How to Avoid Prolonged Suffering

Self-Help Guide

Prerequisite Reading: Stage One of Healing –
Acceptance, Even of Smallest Degree, as a First Step of Healing

No doubt, there can be times when we have to feel something painful, such as an excruciating injury, or some type of dreadful situation.  Fortunately, even with no-one around to help us, there is a way to modify our perception without having to escape from reality with dangerous drugs.  This alone has the potential to set us free from at least some, if not most, of the suffering.

If your friend or loved one is currently moaning and groaning in agonizing pain to the point where they can’t even think, this most certainly would not be the time to read this to them. What’s written here is for when the intensity has quieted down a bit, offering some moments of self-reflection. Perhaps between intervals of holistic, professional care, addressing the underlying causes, rather than just suppressing the symptoms.

For some people, pain and pleasure can sometimes actually co-exist at the same time, such as what is often experienced during a deep tissue massage.  Pain can actually cause the central nervous system to release endorphins – proteins which work in a similar way to opiates such as morphine to induce feelings of euphoria.

In any case, we don’t need to change what’s coming through our five senses, much less the stream of feelings that bubble up inside of us without control.  In fact, trying to push any feelings or sensations aside, though it may work as a short-term survival strategy, will make the situation more difficult to deal with further down the road.

We need to acknowledge what we sense and feel, and, most importantly, what we often fail to do, to acknowledge how we personally relate to what we feel – how we feel about what we feel.  How it affects our ego, what we perceive as our reputation, our behavior, or our sense of self-worth. A full acknowledgement of sensations, feelings, and how we feel as a person about what we feel, is an important first step. Words, spoken or unspoken, can be helpful by capturing an experience, freezing it in time, as it were, for our self-reflection.

The next step is more crucial. We must fully accept our acknowledgement about what we feel and how we feel about what we feel, with full compassion and understanding. While allowing all judgements we may have about that to be open to inquiry. As long as our judgements remain fixed to the nature of what it is or how we must be, how we are to survive in the world, we give power to the very thing we would like to be liberated from. This is when the words we used in step one above may hold us back, since words tend to freeze our perception of something over time.

The distinction between fixed judgements or choosing to question our assessments is the fork in the road between unnecessarily prolonged suffering and moving forward. Or, as the case may be with more prevalent though less dramatic situations, between boredom and curiosity.

What we tend to do when we’re on the suffering path, where stage one can get derailed, is that we tend to make assessments reinforcing:
1. That it’s forever – hearing ourselves using phrases that resemble “it’s always”, “my whole life,” and always will be.
2. That it’s solid, as in non-pliable. Here, we use phrases like “my bad back”, or “the herniated disc”, “attacked by a virus”, or … any noun used to refer to some object that we feel we’re at the mercy of.
3. A demeaning manner of taking it personally.

Whereas, the path of moving forward follows our curiosity through inquiries that we don’t have a ready-made answer for. Questions about what we don’t know. Our curiosity alerts us to certain cues we are now ready for. Cues that steer us away from the forever, solid-non-pliable, personally wounded mind. Cues that in no way negate our experience and yet open us up to possibilities. Possibilities relating to:
1. Time:    Granted “it”, whatever it is that’s disturbing us, when challenging our peaceful existence, may overwhelm our self-identity to the point where it seems like an eternity. Yet, can every moment be accounted for in being so intense? Or are there gaps in time for which we can’t remember being so absorbed with the unending challenge. Any modification at anytime? The significance of any indication towards an ebb and flow of intensity, is that the ebb and flow has a rhythm, a rhythm that grows on us in stage two.   Stage two is where we become familiar with steering through the cues that otherwise had us bouncing around like a yo-yo, feeling like we we’re at the mercy of time. Especially if we’re feeling like what we’re suffering from has been or will be forever.
2. Solid vs. fluid – The thing we feel we “can’t do anything about.” Whatever “it” has been that’s taking the blame for being the restrictive roadblock:    Yet, outside of trying to control it, are there relationships we have with it that might yield to our changing from within?  There are so many relationships to discover between the “it” and our other body parts, between “it” and the many characters in our life, and between “it” and the many parts that make up the “it”. To believe and feel that the part is beyond our control will guarantee that to be the case. To then believe on top of that that we know everything there is to know with regards to the “it” will only serve to lock us in a trap. A curiosity for what is unknown is vital for finding an inner wisdom. Wisdom that correlates with the wealth of knowledge that’s been recently unfolding about how consciousness affects matter, especially our cells within, and the relationships between our many cells, organs, systems of the body, etc. No need to change what we cannot control. As the connections in our relationships grow, our perception comes into a broader context as well, and “it” no longer owns us.
3. Taking it personally: Aside from how we feel about it, how do we imagine other people perceiving us with this situation? We need to compassionately meet ourselves with an honest acknowledgement of how we feel as a person to be experiencing it. What do we make it mean? And what do we think other people make of it. Any acknowledgement in this direction can be quite liberating in allowing the person inside to move forward. People live and die according to their life story – the beliefs and values that we attach to events in our lives. What the events mean to us. Without the new inquiries in this regard, we continue to be unconsciously driven by our life story. Every new revelation opens up more possibility for bringing us the ability to shape our destiny and life purpose.

Any question that leaves us wondering is in the right direction. Here are just a few examples of how we can take our hardships personally:

Shame? Embarrassment? Fear of how others are perceiving us?  Here we may feel trapped between right and wrong, whether that be through guilt, shame, or feeling the need to defend ourselves.

Victim?  Yet no one seems to care?

Uneasy about how we might show up in a world that expects us to be strong and capable?

Or, do our fantasies convey a wish for more attention?

Such acknowledgements may or may not be what we want other people to know. Though it can never hurt to humorously make light of it or in some way confide with people whom we trust.

What works is whatever we find through wondering in a way we haven’t done before, by raising inquiries not previously entertained.