Thursday, October 3, 2013

How Do You Perceive Your Suffering?

Those who have a "why" to live, can bear with almost any "how."  Friedrich Nietsche

Life is a mixture of happy times and challenges that test our endurance, and each of us experiences life in different ways. But when those tough times come, we all know what it feels like to want the pain to stop. It may be physical, mental or emotional, or all three, and how we perceive our suffering can influence our degree of pain. Sometimes that perception leads us to more pain and our inability to deal with it. When we allow our suffering to become who we are, our true Self gets lost, and our suffering is all there is. But there are ways to change our perceptions. 

For many years I saw my struggle with depression as a curse from which I would never recover. I vacillated between happy times with my children, and temper tantrums filled with regret for stupid decisions that led down the same dark tunnels with no way out. But when two years of intensive therapy lifted me out of my emotional prison and led to a fulfilling career as a Mental Health Therapist, I perceived that my years of suffering led to renewed purpose in my life and provided insight into the lives of my suffering patients. And I understood their pain.

I remember one patient who lived with chronic back pain. His life was falling apart, and he saw no meaning in anything. Then he discovered, through therapy, that while he couldn't stoop or bend, he could lay on the ground, dig with one hand, and grow a flower garden. He still lived with the pain, but by creating something of value his perception of his suffering changed. And I saw joy in his face when he brought me a beautiful lily plant he had grown.

In both of our situations, we released the creative force within us that brought new perceptions and thus new ways to deal with suffering. We both experienced therapy, but that's not always necessary. When you go through any painful time, know that suffering is what you're dealing with. It is not who you are. Use whatever means you can to create something meaningful in your life, and change your perception of your suffering and your Self. With me, it's my writing. I find my Self in my writing, and pain is easier to bear.

Every day acknowledge your Self as the beautiful creation you are. You're here to create and express the essence of your Self. Not your pain. You have the ability to rise above any situation, and your light can reduce any darkness you face. And you can find peace.

I wish you much joy in your life.



  1. M,
    Another insightful post. I've often wondered how anyone gets through the crazy-making days on earth withOUT therapy. Sweetie tells tales of children who are broken and sad at young ages, when all they should be thinking about is where to hide in a game of hide and seek. The trick, I've found, when in pain is to find the energy to do something about it. I've spent many a long day with covers pulled over my head (literally and figuratively). Funny how the sadness (now my backache) is still there when I venture out of my room.

    Blessings and light

  2. Thanks, Mary. We're body, mind and spirit, and when one is suffering we have to find ways to bring out the light. So we see it with different eyes, and it can lose much of it's power. Our world needs some light right now.
    Thank you for your insightful message.