Life may be more pleasant and enjoyable when everything is going well, but sometimes we face difficult and trying times. A fact of life is that to experience some form of suffering is unavoidable. The acceptance of our own suffering is a big part into finding our inner peace.
Here are some beliefs/practices that can help support us going through painful events and experiences in our lives.
1. ” Suffering is a human condition“
Remember that no matter who and where you are, you will always experience unpleasantness, pain and suffering at some point during life. It is neither good nor bad, it simply is.
Suffering is part of being a human being, in the flesh, being attached to people, things, and ways. Whenever we experience something that we like, we are inevitably susceptible to loss. Hence our positive experiences are also tied to negative ones.
We will inevitably experience loss and change. We all suffer.
In your trying times, remember that it isn’t just you. We all suffer and have trying times.
Even if you have experienced terrible things, remember that others have experienced it too, you are not alone. Even though you might be tempted to think that your pain is unique, realize that you do not have a monopoly on human emotion or suffering and that others have very likely experienced the same at some point.
Furthermore, realize that suffering and vulnerability can bring people together. These are main reasons why we need each other. It allows us to be compassionate and caring for each other and ourselves.
-Here is a mantra to that regard:
I am suffering, and it is OK.
Suffering is inherent to all.
-You can also practice loving kindness meditation which is well suited to find peace in trying and grieving times.
2.“Things could be worse”
It might seem counter intuitive to focus on the negatives when things are already going bad. However, realizing that it might not be all that bad can help to gain some perspective and alleviate some pain.
In the practice of negative visualization, one will purposefully imagine his life being bad and try to experience everything that could be worse. This exercise can help to find gratitude in the situation as it is now, even though it is not perfect.
You can also achieve that by asking yourself some questions: How could this situation be worse that it is now? What’s the worst that could happen?
Try to make it as bad as you can imagine. You might find that it brings some relief and perspective.
Similarly, you can allow yourself to think that someone, somewhere got it worse than you. Not in a competitive or contemptuous ways, but to remind yourself that in comparaison to others, your suffering may be little. Sadly, we often feel entitled to our pain and suffering, holding and displaying them as badges of honer, for much longer that is necessary.
The scope of atrocities that human can and have experienced is quite large. If you are suffering for any reasons, maybe bring in your mind that mankind has experienced, war, torture, rape, starvation and the like, chances are it will diminish the importance of your own suffering, better still, it can allow compassion to grow within you.
3.“Suffering is temporary“
Many belief systems that aim to achieve peace and tranquility of mind preach non attachement, because naturally things come and go. One of the main reason we suffer is that we are attached to pleasurable experiences and averse to painful ones. However we do not control all that we receive and experiences come and go in cycles. Just like other cycles it passes and comes again, like the sun and the rain, the day and the night, rising and falling, hot and cold, etc. Everything is ephemeral, nothing lasts forever.
To go a step further, realize that contrast is not only natural, it is necessary. For example, imagine a world when it was always day time, or always night.
Something that might seem pleasurable at first will become painful without contrast. We are often drawn to what we need and seek in the moment, but our needs change, therefore there is no ultimate answer to peace and happiness. It is a journey not a destination, it can only be experienced not achieved.
-Practice remember/visualizing happy and sad times in successions. See how we have experienced plenty of each and that such is the nature of life.
Also notice how painful past experiences might have lost the grip on us that they once had, and how new and fresh pains might be bigger burdens. Reflect on change and time, how it heals all things.
-In hard time, repeat to yourself: “my suffering will soon pass”
4.“Suffering is based on opinions”
Most of our experiences are directed by our minds. In this way we have the ability to lower or amplify experiences with our attitude or mental disposition.
After a painful event, we often makes things worse by rehearsing it and amplifying it in our minds. In this way, we suffer twice. Once when the event happens, and again, when we keep thinking about it over and over after it has happen, instead of moving on. Our judgments and opinions can definitely work against us.
For example: Lets say that you kicked your toe. Did the entire universe conspire against you? Or someone played a nasty prank? Is it unfair? Probably not, you just kicked your toe. Accept that it is painful, and move on. When we choose not to move on, we get stuck into the past and perpetuate our own suffering.
