The Truth about Pain and Suffering
The choice you didn’t know you had…
Pain and suffering are by far the most emotionally taxing experiences in life. Emotional pain hurts on a level that can be incapacitating, and the suffering that follows is brutal.
So just how do you get through something so difficult it seems insurmountable?
What if I told you that you have a choice? Yes, a choice…
I want you to consider the following statement. Bear with me here, there is a method to my madness.
The truth is that pain is mandatory, but suffering is optional.
Really think about what I just said. Absorb it and commit it to memory.
It’s all about the reactor factor.
With pain, there is an automatic reaction. What happens when you accidentally touch a hot stove? Ouch! You feel the pain and quickly back away. That’s the natural reaction to physical pain.
The natural reaction to emotional pain works much the same way. When something hurts you badly, your mind kicks into autopilot. So the automatic reaction is to get as far away from the unpleasant emotions as you can.
Here’s the thing-acting on that urge to run only makes things worse.
No matter how badly we want to run, we must fight that urge. That means looking at pain a different way.
To minimize suffering, you have to find the courage to feel pain.
Relief comes from training your mind to be present with the reality of the pain in the moment.
I know that sounds absolutely grueling, but here’s what I want you to understand. When you avoid unpleasant emotions, they take on a life of their own. As a result, they spin out of control.
When this happens, the mind does the only thing it knows how to do. It thinks. As a result, it creates subplots to the story. Reality becomes blurred and it is nearly impossible to find a way out of the maze.
However, if you accept reality as it is in the moment, you set yourself free. Like the old saying goes, change what you can and accept the rest. If you can’t change it, don’t fight it. Resistance only causes you to become stuck like a mouse in a trap-reliving the same moment over and over.
That’s where mindfulness comes in.
In meditation we discover that our minds create suffering by wanting things to be different than reality. So in order to live with minimal suffering, we have to live life on life’s terms.
This means we need to attempt to be present with the reality of the moment so that we don’t get caught up in autopilot thinking. We have to do the opposite of our programmed, natural reaction.
If reality is painful, then we have to experience that pain.
I know this is hard to grasp. I’m not asking you to make the pain worse. I’m asking you to accept the reality that already exists. This is your ticket to freedom from suffering.
Many times we find that by letting the pain be there it loses power and passes away on its own.
The takeaway from this post is that resistance makes you suffer. Let it freely be there. It will hurt but it won’t kill you. You are more resilient than you think.
This week, give this concept a try. Start slowly and take it easy on yourself. Change doesn’t happen overnight. And by all means contact me with any questions you have.
To your mindfulness.
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