(c) Joan M. Newcomb
"Pain is what the world does to you, suffering is what you do to yourself." Anon
Pain is a physical and emotional response, but suffering is a mental reaction. If you watch a toddler beginning to walk, often they will fall down and just get up and try walking again. Sometimes, however, they'll look around to see if anyone was watching and start crying depending on how the person observing reacts.
(It doesn't do much good to have a temper tantrum when there isn't an audience)!
Have you ever noticed yourself dwelling on past events? The actual pain from whatever happened has passed, but you're keeping the storyline going in your head! You're creating your own suffering right between your ears!
Any compassionate person will feel a twinge of pain when observing others being hurt, but suffering comes from replaying the tape inside your mind, and taking on their misfortune as your own. Staying preoccupied about other people's pain isn't helpful for them or for yourself. It brings your energy level down and keeps you from noticing all the wonderful things going on in the world as well.
What if you feel the need to do something in response to flooding in Asia or an earthquake in South America? But you're not part of the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders or don't have the liquid funds to donate to their plight. Sending good thoughts and energy is equally as effective as taking action or sending money. But your good thoughts need to flow through pure filters. If you're suffering because of their pain, they'll only receive more of what they're already experiencing!
When you step back and view the bigger picture of everything, your suffering lessens. It's hard to stay depressed about the drought in Uzbekistan when you see the entire planet in all it's weather fluctuations at this very moment in time! Imagine all the weather fluctuations throughout history!
If you step back from your own life and view it from the bigger picture as your Expanded Self would see you, the daily dramas have much less power over your psyche. And if your view your own life story from the perspective of having a multitude of past and future lifetimes, it becomes just one more interesting book on the shelf of the library of life.
How can you do this if your in the midst of a crises? Know that it's only a small portion of yourself that is experiencing the crises and that there's a greater, larger, wiser Self witnessing it. Identifying with the Larger Self lessens the anguish and gives you inspiration on how to best get through whatever's happening.
Some years ago I was in the middle of a health crisis, which had effected my ability to work. I was also in the middle of a financial crisis. In the midst of this I had a family member visiting the weekend I'd decided to move to a less expensive place. Over that weekend, my dog got poisoned and drive all night to a 24 hr vet hospital in another city and get back on time to greet movers in the morning. Oh, and I was also in the final performances of a play, as well (with no understudy).
As I was driving back home, I remember saying to myself "this is not a crisis, it's an event" over and over again. It helped redirect my thoughts from a lot of unnecessary emotional energy and left me clear headed (enough) to get through the weekend.
Two days later I had an MRI and was told I had to have an operation to fix things. Than I went to pick up my dog from the vet hospital where the bill to save her life was $2,000.
At this time I got pissed off at my Expanded Self. The saying goes "You don't get what you can't handle" and I felt my Expanded Self thought I was *way* too capable.
Three days after that I received a 'sucker punch' letter from my relative that had visited me. It complemented me for my performance in the play and for the level-headed way I'd handled the events of the weekend. Then berated me for eking out a poverty level existence as a minister when I could be better serving society and caring for my children as a psychotherapist (that's almost an exact quote).
That bizarre statement was exactly what I needed. I had to get angry enough to break through the giant wall of Western Medicine and choose an entirely alternative route. Which turned my symptoms around (without surgery) and within six weeks my health was back to normal.
Looking back on it, I think my anger was a survival technique. If I'd lapsed into suffering, I would have been immersed in victim-thinking. I would have been incapable of helping myself out of the dilemma I was in.
From the bigger picture of things, it was a great experience to bust through that wall, which was really just a pattern in the morphic field. Western Medicine has an energetic pattern which we experience as reality but is actually just an accumulation of opinions rather than Truth. Finances is an energetic pattern as well.
That period of time sowed seeds and set things into motion that redirected me to an expanded experience of life beyond the limitations projected by others.
Suffering means you're buying those projections as real. Which just creates more suffering. Now, is that any way to enjoy Playground Earth?
We're not talking about grieving, that's something different (and a topic for another Ezine article). Grieving is a release of energy, but suffering is self-perpetuating.
Notice if you're telling yourself any stories that keep you feeling miserable. Catch yourself and step back from it. Imagine sitting in the highest balcony in the back of the theater and looking at your life from that perspective. Look at it from the viewpoint of the Director not the actor. Also imagine being the writer who knows the outcome (and the sequel).
Try this for the next week and see what happens!