Suffering is optional

Posted on December 5, 2015. Filed under: Spiritual Practice | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Life holds so many mysteries and surprises – some exciting and uplifting, some downright devastating.  No one seems to make it through life unscathed.  We all bear scars of one sort or another as if to prove that yes, we have walked through the fires of life.  Why then do some seem to do it with so much greater ease than others?  What secrets do they know that pave their journey with ease and grace while others are continually raked over the coals?

The answer is both simpler and more complex than you might first imagine.  Life happens.  Pain occurs.  Whether it is physical or emotional, painful things happen.  However, our response to the painful stimuli or the pain itself determines whether we suffer or not.  That response is within our control, and it is our response which gives us the power to move through the pain by letting it pass or to stay stuck in it thereby creating our own suffering.

Suffering is optionalAs you might guess, our thoughts have a tremendous impact on our responses.  If we see life as a struggle, we’re going to attract circumstances to prove that perspective.  Contrarily, if we see life as supportive, we will experience evidence to support that view.  Letting go of the need to suffer then becomes yet another benefit to adopting a positive outlook on life.

The following suggestions can help to shift your thoughts toward a more positive perspective and thus reduce the amount of suffering that you experience.

Accept personal responsibility.

When we assume responsibility for our lives, we put ourselves in a position of power.  We hold the power to choose.  We have the authority to exercise free will.  We can set limits and boundaries.  We put ourselves into the driver’s seat of our life.  We empower ourselves.

By accepting this responsibility, we raise our vibration above helplessness which feeling like a victim to life’s seeming randomness engenders.  This shifts our perspective as well.  It gives us the insight that challenges happen, difficult experiences occur.  However, we no longer see these happenings as meant to beat us down but, in fact, to give us opportunities to rise up.  Challenges become the pathway to personal growth and expansion.  We build upon our previous successes and believe in our ability to overcome whatever life throws our way.  We will not stay down when we know our own power.

Be open to learning.

Life is about the journey, the continual unfolding of experience and understanding.  We are here, I believe, to experience ourselves as the divine creators that we are.  As such, we are continually given happenings through which we can deepen our understanding of ourselves and our power to create.  We learn about our resiliency, our tenacity, our precociousness.  We test our limits so that we can move beyond them.

When life is viewed with the intent to learn something from every experience, we no longer need to judge things as either good or bad since every experience teaches something.  We create more latitude and freedom to go beyond our previously conceived limitations.  When we can release the need to already know everything about life and ourselves, we open to learning more than we ever dreamed possible, often through means which we never even considered.

Don’t take it personally.

We so often act as if everything that we witness in life is aimed at us personally.  We take offense at a friend’s apparent thoughtlessness.  We become wounded because someone we want to be with is busy doing other things.  We assume that our partner’s silence or withdrawal is our fault.  We create stories in our minds that explain whatever we’re observing, and for one reason or another, we make ourselves wrong.

Putting ourselves in this place of being at fault for every little thing stems from the unconscious perspective of being a victim to life.  But we are not victims – we are the creators of our experience.  So when we stop telling stories that perpetuate the myth of our victimhood and stop making up reasons why we are at fault for things, we are free to simply observe life.  That friend’s thoughtlessness may have been caused by her preoccupation with her parent’s failing health.  It had nothing to do with our relationship.  The friend we want to be with who is busy doing other things is juggling a full schedule and will happily spend time with us soon.  And our partner’s silent withdrawal may be his way of dealing with added pressures at work.  Most of the things we observe other people doing have absolutely nothing to do with us.  So quit taking responsibility for their actions.

Being detached enough to simply observe life creates an incredible freedom to respond with love rather than using things as excuses to feel bad about ourselves.  Rather than becoming yet another reason to suffer, life becomes inviting and exciting.

Avoid comparisons.

When we operate from the unconscious perspective of being a victim, we often compare our experiences to others.  Without understanding what someone else has done to get to where we now see them standing in life, we simply decide that we are “less than” or “not enough” because we aren’t also standing there.  We inevitably make the comparisons about our worth which can only be damaging.

When we become confident about our undeniable value and worth, we no longer need comparisons to validate our position.  We realize that comparisons are actually irrelevant.

Trust that things are always working out.

Holding onto the belief that things are always working out for us puts us in a place of positive expectation.  We begin to see our experiences as life affirming rather than negating.  We weather difficulties with more ease because we understand that all situations are temporary and that by not resisting them, we allow them to flow past us more quickly.  We trust that every difficulty is actually an opportunity to break through old limits and create a more expansive future.  We look at our life as the mirror it is and rather than deciding that things are indicating we aren’t good enough, we see the areas in our lives where our beliefs are creating barriers to our potential.  Then we use that information to create even greater joy by moving past those barriers.

Life offers us endless support when we are willing to accept it.  Otherwise, we can also experience an endless array of difficulty which must surely indicate that we are unworthy and unlovable.  Ultimately, the choice is ours.  We can allow life to validate our worth, create ever greater opportunities for growth and endless opportunities to share love.  Or we can wallow in the despair of never being enough, never measuring up to whatever self-imposed standard we’ve created internally, and having no chance of beating the overwhelming odds that life stacks against us.  One choice is filled with love, light, joy and possibility.  The other is mired in despair, helplessness and hopelessness.

Isn’t it awesome that we can choose either option?!

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