Struggling verses Suffering

It’s so easy to feel alone, to feel isolated in our suffering. So many of my clients feel like they are the only one going through what they’re going through. And while the details of their story may be unique, the general theme is not. We, as humans, struggle. We experience thoughts that are unpleasant. We experience emotions that are unpleasant. We experience circumstances and events that are unpleasant.

We experience. As humans. This is the human experience. Which means that you are not alone in your experience of suffering, just as you are not alone in your experience of joy.

You are not alone.

Because we are all spirits in human bodies having a human experience, you are not alone in your struggle. We are all trying our best everyday, we are living with pain, we are dealing with difficulty, we are processing the past and trying our darndest to envision a peaceful future. We are doing the best we can with the tools we have in the present moment to try and forge ahead in this crazy, mixed-up, confusing world we live in. Sometimes, there are no answers. Sometimes, there are no ways of knowing. Sometimes, our tools fail us and sometimes our best still hurts those around us.

It’s very easy to pretend that we’re not in pain. It seems safer to keep our pain hidden, to remain protected in a shell of smiles. To keep a public persona of energy and enthusiasm and a public one of constant sunshine.

When I started this blog, it was to write about my experience in yoga. And then in my journey to find svastha, or the Ayurvedic definition of health. But more than anything, this blog has been a way for me to share experience, for me to say you are not alone, that we all struggle, that I struggle, and that through sharing our experience we can bring ourselves closer to each other in heart, no matter how far apart we live.

I know what it’s like to struggle silently. I know what it’s like to let difficult things go unprocessed. I know what it’s like to try my best, to use all the tools I have and to have that still not be good enough. I am an imperfect person. I am complete, and yet I am imperfect. I try my best, and yet sometimes that doesn’t work either.  And this is part of the process of being human, the process of living in human bodies. Sadness and pain are part of life. But you can choose not to suffer through your experience of them. Suffering is a choice. We can avoid suffering through choosing to see our pain as experience, as a learning experience, and to avoid the things that lead to suffering. This means that we must take responsibility for ourselves, for our actions, and to speak and act with integrity both towards ourselves and to others.

To learn from pain, reframe experiences in terms of what they can teach you about yourself and how you treat others. Avoid suffering by steering clear of self-blame and self-punishing; you’re just here to learn. If you did your best, awesome! If you didn’t, figure out where you went away from yourself. Give apologies where they are warranted; remember, you must take responsibility for your actions. If you did your best and it didn’t work, learn more, get a bigger bag of tools for the future. If you did your best and it still hurt someone else, apologize. Then learn more. Learn more, not so you can be in a process of pleasing others or getting out of their way, but so that you can be more available to your spirit, to your truth, so you can stay out of your own way and so that you can always enter into process with compassion for yourself and for others.

Don’t hide. Suffering is dangerous, and suffering silently is even more dangerous. Yes, alone time and private time to process are all important so that you can get to know yourself, but also learn when to reach out. When to share, when to be vulnerable, when to ask for help. I know that I am not alone when I struggle or suffer, and neither are you.

One Comment on “Struggling verses Suffering”

  1. Pingback: Managing Sadness and Other Dark Emotions |

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