Suffering is…

The aroma of the outdoor restaurant was intoxicating with Asian spices and Pad Thai, a delicious noodle dish. The sounds of the customers chatting and eating and the mounted television conveyed a busy, bustling atmosphere. A white eight-year-old dog laid chained up below the mounted television. He was emaciated, disinterested, and looked very depressed. There was no tail wag or sparkle in the eyes you are used to seeing in happy dogs. There was no response or acknowledgment of his surroundings. He had cancer and was slowly wasting away. In Thailand, it is against their religious belief to perform euthanasia. Living beings are simply allowed to live and end their lives naturally, even if it involves suffering.

How do you view suffering? The list of reasons for suffering is long. Perhaps it is an illness you have contracted, maybe it is a condition you are born with. A change of circumstance like divorce, an unexpected (or expected) death of a loved one, or pain inflicted physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually may result in suffering as well. You have your reasons for pain and suffering and so does everyone else. No one reason is more or less valid than others as they affect different people differently.

Pain from suffering can be immense. Physically, you may be debilitated and struggle to do the simplest of tasks, like standing, moving, or even breathing. It may be acute or chronic. For acute pain, pain killers may help and the knowledge that it will pass may render the suffering more bearable. For the chronic, the suffering is vastly different. Apart from the constant physical pain prohibiting you from performing your daily tasks, the mental and emotional suffering inflicted makes the situation worse, almost unbearable. The idea that the pain is not going away for a long time is crippling.

When your pain is not physical, it does not make suffering any less. Despite having a physically able body, you are in pain. Living is hard, thinking is hard, smiling is hard, and in fact, everything seems like a challenge. Your options seemed limited and your future seemed bleak. You feel the world is strange and no one understands you. You feel confused, helpless, and weak. Sometimes, when you look in the mirror, you see a stranger. You looked for company and solitude at the same time. At the same time, you loathe everyone and yourself. You feel no one understands you, not even yourself. Self-pity kicks in and feels valid. Sometimes you want to block the pain, after all, you can only take so much. Sometimes, you relent and allow the pain to wash all over you. Most of the time, you just long for someone to understand.

How do you deal with your suffering? How do you deal with your pain? Do you question why it happened to you? Do you feel it is unfair? Do you feel that there should be a limit to how much suffering anyone should bear? Do you feel that it was completely avoidable? Do you feel that fate is unkind?

Is suffering unavoidable? Is there a reason for suffering? Is there an upside to suffering? Is there an opportunity to suffering? How do people who suffered emerge more than what they were before? How does one gain from suffering?It is important to understand this is not about belittling suffering at all. Pain and suffering is real and it is not something that can be ‘willed’ away or something you can ‘think your way out of it’. This is just merely a point of view and you may completely disagree with it.

Suffering provides a chance, an opportunity for you to excel beyond your greatest imagination. It forces you to push your current limits of understanding of yourself and of your existence. Suffering is painful because it does not allow you to live what you think life to be in your current state. When you are in pain physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, you are unable to live how you feel you should be living. You are not able to move, love, think, appreciate, reciprocate, do anything you want to do, or simply be yourself and you suffer as a result. It could be short term or long term.

You may be tempted to give up, block the pain, escape, or ignore the pain. You know you are not able to. Find the strength to embrace it, accept it, process it and god-willing, learn how to love it, and even be grateful for it. It is easier said than done. Consider the alternative, repressed pain and suffering will eventually bite you in the ass. When you have done so, you would have changed your paradigm about yourself, and from that new(er) perspective, you can start to live again. Accepting your pain and working from your new platform does not make you any less than before. In fact, you would be more than before for you have not only experienced pain and suffering you have never had before, you have emerged stronger. Compared to someone that has not gone through what you have done so, you have lived and experienced life more. You are now richer because of your suffering. You are more than you were, not less.

I apologize in advance if it appears that I have downplayed your pain and suffering, it is not my intention. Just like a diamond that is forged under the most intense pressure and heat from carbon, your greatest opportunity also lies in your greatest suffering. Your sovereign spirit is stronger and wiser than your mediocre mind. Despite all pain, do not allow your mind to be fractured or your soul to be amputated.

Here are a few suggestions humbly offered.

  1. Allow yourself to be washed in your pain and suffering. Give yourself time and permission to delve into your suffering. Do not try to block, ignore, or avoid it. Make sure you have a good company to support you through this process. This will probably be a life long process.
  2. Practice gratitude. Simply write in your journal daily at least five things you are grateful for.
  3. Take little steps daily to improve. Success is made up of consistent tiny wins over a long period of time.
  4. Find a reason bigger than yourself to live. Learn the power of service. It is easier to find energy and will if your existence is not just about you.
  5. Understand that it is not a race to the finish. It is going to be constant maintenance, learning, and understanding as your suffering and pain evolve. When you can do that, you can help others as well. You will be in a superior position to do so for you would have gone through what they are going through and your empathy will be more powerful than someone who has not had the experience you had.

You are blessed with a superior mind that is capable of seeing things from a higher perspective. What do you need to do to view suffering as an opportunity?

‘Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.’ – Helen Keller

#sufferingisreal #opportunity #sovereignspirits #drlennonfoo #thisisamity

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