Great news! Much of our suffering is self-imposed. That means that we can do something about it. It is within our power to suffer less.
Pain is inherent in this human experience. It’s part of the deal (yes, there was a deal that we made before we came here, but that’s for another article). Suffering through this life is optional. We choose suffering when we decide to resist Life Herself – when we argue with what is, try to control what is beyond our scope of influence or grab on to that which is ephemeral as our source of contentment.
Didn’t you see how much happier Elsa became after she Let It Go? Which leads me to the first of my top 2 remedies for suffering:
After about 4 years of marriage to a drinking alcoholic, I found Al-Anon and heard, “Acceptance is the answer to almost every problem.” Wow, were they right! I hadn’t realized that so much of my suffering was coming from me wanting things to be other than what they were. Wanting someone to be someone he was not. And going after a problem without first seeing it in all it’s fullness. I slowly began to accept my reality, to allow and feel all of my feelings, and to then attack my problem with a full understanding of what was going on, what I could control and what was best for my own sanity and contentment.
I found myself suffering from non-acceptance again when my daughter was a baby and I couldn’t seem to keep the house organized, keep up with the laundry or do much of anything except care for her and play with her. A wise and intuitive friend called to say that she was getting a message for me from the spirit realm and They were saying, “It’s enough. What you’re doing is enough right now.” Tears of relief and surrender streamed down my face.
To check if acceptance is the answer for you right now, grab a pen and paper and list the things that you wish were different or didn’t happen. Also note people you want to be different or act differently. Jot down any difficult feelings that you have been dealing with lately.
Now what if you accepted all of those things, one by one? Just let them be.
If you feel yourself resisting the acceptance of anything, just accept that you are not accepting that, yet. Leave the door open to accepting it one day. Some things we are slow to accept, such as the death of a dear one and how our life may be changed because of it.
You can then consider if any action needs to be taken due to your current reality that you have now accepted. Perhaps you need to reach out for help, leave a relationship, or start looking for a new job. Some other wise action may come to you, after acceptance. You may notice that what you need to do is Remedy #2:
I find it fascinating that in the great book of parables, lessons and metaphors that is the Bible, in the old testament, God is said to have rested on the seventh day. God rested? GOD?? The omnipotent, omniscient, everpresent being? The Almighty? I don’t think One such as that would have to rest. And yet, “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
It must be important if even God did it! Created and created and then rested. And in doing so, made that day holy.
We need to restore ourselves sometimes. To stop. To listen. To rest in the present moment and let go of our agenda, our striving, our struggles. If you feel like you have no time for that – like you can’t take a “holy” day and rest from creating – just take moments in between things or on the way to things. Drive in silence. Feel the sensations in your body when waiting in line at the store. Take a deep breath right now.
Also stop working on yourself sometimes, if you are a serial self-improvement workshop taker or generally have a hard time accepting yourself (see remedy #1). Pause the work. Just be.
The magic in this is that we open to greater wisdom in rest. Inspiration is allowed in. Fresh perspective. New ideas. Vitality. Solutions. Trust that it is Ok, and beneficial for all, for you to take time off from doing.
If you think you might be suffering due to exhaustion, burnout or perfectionism or if life feels like a battle, rest. Take those little moments of breath and presence. Take a restorative yoga class. Meditate for 5 minutes today, and again tomorrow. Plan a holy-day when you will unplug, not do and rest as God did.
I hope that you found some benefit in these words and that you will share them if you did. I would love for us together to alleviate some of the suffering in the world.
I will leave you with the words of the indomitable optimist Ferris Beuller.