-Therefore get into the habit of doubting and refraiming the thoughts that passes in your mind. When you have negative thoughts, you are feeling negative emotions such as anger, sadness, hatred, fear, etc, ask yourself, Is my thought really true? Do I know that for a fact or is it just my opinion?
Sometime we feels that others are purposefully malignant towards us, yet do we give them the benefit of the doubt? Do we give them a chance? Do we know for sure that they have purposefully caused us harm?
When we do harm to others, we always find excuses. In this ways we have a double-standard when it comes to our-self and others. In the same way we are offend tempted to think that our suffering is bigger than that of others. That when we complain we are justified because our pain is great, but when others complain, they are being whiny.
If we cannot determine something for sure, better to take the experience as is instead of making assumptions and jumping to conclusions which will only make us feel worse
5. “Suffering can be positive”
We often do not realize the quality or importance of our experiences until some time afterwards, when we have had time to digest them.
Challenging experiences that seemed hard and horrible at the time can be remembered fondly and as great turning point later on in life.
Moreover, during a difficult experience, We can also choose to view our suffering in a positive light, by changing opinion. In this way, any hardship can be turn into something good.
That being said, keep in mind that positive phycologie shouldn’t be use to deny how we feel, but to create perspective. It is also not a excuse for passivity, but should leave us to a better understanding of when we need to accept and when we need to take actions.
-Here are a few examples:
-Is someone is mean to you? here is an opportunity to practice patience, caring and compassion, and maybe help them.
-Are you hurt? Maybe you can draw a lesson for safety or practice your resilience
-Is something is really hard? it gives you an opportunity to practice your courage, strength and perseverance.
-Has a terrible thing as happen to you? Practice acceptance and self-care, it gives you and opportunity to reflect on the things you cannot control, and maybe and opportunity to inspire others.
-Is your life boring, devoid of meaning or depressing? Here is an opportunity for self-reflection, to learn about yourself, to find ways for deep lasting happiness instead of temporary pleasures
-Have you lost something dear? Then you were lucky and can be grateful to have had something good to begin with. Reflect on the positive impact of these past experiences and how they can support you in the future. What is in our heart is not truly gone, an object might be, but the feelings about a object can still remain the same.
6.“Negative events happen, I expect it”
We often lose our inner peace because we do not expect things to ever go badly in life. We tend to be unrealistically optimistic, or unreasonably pessimistic.
While being optimistic is good and brings good temper, the fact is that sometime negative events happen, it is out of our control.
If we realize, that we will be mistreated, others will be mean, fortune will not always go our way and that accidents happen, we will be much more resilient and open when hardship does show up.
Most of the stings comes from the unexpectedness of suffering, that we weren’t “ready” for it. Yet we never ready ourselves for suffering. Negative visualization, as well as anticipating different reactions/course of actions can be helpfull.
There is a lot of peace found in the acceptation that negative events will happen. When they do happen, we can accept them as part of life. And if something strikes that we haven’t experienced before, causing suffering , let it be a lesson for next time.
-If something didn’t happen the way we would have liked it to happen, practice saying to yourself that it shouldn’t have happened any differently, it is how it happen, and its fine. Deal with reality not wishes.
7.“Suffering can be meaningful”
Our suffering is especially hard if we believe that it is unfair and has no purpose. When we feel we are just another victim of fate, it becomes very difficult to find a silver lining.
But suffering doesn’t have to be meaningless. Many different belief systems deals with suffering in various ways, and we can also find our own meaning for why we suffer and how.
Here is a few way you can give meaning to suffering:
-Suffering is a way that we can connect with others. In loss or pain, ties grow stronger.
-Suffering is a great teacher, suffering indicates that something need to be improved on, our methodology is not efficient, we have not yet mastered our internal state
-Suffering is a great motivator for change. Because we do not want to suffer, suffering prompts us to take the positive actions that are beneficial for us.
-Suffering comes from Karma, and washes away Karma. We suffer now for the suffering we have caused in the past, in this life or other, and our attitude will permit us to wash these negative deeds away.
