We all want to feel better. And we all want to feel better now.
In a time when there’s so much crisis and challenge in the world, we feel this now more than ever—this wanting to feel better.
And if we’re not feeling better, then it’s definitely someone’s fault. It might be our spouse’s fault, or our parents’ fault, or the government’s fault, or sometimes we make it all our own fault. And it’s so easy to go on the internet and type messages in everyone’s comment sections stating whose fault everything is.
Blame is one of the easiest perspectives to reach for. But our human journeys are not accidental and they are not insignificant, so why blame anyone or anything? Why not just live out the journey as it is showing up for you?
The reason we struggle to do this is the pain we feel.
Our lives are purposeful and important, even the pain, or perhaps especially the pain. Every aspect of our life that’s occurring is ripe and full of opportunity for transformation, if we are only willing to be brave enough to grab on to the moment and let it provide for us the riches it has in store. And these riches are generally to be found amongst the suffering we find ourselves in.
The pain, in all its shapes and forms, that we experience as humans is the literal treasure chest storing the riches we came here to experience. Inside the suffering is all the abundance and healing we can, and will, experience if we open to it.
Running from suffering is the status quo way of being, though. It’s what we have been taught, what we’ve been role-modeled, and especially what we’ve been sold. We equate suffering with there being a problem, with there being something that needs to be fixed.
Suffering feels like confusion, fear, anxiety, heartbreak, failure, disappointment, physical pain, and hopelessness. It feels awful, and when we’re in the midst of suffering, we wonder if we’ll get through it, and we also often wonder if we want to get through it.
However, if you’ve been lucky in your life, you may have had the experience of suffering being your greatest teacher. Of seeing how you gained strength, wisdom, clarity, new abilities, and freedom through persevering in the face of suffering.
If we sit with our suffering and just ask it, “What are you all about?” and “What can you teach me?” the growth possibilities are exceptional.
I’m not saying anything new or radical here. This has been taught by thousands of sages for centuries, but still we forget.
It hasn’t been easy for me to watch these last few years, as humanity goes through a communal struggle and we turn against each other. Each person being so sure what the right solution is and feeling if people just did it their way then the pain and suffering of a pandemic would somehow end earlier.
This is what we do—we want the pain to end and we blame anyone who doesn’t seem to be making the pain end as fast as we want it to.
But what if the pain ending is not even in your best interest? What if the bit of suffering you are facing is your greatest teacher, and if you just stay with it, all your dreams and wishes—especially the ones you didn’t even know you had—would come true?
You rarely hear people encourage patience these days. You rarely hear people encourage persistence. We have this quick-access computer in our pocket and somehow we think we’re going to look at it and find an answer as fast as possible.
But nature doesn’t work this way. Mountains take millennia to form and even an apple tree needs decades. Why are we in such a rush?
Is it possible that whatever suffering you’re going through right now just needs some time, some space, some love, and some reflection? Are these things so bad? Do you need to know all the answers? Hopefully, the answer to that is no, because it’s definitely not possible to know any definitive answers, but we can choose to take some stillness and ask some questions.
Everyone on the planet is suffering in some way right now. Your problems might seem unique, but they are not. Everyone wants to be healthy, everyone is grieving for the passing of someone they love, everyone feels restricted and like they can’t move in the world as freely as they would like.
We are all in the same situation. And we all have the opportunity to just sit still for a bit every day and breathe and ask our suffering what it needs, and what it wants to teach us. When we stop looking for solutions and stop blaming other people, we get the gift of growth and evolution.
This is not some new-age, manifesting, crystal-magic approach to our problems. It’s just good ol’ fashioned slowing down, being still, and going inward, and staying with the moment’s guidance.
It might not feel good when you do it—but it will bring honest results that don’t involve thinking anything bad about other people, who are also just trying to do their best to deal with their own suffering.
I know it can be desirable to try to find the next special tool that will fix all your problems, but sitting still with yourself in the face of suffering costs no money, needs no special technique, and when applied regularly will make you face yourself in a way nothing else will.
And if you ever get to the point that you greet your suffering with enthusiasm and gratitude, then you will know you are becoming a master of this human experience.