I imagine most people would consider that having a perfect life is a great long-term goal. Because, none of us want to be living through experiences that bring us down and cause us to suffer, right?
Wouldn’t life just be so much better if we could have all the money, free time, toys, skills, intelligence, etc. that we want…. whenever we want? And why not just be surrounded by wonderful families and friends to hang out with whenever we choose to as well?
Let’s not stop there, because, really, everything should always be working out for us (in our favor) in the best possible ways and in the perfect timing. After all, it’s our life, so why shouldn’t we be able to choose how it works out for us? Right?
Unfortunately, our lives are not like this, and this is the main reason for our suffering! Our suffering is revealed to us as the negative emotions we feel when the things we desire and expect for our lives are not matching the current reality we are living. That’s all…..
Why am I suffering?
The level of importance we place on THE GAP BETWEEN THE LIVES WE ARE LIVING AND THE LIVES WE DESIRE FOR OURSELVES determines how much we will suffer. Therefore, it is our attachment to believing that things should be a certain way and not having them as we want them to be that that is the source of our suffering. Consequently, suffering is a result of the negative thoughts we are having about our unrealized desires.
What are the causes of my suffering?
How many times have we heard: If only they didn’t do or they did this, or if this didn’t happen or did happen, or when I have more money or less debt…….etc. ….then I wouldn’t feel as bad as I do! My problems would be solved and my life would be a lot easier and better if…..
Well, I’ve got news for you: If you are relying on other people, or events outside of yourself, to make you feel better and end your suffering, you are never, ever, going to be happy and satisfied.
Why, because other people care more about themselves than they do about you…. And so they are more interested in sorting out their own problems than yours……
And…. mother nature doesn’t care if you want it to be sunny next Saturday when you take the family to the beach for a picnic……She will just do whatever it is that she does, whenever she wants to do it, without considering your wellbeing in the slightest!
“The root of suffering is attachment.” – Buddha
Everyone who is emotionally attached to a particular outcome, who doesn’t get the results they want, is suffering to varying degrees. And all because things are not working out exactly as we want them to be.
It’s not necessarily because other people and mother nature have it in for us, it’s just that this is an integral part of being a human, living within societies, and being on a planet that has its own set of rules. And there is nothing we can do about these things……
These conditions (being human, part of a society, on a planet that has her own mind) is awesome in so many ways and gives us much pleasure and many reasons to be happy. AND…… it also gives us plenty to complain about if we want. Things like…..
Some of the reasons we suffer include:
1) We wish our lives, our reality, was different than it is. We don’t have enough money, too few good friends, no supportive family/co-workers, etc. So we feel we are hard done by or missing out on something’s that we see others enjoying.
2) We are resisting what comes our way. If it rains when we don’t want it to, or our friend is too busy to meet with us today, or we need to stay late at work to get a project finished……again, we are presented with situations that are not our choice and we resent the fact that reality is different to what we want to be doing.
3) We may want things to remain the same and not change. We feel secure in the way things are because we are comfortable. But what if our partner of twenty-plus years suddenly finds a new group of friends to hang out with at work, and we are not invited to join in? We may lose the security we have become complacent with. Change brings uncertainty and requires us to move beyond our comfort zones and adapt in unknown ways.
4) We may choose to play the victim when things don’t go our way. In this case, it is our own choice of thoughts that directly cause us to suffer even though we try to blame others or circumstances and events outside of ourselves.
5) We put other people’s thoughts, ideas, and wishes before our own. Instead of doing what we want or consider is right, we will go along with others who influence us against our better judgment. This causes an internal conflict within us, and causes us to feel ‘not so good’….. we suffer as a result.
“The benefits of the accomplished journey cannot be weighed in terms of perfect moments but in terms of how this journey affects and changes our character.” – Ella Maillart, adventurer
6) We may choose to cling to an ‘identity self’ that we have formed. Maybe we believe we are not the type of person who is adventurous. So when our friends decide to try hand gliding, we refuse to go because we consider it dangerous. So they go without us and have a great time……. We suffer because of our own self-imposed limitations.
