How do you respond to suffering – yours and mine?
It seems like a simple question, but our answers to this question can reveal profound truths about both how we were conditioned and socialized (what happened to us), and also who we are trying to become (what’s emerging through us).
At some point on our journey towards more compassion, healing, learning and growth, we inevitably encounter the problem of pain and suffering.
What are we meant to do with the pain we encounter in our lives?
Here are three choice points that I use on my own roadmap:
- Presence: Wake Up or Stay Asleep?
- Am I willing to become present to the painful events of my life?
- Is my primary intention to wake up or stay asleep?
- Do I want to become more conscious, or am I comfortable being checked-out, defended against and numbed-out from my inner world?
- Compassion: Love It or Judge It?
When we suddenly have that moment of awareness, or insight – do we judge ourselves and others, or soften into compassion for ourselves and others?
Do we use suffering to enrich our understanding and connectedness with other humans, or do we defend against it in judgmental ways by categorizing, dismissing or diagnosing ourselves and others?
- Agency: Heal it (inside) or spread it (outside)?
Do we heal it and transform it, or do we perpetuate it and spread it?
This is the difference between those childhood abuse survivors who say, “I will never do to others what was done to me – it stops with me,” or “I never want you to go through what I went through,” and spends a lifetime healing generational trauma and pain, starting with themselves, versus those abuse survivor who say, “I survived it and turned out fine, so you can go through it too,” or, “It was good enough for me, so it can be good enough for you, too.”
Either suffering stops with us as we contain it, and transform what is inside of ourselves, or we justify and feel entitled to spreading more pain and suffering. We often do this either in a misguided attempt at getting empathy from others (“Now you know how I feel”) or because we believe that they “deserve” to suffer so that they can learn (which never works … but that’s a post for another day.)
Want some practical steps to help you be more loving and less judgmental?
You may want to watch:
And, here are some suggestions on how to heal the trauma instead of spreading it:
Have a thought? I’d love to know. Please comment below.