-Our suffering can alleviate the suffering of others. We can teach others the lessons that we learned from our own, or we can choose to suffer/sacrifice so that others do not have to.
-One can suffer well/virtuously. One can bear the cross, be a example and model for others, because it is what a good man does, to accept one’s lot in life.
8.“Suffering makes me tough”
Tools are harden under repeated beatings. We get stronger, more resilient and efficient with every trial. Suffering is inevitable in the process of improvement, in becoming responsable, wise, and virtuous.
In the same way that we need to push through the pain at the gym to grow muscles, or push through headaches to learn something new, we can view adversity as a forge for our character.
Any functional unit in a system strives for balance, in this process, it experiences resistance, and the need to adapt. Resistance is painful but it is the only way to understand the laws of the system and to eventually find balance.
If at every challenge, we say to ourselves, “This is making me strong, this is turning me into a better person”, we will start not to dread pain, but to use it well, and understand its place in life.
We might even look forward to difficulties instead of the easy way out and take responsibility in hardship, helping us not only to deal with pain, but to become our own leader.
This is a mentality of “battling pain” with courage and willpower. Participating in activities that requires efforts, physical and mental challenges, can toughen our skin and make us more resilient in all areas of life. Find activities that are outside of your confort zone and practice going through adversity with your head high.
9.“I practice self-care”
Just like it does for the body, negative experiences can also wound our mind. Like physical wounds, mental wounds need to be tended.
There are events that undeniably hurt us, wound us and throw us out of balance. After that happens, the best we can do is to pick up the pieces and care for ourselves.
We can and should care for ourselves in many ways:
-practicing positive self-language, self-cheering
-confiding in others, friends
-see a mental health professional
-find activities to transform or let go of suffering, physical activities, sport, work, art
-Having time/practice to relax: getting a massage, yoga, hot baths, comedy
-practicing peace: meditation, mindfulness, self reflection having alone time
-not staying alone, engaging in the community
10.“I have faith that things are good”
Having faith that things are good brings a good deal of resilience, and is often a trait of people that can stay positive in the tides of life.
Having a deep sited belief that things are good allows one…. to focus on the things that are good in life and let the rest slide. Such beliefs are that:
-It’s all going to be OK at the end
-Things happen as they are meant to happen
-I am in the right place at the right time
Furthermore one can find solace in something that is bigger than oneself which is benevolent and caring, such as a god or gods, nature, the universe, consciousness, mankind, etc.
Having a sense that we are supported by an entity greater than ourselves can allow us to relax on our problems and not feel them to sharply.
-Suffering is a human condition
>practice loving kindness
>Find a mantra: ex: I am suffering, and it is OK
-Things could be worse
>Practicing negative visualisation
>Ask yourself: could it get worse
>remember that no matter how bad someone somewhere got it worse
-Suffering is temporary
>Remember happy and sad times in successions
>tell yourself that it will soon pass
-Suffering is a matter of
>practice doubting/challenging your negative thoughts
-Suffering can be positive
>practice positive refraim, what good comes out of your pain?
-Expecting negative events
>practice negative visualization
>expect bad events to happen, let go of the wish to change them
>rehearse how you will respond in different situations
-suffering can be meaningfull
>find the meaning in your suffereing, maybe it is for others, maybe it is to learn
-Suffering can make me tough
>Practice willpower during challenges and push through
>Remember that pain makes you stronger
>Get out of your confort zone and challenge yourself
-Practice self care
> practicing positive self-language, self-cheering, confide in others or friends, see a mental health professional, find activities to transform or let go of suffering such as physical activities, sport, work, art, set time/practice to relax: getting a massage, yoga, hot baths, comedy, practice peace: meditation,mindfulness, self reflection, engaging in the community
-Allow yourself faith that things can be good in the end
>find refuge in what you believe
>engage with others that share your belief or have gone through similar experiences
This article is free, feel free to share it if you think it can help someone in any way, use it if you wish. These are simple introduction to deep concepts that I invited you to explore further and reflect upon.
In conclusion, if you are suffering, I wish you all the best, know that you are not alone. Keep positive and look for the brighter future, the next turn in the road. And may you be well, may you be happy, may you be peaceful, and may you be loved.