– How I Forget That Life Really Is Easy, If Only…
Do you want a contented life? Stop taking things so personally, then! Simple, really, but as you’ll see from my own examples, the seductions into suffering are many…
[Last updated: June, 2016 – post summary]
Pain and Suffering – An Introduction
What’s the difference between pain and suffering? And why does it matter?
Well, simply put, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”
And I’d like to share with you – via my ever-deepening self-awareness & understanding of the 3 principles (description of Inside Out nature of human experience) – some basic symptoms of suffering, as I see and feel them these days…
(My) 3 Symptoms of Suffering…
So, this piece is about pain and suffering but I hope you are happy with the idea that a contented life is not a life without pain, but it can be a life without suffering.
If so, then let me share with you my recent observations of my own ‘suffering’, at a really basic level.
Yes, in my ever-fascinating(!) adventures of exploring the Inside Out realities of (my) life – an adventure where I realise that we’re living in the feeling of our thinking not our circumstances, that life is and always has been an Inside Out job – these are the key ways I am now spotting my own pain and suffering:
- Taking It Personally: “Why is this happening to me?”
- Taking It Seriously: Judgement, not curiosity
- Not Wanting It: “NOT THIS!”
Reducing it even further, it becomes a feeling in my body that feels wrong (but isn’t – listen to Jeff Foster talk about The Deepest Acceptance to learn more).
Pain and Suffering Example: Taking It Personally
Let’s look at a suffering symptom, then. Let’s look at taking it personally, by making it personal to me. What do I take personally, sometimes? Well, I take this somewhat random list of ‘circumstances’ personally (and seriously, for that matter)…
- Painful feelings in my body
I call these feelings loss, hurt, or abandonment (a feeling so powerful I don’t usually recognise it for what it is, I usually try to ‘medicate’ it with attention, alcohol, or anything). “I shouldn’t be feeling this!”
- Other people’s successes
Success could be recognition, for me, or having achieved something I want to achieve; it could be something I could never achieve (and I feel bad, because I want to be able to achieve this). “I should be as successful as them!”
- Other people’s lives
This could be their wonderful life, wonderful wife, or even their wonderful children. “I should have what they have!”
Using the word “should” about yourself (or anyone, really) is always a bad sign, by the way, is always going to lead to suffering.
And so is worrying about what people think about you. (Or worrying that you care what people think about you. Still, I do this more than I’d care to admit.)
This is important, though: it’s not the content of my thinking that matters, nor what suffering symptom I’ve got. What matter is that I realise that I’m thinking (and believing that thinking), that I’m suffering.
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What Does Suffering Mean, Then?
Suffering is a form of non-acceptance. It means not accepting the IS-ness of this moment. To me, it qute literally means you’re ‘going in the wrong direction’.
And my mentor Michael Neill writes about the ‘value of suffering’ in this lovely piece about mind turtles (mind turtles are like road turtles – rumblestrips – but for the mind).
And I’ve even written an earlier piece called Welcome Your Suffering.
My suffering defintion, then: Suffering is feedback. Like physical pain, it’s an instruction to maybe stop (doing, thinking, believing) whatever it is you’ve started.
Pain and Suffering – My Personal Detour Ends…
As I’ve said, then, all of the three symptoms of pain and suffering I’m noting now often reduce to a painful feeling in my body somewhere (that I do not like or understand). But I try not to get distracted by the wrongness of the feeling (or the wrongness of the thinking), I try not to take it personally.
And when I do take it personally, get serious about my woes, or find myself thinking “not this”, I try not to take that personally.
Life simply reduces, then, to living in the outside world as fully (or not) as I want to, whilst taking more and more notice of what I like to call “my internal weather system”.
I live life in the Outside, but notice (and take full responsibility for) what’s happening on the Inside.