Articles

Pain is Inevitable; It’s the Suffering that’s Optional

We have a consuming passion to have things our own way since infancy. Real life, however, is full of uncertainties. We are faced with unexpected events that could be either pleasant, or horrid. Nice surprises or lucky encounters make us love life, energize us, and brighten up our frame of mind. At other times, things go astray: Dreams collapse, loved ones die, failure strikes, or we get betrayed. All sorts of negative feelings spiral us downward to the experience of inevitable pain. 

As humans, we are honored to have such distinct emotions: honored, as these lift us beyond the physical experience shared by other species. We welcome with grace positive feelings and take these for granted as the proper state of affairs. When pain strikes us, we indulge in self-blame, or blame the whole course of life of being. We forget that pain is an essential component of our growth journey. It’s a powerful educator of the truth that nothing is absolutely within our control. We can never be totally in charge of our surrounding no matter how hard we try. What we can control, though, is our emotional reactions to what life brings us.

So, instead of despairing in face of setbacks, we have a choice between ruminating over our helplessness or empowering ourselves with added knowledge about reality: We are only masters of ourselves. Our choices pertain to our handling our own responses. We are what we choose to be: happy or hurt; filled with gratitude or denial; passionate learners or mediocre passives. When we sober up and look back at our past sufferings, we often come to realize that we unnecessarily let it dominate us for a lengthier time than needed. Life goes on with all its ebbs and flows. The cycle persists. We cannot totally eliminate the pain experience, but we surely can shorten our suffering. In the end, all it takes is serious attempts at remaining open to considering healthier possibilities........