The Pains Of Life Are Not The Problem. It’s Our Aversion To Them That Causes Suffering

Published on: March 14, 2019

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No One Is Immune To The Ravages Of Life

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”—Khalil Gibran

I’d like you to close your eyes after you finished reading this article and think of a current problem. Try to get a sense of the situation and whether other people are involved. Don’t create a mental dialogue but imagine the scenario as best you can. Now zoom out, as though looking down upon yourself via Google Earth. How does your problem appear from this vantage point? Notice other things you observe around you from that distance. You might see your local park, swimming pool, roads and freeways and landmarks. The point I’m trying to make is: when we are embedded in our problems, we are not aware of the other details of life simultaneously occurring. We become caught up in our problems and don’t realise our thoughts are the source of our pain, not the events themselves.

It’s fair to say, there isn’t one person who hasn’t experienced pain and suffering in their life. Even a young child born into the world undergoes the pain of labour via the birthing process. Its supply of nourishment via its mother’s umbilical cord is abruptly cut and it must learn to breathe on its own. No one is immune to the ravages of life, however the degree to which we suffer is within our control. What we believe about our pains and worries will decide whether we suffer or overcome it. Are you satisfied that you alone determine the quality of your life? You must because you either stay mired in your problems or look for a solution. Life is difficult, though if we make it our centrepiece of attention, we will always find things to be disappointed about. Sometimes life goes in our favour, other times the tide turns against us and we are in a place we never expected.

Acceptance Means Non-Resistance

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”—Rumi

How can things be smooth sailing one minute and then suddenly turned on its head the next? I don’t pretend to have the answers, though wisdom has taught me to observe the patterns of my life which sometimes appear chaotic and random. This doesn’t mean life doesn’t know what it’s doing. It may be that we don’t have all the answers when certain events take place. Though, if we look back on our problems, we can see how the pieces of the puzzle come together in perfect harmony. Which means, if we cannot control the outcomes of life, what power do we have within the framework of our lives? Our attitude is the one true constant we can control and hence why the degree to which we suffer is within our own volition. It is not the event that causes our pain because if Viktor Frankl can survive the concentration camps of Nazi Germany and become one of the most revered psychiatrists of our time, we too can overcome our problems. Are you getting the sense that your problems are only subject to your thoughts about them and it is within your power to change?

I’m not suggesting it is easy and requires a willingness on your part to change your mental narrative regarding the problem. It requires flicking the switch and accessing your inner power and resiliency, to face whatever is taking place. This is why being thrust into hardship requires us to find our way out, otherwise we will perish alongside our problems. It is our resistance to what is taking place that fuels our suffering and inflames the pain already present. Wouldn’t it be easier to not contend with this? Wouldn’t it be easier if we could summon our inner power and accept what is taking place? I’m not proposing by accepting your problems you consent to it. Acceptance means non-resistance which helps you find a solution, instead of being the recipient of the pain. Going back to the problem I asked you to imagine earlier, what three actions you can take right now to help you lean in to your problem and see it differently? It might be as simple as changing your thoughts about the situation or finding time to write in your journal. Whatever the case, we must remain vigilant and trust the pains of life are seldom the problem, it is our readiness to accept them that awakens our greatest power.

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