Suffering Is Optional

I said to Ahoo, a super enlightened yogi, “I just can’t twist. I have to practice…” the words sticking in my throat, “deep acceptance.”

She complimented me on my practice and then said, “Suffering is a choice.”

She’s right. The sadness that comes from not being like the other people is real. Changing your diet is challenging. Marriage counseling is hard.

The suffering over the sadness, the diet, the personal development is optional.

Life comes at us with all kinds of heartaches and struggles. If there were a “suck scale” of 1-10 with 1 being a minor annoyance and 10 being tragic life-altering events, most of us would be sitting at a 4-5 on the suck scale. So why do we feel like our 4-5 is a 10? Selfishness. Isolation. Holding on.

When we are all wrapped up in a blanket of selfishness, thinking only of how the world isn’t giving us what we think we need and deserve we are desperately sad. The flip side of that same blanket says, we are worthless, and no one cares about us. Self-focus leads to self-pity. Self-pity makes us miserable.
The solution: focus outward. Let God deal with your troubles and see what you can do to help someone else.

Isolation says that we are terminally unique. It’s a lie. And it leads to more isolation. You know what happens to the gazelle that is isolated from the heard? It gets taken down by the cheetah. Don’t let the cheetah of isolation get you. Reach out, connect with other people. Don’t look to compare the differences “I’m glad that you’re having an easier time with the elimination diet, but it’s harder for me.” Comparison leads to suffering. Instead, look for the similarities. “When I had the pasta with cream sauce, I had a headache the next day too!” Identifying leads to connection.

Holding on
Holding on to the pain makes it more painful. I’m not saying to stick the sadness or the frustration into a box and lock it up in your heart. I’m saying acknowledge that it’s sad and move on. Holding onto the frustration feeds it. When I lay in yoga class feeling sad that I can’t move like others, that’s normal. When I fixate on the sadness and hit play on the tape that starts playing my favorite song, “Other people are better than me, other people can do things I can’t. I suck.” Then I’m suffering. And that, my friends, is my choice.

Just for today
When I find that I’m stuck suffering over my suffering, I will ask if I’m being selfish, or isolating or holding on. And if I am, I’m going to reach out and ask someone else about what’s going on with them. I’ll connect with another person, and I’ll let that shit go.

God, help me not be so damned self-focused. Help me see the world as you see it. How about this? You take care of my business and then tell me what I can do to take care of your business. Help me trust that you can and will take care of me and grant me the strength to get up and do what you need me to do.

2 thoughts on “Suffering Is Optional

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