Suffering is inevitable. So let’s just accept it
So that title might sound a tad harsh. But hang with me for a sec. Let’s get real...have you ever known of ANYONE who never had any challenges at all in their lives? Do you know of a single person who has never struggled, been sad, or was nervous at some point in their life?
Of course not.
We’ve all experienced agonizing situations in our lives.
Every single person who has ever lived on this planet will suffer in some way. Each person may experience suffering in a different way, but we will all feel pain. There’s just no getting around it.
That’s why one of the first steps to living a happier, more positive life is accepting that you WILL indeed feel super crappy at different times.
Sounds oxymoronic, I know. But when you recognize that everyone suffers, you actually don’t feel quite as badly when you’re going through a rough patch.
That awareness and acceptance helped me through my fertility struggles. Friends often asked me how I dealt with my unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant while everyone else seemed to be effortlessly expecting baby after baby.
But here’s the thing about life – it’s not a tit-for-tat adventure. I happened to suffer when it came to having children, while most of my friends had no problem at all becoming pregnant.
That doesn’t make life unfair. It just means we all suffer in different ways at different times.
It’s a universal truth in Buddhism that suffering is an inherent part of the human experience.
So by accepting right now that you will face some form of suffering – whether it’s a financial struggle, a death in the family, an illness, a huge disappointment, a breakup – you free yourself of the resistance against it.
That simple fact gives you the space to be honest about the pain when you’re feeling it. I’m a big believer in embracing your emotions, even the so-called negative or ugly ones like sadness and anger.
And it means you don’t have to be stuck in an endless cycle of questions like “Why is this happening to me?” because why shouldn’t it be happening to you. If everyone suffers, then you will too. And so will I.
In her book, When Things Fall Apart (which I highly recommend), Pema Chodron says: “If we are willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation.”
In other words, life is so much easier when you just admit that you and everyone else will struggle. Some days will be extremely challenging to get through. You will likely sob your eyes out at some point in the future. You will be so scared and anxious you will feel paralyzed.
But while accepting that you’ll endure some rough patches in the future is a positive thing, focusing on that suffering isn’t. There’s a fine line between acknowledging the inevitable truth and worrying repeatedly about how or when ills will befall you.
You don’t want to invite suffering into your life. The goal isn’t to fight against whatever suffering you feel in your life.
You just want to recognize suffering as an integral part of your existence. Accept the suffering with grace as an inevitable part of the human experience (and seek the hidden gifts and lessons in each rough patch that can help you grow and evolve).
Now THAT’S the real gift in accepting that suffering is inevitable.
What can YOU do?
So...what should you do the next time you take a financial hit, or lose a loved one, or feel like you’re breaking under an overwhelming amount of stress?
Take a deep breath and say this affirmation – “I expect the unexpected and know that I can handle anything that comes along.” And you could add – “I am safe. I will suffer, but I will be okay.”
And then open yourself up to the experience and all that it can teach you.
(This affirmation is from the Louise Hay I Can Do It 2014 calendar. Check out my other 8 favorite affirmations from that calendar.)
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