In life, for the most part, the vast majority of us have decided that suffering is a bad thing, therefore it is to be avoided at all costs.
By living this way, it is quite likely that we are all missing out on opportunities to embrace change, learn and grow. This is the dilemma of what I like to call the ‘suffering avoidance trap’.
Are you playing the game of avoidance in life? Are you running away from growing, by staying in your comfort zone? If you are, you are likely not learning the lessons that keep playing on repeat like groundhog day.
There comes a time in all our lives, when we get the chance to face our fears head-on. To allow ourselves to step into the unknown so that we can heal our past trauma. Thereby allowing us to move forward beyond the prison of suffering, that we too frequently have caged ourselves within.
If I told you that suffering is a mental construct that you build for yourself? What would you feel? Would it make you angry? Would it make you sad?
I have had these conversations with many people who feel the irritation rise when they try to consider that their suffering is within their own hands because they choose to hold it. So if you are feeling that irritation rise, know that you are not alone. This is the mental construct we have created to sabotage our growth by staying trapped in fear.
Like others, I felt the irritation myself previously in my life, trapped by my very own spiral of suffering. It was a bitter pill to swallow when I finally decided to accept the part I was playing so I could go beyond it. But when I did something truly magical happened.
The mental construct of suffering occurs as a result of our reactions to situations we find ourselves in. These are situations that have made us feel uncomfortable. This discomfort often occurs as a result of situations and people around you, not meeting your expectations. Then the story your mind creates around the experience imbeds the suffering. As long as you hold the story, you hold the suffering of the experience.
Is it time to change your story?
The trap of suffering held within us from previous experiences with other people, are not ours to bear. Yet we hold on to them so tightly that we are white-knuckled. Leaving us blaming others for our pain, our time lost, and even the positions we find ourselves in right now. It is a pointless and unnecessary loop of denial, which is the trap that plays on repeat endlessly.
So why do we do this when suffering is optional? It is a very important yet sometimes difficult question to face.
In my experience and many experiences of others, we unknowingly have learned this behaviour through generations of social & cultural conditioning.
I have seen time and time again when the suffering loops have been passed on, generation to generation. In both my own experience and many experiences of other women I have helped, they became trapped in the same loop of suffering their mother endured, witnessing it as a child. In my situation, as in many, my mother’s mother and her mother before her endured the very same endless trap of holding onto suffering unknowingly. Yet, I and many other women, have broken the shackles and set ourselves free.
The beautiful part is, at any moment in time, you can literally stop it dead in its tracks and re-write your life on your terms. You have all the power to set yourself free. It is incredibly liberating when you uncover, then release ancestral conditioning and trauma.
In yogic philosophy, suffering is frequently described as unavoidable in human existence. It is believed that if you sit with it, in time it will become your blessing. I and many other women have discovered this is indeed true and experienced it first hand.
It is safe to say that most would prefer another option, like denial or blame. This is because when it is not your fault, you can abscond yourself from having to do anything. This is deep-rooted denial and is stopping us all from growing beyond the trap, which could enable us to feel into our full potential.
So what is suffering anyway? If you ask people around you, they are likely to have a variety of answers.
The dictionary defines it as the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. Is that so bad? We all have to go through these things to grow from childhood to become adults and beyond in every stage of life. This is growth and is completely normal.
Yes, your discomfort can cause distress but it also produces growth and expansion. Hardship often is said to produce greatness. We have all seen this in others around us.
I love the saying, ‘Good people create good times, good times create bad people, bad people create bad times and bad times create good people’.
In simple terms everything, including the apparent appearance of suffering is impermanent. It comes and it goes, as long as you don’t hold onto it. This is the constant loop of life in motion.
So in relative terms, those who hold suffering live in the past, those that fear suffering live in the future, those that understand the impermanence of suffering live in the present moment. This is the only place where you can let go of the past and write the future you desire.
Want to end your suffering, then you must first be brave enough to become present to it. Allow the feelings to be experienced and let them pass right through you. Suffering through the different lens of experience in the present moment is simply that, an experience. In the next moment, it has vanished if you remain present, leaving you neither holding onto the past nor fearing the future.
Don’t be put off if this concept seems too philosophical or hard to get your head around. Some simple techniques in present moment awareness can begin to build the bridge to learning to be in the here and now. Start with small practices and build over time. You will be surprised how quickly you can uncover a change in your patterns of behaviour when you become aware of them first.
Want to know more about how mindfulness can expand your life beyond suffering?
Check out my free audio content on youtube at ‘the art of mindful disruption’, and follow me on social media.
Your experiences in life do not define you unless you choose to hold them, instead let them pass right through you.
What are you choosing today? You’ve got this!