A Way Out of Suffering

Photo of Buddha for Blog Entry, What is Suffering?

A Way Out of Suffering

Sometimes bad things just happen. In these situations, there are several choices. We cannot always change what happens, but we can change how we react to it, and what lessons we learn from it.  If we don’t, it can lead to more suffering.

Suffering is hard to define and measure. History Illustrates how lives are entangled in patterns of suffering. Society and circumstance sometimes push for control, which can lead to suffering. Disease, injury and the death of loved ones can all lead to suffering.  When someone acts or reacts without understanding or with thoughtless action, it can lead to suffering. Even when we suffer, our suffering can lead to other people suffering. There are many circumstances that lead to suffering.

When we suffer in any particular situation, does the aftermath lead us to fight or to find flight?

In other words, do we hold onto the fight, or do we see the higher meaning and the opportunity for the experience? When we ask ourselves about higher meaning, it opens up the ability to recognize that in every suffering there is a gift. The gift can help us understand ourselves and others, and can help us live a better and more loving life.

Healing

How do we heal and rid the self of suffering? How do we stop being the victim? How do we stop looking outside for answers, instead of inside?  These are good questions without easy answers, and all I can offer is my philosophy and my on-going attempts of self-love.

Sometimes healing happens in time or with the realization that we have more control than we thought we did, whether it be emotions or actions. Healing comes from the understanding that suffering is a result of the absence of self-love. We have to love ourselves enough, in order to feel beyond the pain.

A question I ask myself all the time is, ”Do I spend more time suffering, or do I spend more time looking to the present moment for joy and happiness?” It’s when we notice the light in ourselves and others, that we leave behind the dark.

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the first step to release personal suffering. On the journey in becoming self-aware, we begin to understand why we suffer in any given situation and start to feel about how we can shed the things that no longer serve us.

In the past, I denied myself the understanding that I was depressed and felt that my unhappiness, on and off, was just normal. I believe that my unhappiness was not about me, but instead about attachment to outcome and disappointment of others.

Running away from feelings is denying yourself healing. Be angry, be sad, feel sorry for yourself, and then forgive yourself. Sometimes I want to cry about the past, and in doing so I begin the healing process. Crying is medicine for the soul. Once you deal with your own stuff, it is easier to deal with others, and it is easier to find your way out of your hidden emotions.

Taking Control

My self-realization happened when I understood how to create my world, instead of allowing it to be created for me.  This happened because I hit a brick wall, and realized that I was repeating patterns of behavior that didn’t serve my happiness. I learned how to say no, and how to release myself from fear of failure, and how to communicate.

When we start to drive the car in life instead of becoming a passenger, our perspective changes about people, relationships, and circumstance. Our perspective changes about ourselves. We no longer rely on things outside ourselves, for the purpose of defining our life and our happiness.

Of course, this path to realization is not always easy and can be ever-evolving on many levels. The maintenance of joy is about checking-in with the self on an ongoing basis, in order to realize what we need in our lives at any given moment. Self-awareness helps us sort out feelings, realize our gifts, and reach out for help when it comes to inspiration and empowerment in life. Self-awareness helps us to express to others what we need in our lives, in order to be happy.

Vulnerability

People are sometimes afraid to be vulnerable, especially when it reveals imperfections or regrets. To accept our humanity and the imperfection inside ourselves is a choice that helps to accept imperfection in others, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. Opening up can lead to a mutual understanding that we are not alone in our humanity.

Vulnerability, as it relates to imperfections, can be a powerful tool. Not only is it about honesty, but communication from the heart. When we are vulnerable with someone, this can lead to trust and open communications, as well as common ground and mutual inspiration. If it fails, it enlightens us to the restrictive possibilities in any relationship.

Thoughtful  Action in the Present Moment

We don’t always live in a world of thoughtful action, but we can recognize this thoughtfulness in people, and strive for this within ourselves. It is when we do something really surprising in a negative situation that the energy shifts. It’s not always easy to be thoughtful or neutral when we are the recipients of thoughtless or negative actions, nor is it easy to control our emotions when a negative situation arises.

I remember one time I had a fender-bender in a parking lot. A lady and I were backing out of our parking places at the same time and hit each other. She came at me with her anger, and I tried to calmly respond. It took three attempts on my part for her to relax. She had this confused look on her face as if she didn’t know what to do with her anger. The energy shifted in the present. It was quite a powerful moment.

What I do realize from this moment, is that it was much easier to establish this with someone I didn’t know, than it was to establish this with my family. Unfortunately, those that are closest to our hearts are the ones most likely to be entangled in our karma. But the principle of this story still rings true, and it is with love that we can detangle the cords of negativity.

When we change patterns of our behavior, we begin to change the patterns around us.

When we release the expectations of our love, we begin to release suffering.  Giving love and care to a situation without attachment to the outcome, not only helps us feel good in the moment, but it releases entanglement with other people’s karma.

Releasing the Victim Inside

Is it possible to understand the other side of the victim situation? Is it possible to understand that a perpetrator of negative or violent behavior is a self-love situation? These are tough questions to ponder because sometimes we do nothing to warrant action from those that go outside for empowerment.

A wise friend of mine once stated, ”A person’s suffering is no greater or lesser than anyone else’s. Pain is pain. Suffering is suffering.”

There are two sides to every victim situation, that both end up in suffering. If we can get ourselves out of the victim mentality, we begin to understand the why’s of the circumstance. It can lead to compassion, if only from afar. But, the first step is to love ourselves and recognize that we deserve to be happy and that we no longer want to be the victim. Having compassion for ourselves goes beyond feeling sorry for ourselves; it brings us into the light of self-giving.

When we realize that we have a choice to step out of the victim role, we make room for other ventures in life, and we realize that we no longer want to suffer.

Lesley Wexler
Heart Above™