys we bring value to others.  Our messes and mess-ups can light the way for those that are walking a similar path as we once did.

4 Reasons to Share Your Experiences With Others

  1. Permission Granted!  Sharing our messes and stories of struggle with others gives them permission to be less than perfect.  It shows them that we are all “perfectly imperfect”.  
  2. Have Courage, My Dear!  Being vulnerable, transparent, and authentic with others can be scary.  When we share our stories of struggle, we build our “courage muscle” and help someone else to do the same thing.
  3. An Attitude of Gratitude!  Revisiting our stories of struggle shows us just how far we’ve come, the valuable lessons we’ve learned, and how much we’ve grown.  When we do this we can’t help but be grateful for what we’ve overcome.
  4.  It’s For a Purpose!  When we share our stories of struggle with others and watch it help someone else we find the meaning inside of the struggle.  We realize that the struggle we went through held meaning and had a purpose all along.-to help someone else!  

Friend, one of the very best ways to overcome past struggles and negative experiences is to find a way to use them for the positive.  Helping other people is definitely positive. 😊

Friendship is born at that moment when one person  says to another, “Wait!  You too?  I thought I was the only one!”.  C.S. Lewis


  1. Are you struggling with shame from a past experience?  Do you think that there may be a purpose hidden inside your struggle?  Are you willing to turn your mess into your message?
  2. What pearls of wisdom do you have to share from your struggles?
  3. Who can you share them with?


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