Although no one wants to suffer, pain and discomfort seem to be part of the human condition. Individual suffering can range from horrendously sad events to small physical pain to deep grief, to physical illness, spiritual, mental or emotional distress. If we are broke, we might suffer; if we have money we might suffer. No one chooses to suffer, no one wants to enter into a place of protracted grief and no one wants to wander the halls at night because their over wrought mind keeps them hyper alert. No one wants to feel unsupported, lost, incomplete or unloved in times of hardship. But, in degrees, each and every one of us suffers at different times.
Suffering comes in many disguises ranging from a small child falling off a bike needing tenderness for her knee; to the soon to be mother who is screaming one minute and in love the next; to the guy who fell off the ladder doing house husband work and broke three ribs; to the smoker who gets diagnosed with emphysema; to the old grandma who is living her last days on earth; to those living with a dreadful medical diagnosis; to those with mental illness; to those struggling with spiritual breakdowns and those whose circular minds drive them crazy.
Why do we suffer? This ongoing unanswerable philosophical question is open to interpretation. Some say it is to learn life lessons, such as overcoming life’s difficult passages. Some feel suffering gives us opportunities to choose different life paths. Do we follow an avenue of love, compassion, happiness or fear, worry, anger?
Some people believe that suffering is a way to grow in their soul and spirit as they explore how their angst makes them feel and act. Others are blissfully ignorant and unconscious of the effects of suffering laughing off or ignoring pain, grief or discontents while plowing forward with their lives. When one starts learning the deeper, underlying “whys” of suffering they might begin to resolve their mental, physical, emotional or spiritual pain.
How we deal with our suffering is up to us. Some use a pill or shot or surgery for physical relief; some use meditation to keep ahead of chronic pain or to gain deeper insights into the suffering of their minds; some use therapeutic techniques to relieve physical/mental/emotional stress; some dig deep into inner healing hoping and praying to ease their suffering.
How and why we suffer depends on our state of mind, our ability to see what gifts our suffering reveals, our unique beliefs regarding the mysteries of the Universe and our ability to cope with what life offers us.
We can sink into self-pity or we can rise above the noise of adversity and limitations while focusing our hearts in kindness and compassion to ourselves, and others. With no magic bullet to ease suffering, patience and love can help navigate the pain. We might learn to understand the feelings of our inner world. We might feel the connection to our soul with conscious awareness by living in the moment. We might desire to understand our mental, emotional or spiritual choices.
If you are suffering, may it be brief, may you find ease, relief and meaning for this time in your life. As my mom said countless times when I was suffering—”Tomorrow will be beautiful”. And indeed it was.