Friday, July 14, 2017

How Do You Perceive Your Suffering?



Each of us is a unique being, expressing a unique self, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And no one else can live our life for us or deal with all that happens to us. But as we move through life, we do a lot of feeling without accurate understanding of all that's taking place at a given time. And it's important to also experience life with knowledge and understanding and find meaning in our being here.

When we suffer, there's one question that usually comes up, "Why do I have to suffer in this life?" There are all kinds of answers, but in the end, who really knows? Maybe it's there to teach us something, to make us grateful for the good times, to appreciate our blessings, to emphasize compassion...and more. Whatever the reason, it's part of life, and we can learn to see it in a different way with our innermost self.

We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are. Unknown

No one wants to suffer at all, but suffering must be included in a meaningful life. Step back, look at your life, and ask questions. What is yours, and only yours, to do in your life? What is, or was, your suffering, and what do you see in it...pain, loss, bondage? Your own perceptions of your suffering create what it is, and no one else can experience or express it. Therefore it becomes something more meaningful that simply pain. And you can learn to not only survive, but to thrive in spite of it...or because of it.

Your suffering may be temporary or of a chronic nature. But your perception of it is vital to the quality of your life, and it can save you or destroy you. In a positive way, your perception can provide valuable information about you and help you see personal qualities of which you're not aware. Maybe you're stronger than you think, or you have 'first hand' experiences that can help others, or you've developed skills to compensate for the suffering.

In a negative way, your perceptions of your suffering can influence the severity. Or when you allow your suffering to become who you are, your true self may get lost in the pain. We apply meaning to everything. And if you assign negative meaning to your condition, defining what you believe it is, that may lead to more pain and inability to deal with it. But sometimes life itself will heal your suffering and provide a way to escape.

Until my early forties, I suffered from serious depression, and cursed the pain everyday. Then 2 years of intensive therapy released me from my prison and opened a door to a rewarding career as a Mental Health Therapist. Looking back I blessed those bitter years and expressed gratitude for the suffering that led to renewed purpose for my life. Those years provided insight into the lives of my suffering patients, and I understood their pain.

While working in a jail setting, I circulated a book titled, "Man's Search For Meaning" by Victor Frankl. I can't imagine how many read this book, or tried to read it, but its pages are yellowed, phrases underlined in pencil, words scribbled in the margins, and many questions from my patients about its contents. It offered new understanding and possibilities for their lives...some attainable, some not.


In this book, Dr. Frankl offers various ways to deal with your suffering and find meaning in it. Imagine you're 85 years old looking back on your life when you did a lot without thinking about it. Be an observer and remember...happy times when you laughed and had fun, the people in your life, problems you solved, your skills and talents, your accomplishments, things you did well and mistakes you made, lessons learned, small kindnesses like hellos to strangers, warm hugs, holding doors open for others, blessings given and received, etc, etc. Look at your life, and include your sufferings. They were an important part of it.

Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same. Unknown

Now return to your present time and see your life with new eyes, with a new mind and heart, with knowledge and understanding, and with love and forgiveness wherever it's needed. Can you now accept your suffering as something you deal with, while your light reduces any darkness you face? You have the ability to rise above any situation, and your beautiful self can find peace.

I wish you angels to tickle your nose.

Marilyn


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