7) We may not be living ‘authentically.’ If our words and actions are contrary to our deep-seated beliefs, we will suffer. Maybe we are gay but are too afraid of what others will think about us, so we pretend to be straight. The internal conflict will eat us up on the inside, and we will suffer.
8) We suffer because we see ourselves as separate from others and nature. Therefore, we view things as ‘happening to us’ instead of knowing that we are ‘connected to’ and part of the things that are happening around us and to us.
9) If our thoughts are focused on either past regrets or we are unsure of the future…. we will be suffering in the present moment. It seems a bit silly really to be suffering now for something that already happened that we can’t change, or for something that may or may not happen in our future. However, the reality is that this is exactly what many of us spend considerable time and thought energy doing!
10) We suffer when we view other people, ourselves, or events and circumstances with a negative bias. In this instance, we could say it is our personalities, (the way we view the world) that cause us to suffer…. not the other people or events, but our perception of them. Therefore we are the cause of our suffering, (madness really!)
Suffering is an inside job – a very personal internal experience!
If you analyze the ten points on why we feel we are suffering above, you will notice that there is a common theme. Our dissatisfaction or emotional suffering is not caused by actual pain, but is caused by the meaning we give to our ‘pain.’ In other words, it is a result of the thoughts we have concerning what is happening or not happening.
Of course, I’m not talking about things like sickness, disease, and terrible accidents. With these things, yes, we can and do experience real pain and suffering. But even here, we can help ourselves in the same ways as when we help ourselves with any of our other emotional pains like those listed above.
So, if we are far from achieving our goals and dreams, we will have lots of negative self-talk that makes us question our abilities and our lives. This will naturally lead to feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, depression, fear of failure, and fear of not being good enough….. all emotions that cause us suffering.
Maybe we thought that we deserved the promotion at work, but someone else got it. Or maybe we thought it would be a good idea to get a puppy to entertain the kids. However, it ends up chewing all the furniture and then we have to take it for a walk every day even if we don’t want to. The reasons for our stress, anxiousness, depression don’t matter. It’s all suffering, and it’s coming from our thoughts about what is happening.
“Expectation kills. Just go with the flow, you might be surprised when something better comes along in an unexpected way.” – Joyram Shaw
If we are anxious when thinking about our future it creates negative feelings/emotions NOW. This in turn creates more negative thoughts and more negative emotions. And this does not benefit us in any way at all. Instead, we just suffer… for what?…… something that hasn’t happened and may never happen???
The level of our suffering (created not because of things that are happening outside of us, but because of the thoughts that are predominantly traversing our minds) can be very different from others under the same external circumstances. This is because we all have different ‘mind programs’ and different expectations for our lives.
So, if another person can be relaxed and at peace with the same event that causes us to stress out and lose it, what does this say about us?
And this brings us to THE NUMBER ONE BEST WAY TO LIMIT OR ELIMINATE OUR EMOTIONAL SUFFERING:
It is us that has to change…. and the change we have to make is in the way we are thinking. And I have written several posts on how we can do this already including: Why are so many people suffering? and Do Our Thoughts Create Our Reality? (6 Sure Ways To THINK Your Life Better)
Remember stuff is always going to be happening. Stuff that we have no control over and no right to demand control over. Other people, nature, events, and circumstances outside of ourselves are doing their own stuff and they will continue to do so, whether we like it or not.
So get used to it, get over it, and get on with focusing your energy and incredible mind power where it will do the most good…..
Sort your thoughts and emotions out, and do your best to make the most out of your lives….because, really, what other choice do you have……. Either enjoy more of the moments we are gifted with each day, OR, continue to suffer!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post, 10 reasons why you are suffering, and would encourage you to check out my next post How Can I End My Suffering to learn more ways of dealing with, and getting over our suffering.
Shared with love and respect for all souls who choose to play the game of life!