Suffering: An Obstacle or an Opportunity?

April 28, 2019
Suffering is always bad, right? Not necessarily... In the first place, the only reason you suffer is because you’re clinging to something that isn't real. Keep reading to learn more.

Suffering works its way into the deepest parts of your being. It’s like a stranger who enters your home without permission and takes over your life. The good news is that it can either be an obstacle or an opportunity. If you set your mind to it, you can certainly overcome suffering.

Many people think that pain and suffering are one and the same, but they’re actually quite different. Pain is part of your existence, it’s natural. It manifests when you lose something you love or when your body suffers an injury. In other words, it’s a natural reaction to a negative event. For example, if you hit your knee, you’ll feel physical pain. If your significant other breaks up with you, you’ll feel emotional pain.

Suffering, on the other hand, manifests when you refuse to accept reality. It’s a choice that leads you to wish that things were different and stems from your judgment of things. Consequently, it’s a product of your mind and your thoughts. Suffering only exists because you negatively interpret reality.

Suffering Is a Vicious Cycle

You suffer when you find yourself in situations that cause anxiety, frustration, sadness, or helplessness. When you feel like you can’t do anything or you don’t have any options, you suffer. However, just because you can’t see a way out doesn’t mean that there isn’t one. You’re just choosing inaction.

Even though no one is immune to suffering, knowing how to manage it and deal with it is important. Otherwise, it could become chronic. In fact, for some people, suffering is addictive. That’s because putting an end to your suffering implies making changes, and changes can be threatening.

Is suffering an obstacle or an opportunity?

Some people believe that life is really hard and suffering is an inherent part of being alive. Other people see it as part of the effort you have to make to reach your goals. Still, others believe that suffering or not is entirely a matter of luck. Whatever you believe, we all know what suffering feels like, and it’s not pleasant.

When you suffer, you become self-absorbed and fixated on all the negativity around you. It’s as if it was impossible to see beyond yourself. However, suffering can be an obstacle or an opportunity. If you see it as an opportunity, you’ll be able to make the best of your situation.

The secret lies in redirecting your attention, being open to the present, and considering all of the possibilities. Above all, you must stop denying your reality. Self-reflecting and taking responsibility for yourself and your thoughts will help put an end to your suffering. That process will help you focus your attention on the things you can control.

Suffering Can Be an Obstacle or an Opportunity

When you feel threatened by change, your suffering will probably be an obstacle to facing your fears and improving your life. On the other hand, choosing to make changes, with all the frustration that they bring, is the true obstacle.

Change is scary. After all, you’re facing uncertainty and you feel like everything is spiraling out of control. However, you can’t give up just because you’re scared of the unknown. When you find yourself wondering about the future, focus on what you can control. For example, you can control your thoughts, emotions, and your interpretation of events.

You’re the only one who can decide how to behave in any given situation. When you take responsibility for yourself, suffering becomes optional. You can decide if you want to suffer or face your problems head-on.

What Can I Do about Suffering?

When you’re in the middle of a difficult situation, you tend to focus only on the negative. It’s too easy to ignore all the positive things in your life in those moments. Sometimes, you even prefer to cling to your suffering, in spite of how this negatively affects your physical and mental health.

When things don’t go your way, it’s easy for you to feel vulnerable and frustrated. Both of those things can lead to suffering. However, you’re the one who insists on fighting against what you can’t change. What if you stopped fighting? What if you decided to learn from your suffering and let go of unnecessary baggage? Do that, and your perspective will radically change.

A woman wrapped in a blanket on a lake.

If you consider suffering an opportunity for growth and learning, you’ll enrich your life. Although it’ll be hard to do at first, once you get the hang of it, it’ll help you avoid unnecessary pain.

Suffering arises when you feel like a victim of a situation you have no control over. If you focus on what you can control and on your own strengths, you’ll realize that this negative emotion will disappear from your life.

At the end of the day, you know that you can’t control your circumstances and what goes on around you. What you can control, however, is your attitude towards those circumstances. You don’t have to understand everything all the time in order to accept it. If you adopt this way of thinking, you’ll live a happier life.