Pain and suffering are not the same thing. One of them is avoidable…
‘I remember the fight. How could I forget? It was horrible. The things she told me! The hate in her eyes! So many years in silence, keeping it all inside and then she couldn’t keep it any longer. And it all came out. The pain! The pain of hearing those words and seeing those eyes cut through me like lightning, stroke me like if she’d punched me on the stomach. But she hadn’t touched me with her hands, just with her words. How could she hate me so?’
Hours later I felt somewhat numb. The acute pain provoked by her unexpected attack had abated and a lingering feeling of sadness and disappointment remained.
Today, almost twenty years later, I still suffer from that fight and from the pain it made me feel. Every time I recall the look in her eyes, the suffering returns. Whenever I remember the hate in her words, the suffering grows and engulfs me.
There’s no pain anymore. No pain as such. There’s no burning or tearing sensation. There’s no lack of air or throbbing stress behind my eyeballs. But the sadness, the unhappiness, the disappointment, the shock that I feel whenever I remember that day combine into the suffering that remains.’
Like in the example above, pain happens in an instant. If we choose so, suffering will remain for ever. Suffering is the story we tell ourselves about the pain. When the pain disappears, our retelling the story to ourselves or to others brings it back in the form of suffering. In this case, the person is suffering when remembering something that happened 20 years before. She couldn’t stop the pain at the moment, but she can decide to stop the suffering now.
In order to stop the suffering, the person can decide to stop repeating the story to herself or others or to interpret the story in a different way. She could, for example, decide to tell herself the story but from the point of view of what she learned from it or how it helped her avoid similar situations. Or even how thankful she is for the pain she felt that day because it prevented her from making the same mistakes 🙂 The interpretation is strictly up to us.
Once we realize we’re suffering, it’s for us and only us to set an expiration date to stop it forever.
Enjoy life… ALL of it,
Jessica J. Lockhart – humanology – www.jessicajlockhart.com
Jessica J. Lockhart is a humanologist, bestselling author and renowned international speaker. Follow her here: