Suffering Is an Option

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Pain Defined: is an unpleasant feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli.

Suffering Defined: To tolerate or allow pain or distress.

Do not blame the universe for your suffering. Suffering is a self-inflicted emotion. Suffering is the work of our consciousness. It is a choice that we make to purposely prolong pain. While pain is often thought of as a necessary part of our lives, suffering is far less necessary than we might think. Think about the last time you experienced some sort of pain. Did your pain dissipate over time or did you choose to prolong the experience? A common example of this can be seen in toddlers and young children. Have you ever seen a child sustain an injury? The other day I witnessed a young child jam his finger with his toy. Upon injury the child began to scream and cry. His mother quickly rushed to his aid and began to kiss his injured finger. It was clear that his pain had dissipated within seconds as his tears and screaming began to lessen, but what I noticed was that he chose to over dramatize his pain once he realized his pain had resulted in immediate attention and affection from his mother and various women around him. He began to put his finger in his mothers face and pout his lips. He wanted to prolong the pain by demonstrating his suffering to anyone who would give him attention. The patrons in the waiting room all jumped to action as he continued to pout and show his finger to them. They appeased his need for attention and comforted him with encouraging words to make him feel better. Within minutes he was being attended by several women and eventually he received a candy as a reward. This was an amazing sight to behold. His suffering had paid off handsomely. He happily took his candy as a reward for his suffering and proceeded to play with the evil toy that had injured him just minutes before.

While many of us would have difficulty admitting that we sometimes take a similar approach to our pain, I for one can admit I have milked my fair share of painful experiences in life. Whether it was over dramatizing an illness to prolong having to face the girls at school that were bullying me in junior high, or if I purposefully brought up a difficult breakup to prolong the support and love I was receiving from friends and family, I have in my life chosen suffering over acceptance.  In hindsight I now realize I could have made the choice to pick myself up and take back my power. Rather than face the pain head on and allow it to naturally dissipate, I chose to purposefully prolong the pain I felt and thus permitted it to grow larger in size through self-induced suffering. As we walk through this life fully aware that pain is an inevitable feeling we are all bound to experience at one point or another, have we also come to believe that suffering is a necessary experience we should not only tolerate but impose upon ourselves? How does one manage pain in an effort to not only dissipate its unpleasant effects, but also move past them?

“Pain is the feeling. Suffering is the effect the pain inflicts. If one can endure pain, one can live without suffering. If one can withstand pain, one can withstand anything. If one can learn to control pain, one can learn to control oneself. ” James Frey

4 Tips to Letting go of Suffering to Moving Past Pain

1. Accept What Is

Open your mind and acknowledge that you have all the power required to overcome almost every obstacle you encounter in life. By exercising your mind to withstand the voices telling you that suffering is a necessary part of your existence, you can slowly begin to take back your power and accept what is. “Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is… The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds. ” Dan Millman

2. Root out the cause of your Suffering

How do I relate to my pain? This is the question you should ask yourself the next time you think you’re experiencing pain. It is here that increased mindfulness can serve you during times of pain or suffering. The next time you are experiencing pain look at your pain through a different lens. How is your mental reaction to pain manifested? How does it serve you in this moment? If you come to find that your reaction serves no purpose, discard the notion that you need to suffer and refocus your mind. It is possible for one to move past pain if they choose to do so. When we can learn to see our mental reactions to pain as a choice, we increase mindfulness and reclaim our power. Suffering is a manifestation of our own making. As an active participant in your own life you can choose to focus your energy on what benefits you. Rather than putting all your attention on an area in your body or consciousness that is suffering focus your energy on noticing those parts that feel pleasant and strong. Notice how your pain will begin to dissipate and how your power and strength will increase.

3. Disown your Suffering 

Once you can stop internalizing your suffering and acknowledge the great power you have over any feelings of suffering It is within you to disown these feelings completely. Letting go doesn’t mean giving up. Letting go means you’ve decided to put you first. Disown those feelings that no longer serve you in a positive way. Self imposed suffering will only pull you further and further away from your true self.

4. Transform Your Pain into Something Helpful

While it may sound easier said than done, transforming your suffering from something hurtful to something helpful to others is one of the best things a person can do to find true healing. When you can let go of suffering within yourself, you make room to notice the suffering that exists all around you. Offering yourself as someone who has known suffering and has overcome it not only aids others to end suffering in themselves, but it also helps to diminish potential suffering from looming its ugly head back into your own life.  Extend a hand and watch as your kindness towards others brings love and clarity into your own heart.

Ambition In The City

22 comments

  1. This is nicely put. I agree that suffering is a choice that sometimes prolongs pain and also that suffering is a choice that sometimes brings about attention from others. You give an example of how feigning suffering may come become a subconscious strategy for gaining sympathy. As far as this happens around me, I mostly find myself either turning away or pointing out that the suffering will pass with some peaceful reflection or something to do.

    1. Thank you again for providing such insightful feedback. Peaceful reflection and meditation can be such a help in times of distress. I am glad you have welcomed this as part of your practice to overcome pain and or any feelings of suffering. Please visit again soon.

  2. “If you come to find that your reaction serves no purpose, discard the notion that you need to suffer and refocus your mind. ”
    Yes, complaints are only useful if they serve a purpose. Otherwise, complaining is another way to hold on to hurt. I think what you are writing about is that you noticed that the ego may at first manifest recurring pain and doubt if you begin to live in acceptance of what really is. Living with pain is difficult. The best course seems to be to set realistic objectives; make plans; to do what is going to be good for self and others — mutually.

    1. Thanks so much for continuing the conversation. I agree completely, setting realistic objectives that you know to be good for yourself and others around you is absolutely helpful for any person that knows they deserve more in this life. Embrace choice and keep moving forward. When we accept what is and make choices that benefit our purpose in the life we propel ourselves to new heights. We are capable of so much more than we can even imagine. Thanks again for sharing your wonderful insights.

  3. Pingback: Do they know?
      1. Reblog allows you to repost one of my stories on your blog that you believe your readers would enjoy. This assists bloggers to expand their reach among your readers and get more exposure. Hope that makes sense.

  4. “When we accept what is and make choices that benefit our purpose in the life we propel ourselves to new heights.”
    Exactly… and sometimes even unexpectedly, just the right action is suddenly rewarded as if that reward was there all of the time… it just fits like a glove.

    1. “It just fits like a glove.” I love that. What a wonderful feeling when we can let go of what is no longer serving us in order to reward ourselves with something better. Self love is the key to creating the life you know you deserve.

      1. Yes, of course. I believe that love will set us free — I mean that exactly as it is said. We are in a mind, body, spirit and it is impossible — except, when we live by caring compassionate loving action, we are free of the confusion — the mind, body, and spirit only integrate by love… with love — giving is receiving.

      2. You are absolutely correct. This is just beautifully said. Thank you for posting this on my blog. I hope my readers see it and are inspired by your words. All we need is love.

  5. “Offering yourself as someone who has known suffering and has overcome it not only aids others to end suffering in themselves, but it also helps to diminish potential suffering from looming its ugly head back into your own life.”
    I work in a helping profession — yet it took me more than a decade to be in the moment of helping — so, the rewards were small; I was sabotaging myself without ever realizing.

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