I wouldn't say I struggle with metta, because I do it, but I do think sometimes beginners might be harsh on themselves when wellsprings of metta don't just gush out of them. This is an attempt to build up from what's there.
Metta is sometimes translated as universal lovingkindness. A pretty high ideal. The amazing thing is that you can move towards that ideal. I find it useful to move towards that idea.
(I had a friend confronting some friends about places in America where you can't run for office if you're not a Christian. One person said, "if you're not a Christian I don't know your values." I would argue you don't really know someone's real values even if someone calls themselves a Christian. The idea that we can't have a secular or a non-Christian ethics, is Christian presumptive. Like they're the only ones who have developed morals. And even if you know someone's ideals, you don't know how successful they are at moving towards them. Even so, I think the use of ideals is important is being something more than a materialist or a nihilist.)
I like it that people are honest, when I am honest, and don't ape a spiritual personality by pretending that you are full of metta. Getting really close to the bone and seeing what's there is so important. A friend's recent reporting in impressed me in expressing the struggle to find a deeper metta.
I suppose it doesn't exactly feel triumphant to notice when you fall short, but in a way, metta practice can be about that. Reframing things in a positive way can avoid a heavy negative load.
In the first stage, I connect with just a basic desire to survive, if metta doesn't gush out, and I build on that.
In the second stage, I notice how in someone it's easy when you really like someone to have sticky affection--what do I get from them? I want to move more to a thou relationship, so I listen and hope for that.
In the third stage, I notice how I split. Either you're for me, or against me. I appreciate the various levels in which I do that, and appreciate the fact that I don't always do that, and I can take the larger perspective.
In the forth stage, I think about how I don't appreciate the circumstances enough to have seen why a person would be cast as an enemy. I resist reality in so many ways, and this is another example.
The fifth stage is the hardest for me, because spreading a lack of something, well, it's like trying to butter toast without enough butter. I can line all 4 people up and see if I can equalize the metta. I can also think about ever widening circles. Me, my household, my floor, my apartment building, my block, my neighborhood, my borough, my city, my metropolitan area, the surrounding states, the region, the nation, the continent, the other continents, the whole planet, the solar system, the cosmos. That feels like an academic exercise, but I do appreciate that there might be life outside of earth, and to just beam whatever positive feeling I can out into it. I can also think about all the different species on the planet, from the ones most related to me and beyond. (There's a funny and NSFW account of rebirth by Andy from Weeds.) I also notice how I get lost in this stage, that I have really found what really works for me in this stage, and that this is such a rich practice and that 11 years of practice doesn't really even begin to plumb the depths of it.
And as always when things get so airy fairy, I can also use that stage to reconnect back in with myself, how I'm feeling, and feel the fruits of the practice.
End note: For just sitting there, I think a lot about my todo list. Refining my todo list isn't the purpose of meditation, but it is a fruit, in my opinion.
(Note: Sometimes it's hard to trace back to who actually posted a photo because people reblog things a lot on Tumblr. I'm working harder to credit the photos I post, and not post when people don't want their photos used by others. That would be taking the not given.)