Suffering changes us. And mental and emotional suffering is optional. Once we understand our fear, grief and anger are the reason.
Suffering is what our minds do in reaction to a worldwide crisis. Our mind is resistant to pain because of all the emotions that are brought to the front.
Social distancing is really compassionate distancing
People are meant to live together in tribes, villages, not alone in a studio without access to light and air. But at this time each of us has to find ways out of the suffering we are confronted with.
Do not isolate more than we are asked to.
Understand we can only control what is in our own mind and emotions. Yet you are not alone in your thoughts – reach out to others.
Those in chronic pain connect with others
Pain sufferers can help others during this crisis understand suffering. They had to deal with what they have experienced. Those who have had many losses as a result of experiencing pain have a wealth of knowledge. For example, pain sufferers might not have been able to go to work or to play with children anymore, or have the pleasure of sexual contact.
Or they might have become socially isolated because the sufferer couldn’t go out and do things. They experienced the loss of many activities that once brought joy into life. The losses go on and on…. That feeling of upset and loss creates suffering.
When my grandmother died decades ago, I was devasted. We were very close, and she was one of the most positive influences in my life. After she passed, I remember one instance when I spontaneously burst out into tears. My mother-in-law allowed me to cry and cry on her shoulder. I allowed the sadness to flow out of me, and it felt so freeing.
After that experience, I continued to feel grief when I thought about her, but for the most part, my memories of her are happy ones. Daily I still miss her deeply yet daily she is still with me.
Understanding what suffering really does.
Suffering handles us, it changes us.
In ways science has yet to calculate, suffering leads us to new experiences. In deep ways, it leads to a new life. Only suffering and awe lead us to genuinely new experiences. We can appreciate the opportunity to grow or only focus on the loss and pain.
What is the cycle?
But I choose not to fall into the cycle of creating stories such as, “Why did she have to die?” “If she were here today, she’d be such a great influence on my life,” and more. Rather than fall prey to mental commentary, I choose to live in the present.
This means that when thoughts of my grandmother arise, I witness them (which usually puts a smile on my face), and then I return to the world that’s unfolding in the here-and-now.
Most of our suffering is in our mind
When we stop the mental commentary about the suffering that we’re experiencing, we suffer less.
Following this approach, when tragedy enters our lives it doesn’t hit as hard and the pain doesn’t last as long.
When we’re experiencing extended periods of suffering, we each have a choice.
What choice do we make?
Recognize that our thoughts, the mental commentary is fueling the misery.
Remind ourselves that life doesn’t have to be this way.
When going through hard times, observe how much of the difficulty is rooted in the actual events and how much can attribute to the stories about the events. If we’re not sure, take time to be aware.
By sitting quietly and observing the movements of our minds, we will be able to separate present reality from thoughts.
What is the story?
No matter how tragic or awful things maybe, if we stop the stories’ future possible death, for example, it will be easier to use calming techniques. Invite healing and happiness into life now.
Once aware of thoughts.
This is where we have a choice, a way to exit. We can choose to react to the pain, and to the losses, or respond to it. Our tendency could be to react and to feel victimized. If we are ready to respond to our reality we can take control.
When we begin to take responsibility or to “respond with ability,” we can change what is happening within our bodies.
The suffering that we create in our mind, as a reaction to what has happened to our body, is detrimental physically, mentally and emotionally. This, again, is due to your thoughts and beliefs.
Express suffering and let it go
Edvard Munch gave humanity an eloquent representation of pain and suffering in his painting “The Scream” that cannot be heard.
A pain sufferer is desperate to transcend the isolating boundaries of his private world. Even in the most extreme of suffering, we learn to move beyond the boundaries of self and find some semblance of meaning.
Everyone worldwide will have to find their own way to understand and communicate suffering.
When the question why is confronted most intensely. Ask why is this nightmare happening to me and we will realize it is happening to everyone.
Do the majority of people submit to the inward fear spiral?
Or do they instead, they move forward.
It is decision time.