Pain is inevitable because it’s a natural part of being human. We experience challenges, losses, and setbacks, leading to unavoidable emotional and sometimes physical pain.
Suffering, however, is not just the pain itself. It’s the mental and emotional anguishwe create around the pain. This includes negative thoughts, dwelling on the past, resisting the reality of the situation, and clinging to what we’ve lost. Suffering amplifies the pain and makes it much worse.
The key idea here is that we have some control over the suffering aspect, even though we can’t escape the pain entirely. Here are some ways to make suffering optional:
- Acceptance: Recognizing that pain is a natural part of life and accepting it can significantly reduce suffering. Fighting reality only creates more turmoil.
- Mindfulness: Focusing on the present moment and observing our thoughts and emotions without judgment can help us detach from negative narratives and rumination.
- Resilience: Building inner strength and coping mechanisms allows us to navigate challenges and bounce back from setbacks with less emotional upheaval.
- Perspective: Seeking a broader perspective on our problems and understanding they often don’t define us can alleviate the feeling of being overwhelmed by suffering.
- Self-compassion: Treating ourselves with kindness and understanding during difficult times can significantly reduce negative self-talk and self-blame, alleviating emotional suffering.
It’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean ignoring pain or pretending it doesn’t exist. It simply means acknowledging it while choosing not to let it define our experience and control our emotions.
New Happiness Podcast episode with Dr. Robert Puff, Newport Beach Psychologist
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