Challenges are inevitable. Suffering is a choice.
This was the topic of a podcast I listened to recently. In it, Marie Forleo interviewed Krishnaji and Preethaji. Marie Forleo, if you’re not familiar, is an amazing entrepreneur, business and life coach. Krishnaji and Preethaji are the founders of an organization called O&O academy. So, in this interview, they talked about the difference between challenges and suffering. Life will always present you with challenges. But, suffering, they say, is a choice. Challenges are the actual situation. Suffering is your reaction to the situation. Suffering comes from your mind’s thoughts and the emotions that those thoughts evoke.
So, how can you move through life’s challenges without suffering? I’ll be upfront about this. It’s not easy. There’s the day to day challenges. Things like getting to work on time, getting your kids ready for school, or dealing with traffic. Then, there’s the bigger challenges that life throws at you. Things like the loss of a loved one, a new diagnosis, or a career change. It maybe that a completely enlightened person would be able to move through these situations without suffering. But, for the rest of us, I think it’s possible to at least minimize our suffering. To find some sort of peace and acceptance within those challenges. Possibly even find happiness and gratitude.
The first step is awareness. Recognize that you’re suffering. Acknowledge the suffering. Maybe even start a conversation with it. Your feelings are valid. They usually show up as a message. So, ask it: "Suffering, what are you hear to teach me? What’s the lesson I need to learn here?"
And then, sit still. Let the light enter those dark spaces. By asking those questions and being open to what arises, you’re letting the light in. The light of guidance and wisdom. It may be subtle as a little whisper from your inner voice. Or, it may be more obvious, like a blog post, book, or social media post that you stumble upon.
If you find it hard to sit still, then try journaling. I meditate daily, which helps me tune in. But, journaling is actually the way I most easily tune into these messages. So, if meditation seems impossible, try sitting down with a pen and paper. Write down these questions: "Suffering, what are you hear to teach me? What’s the lesson I need to learn here?"
Then, let your pen move. Free flow. Whatever comes out, let it be. And, then go back and read what you wrote. You might be surprised what you find. There may be a new perspective, a solution, or a lesson in what you wrote.
I’m interested to hear what you think of this idea of suffering being a choice. And, what you discover when you try out these practices! Leave a comment below to let me know!