Suffering: Duration length is up to you

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It is only when we think about something that the suffering begins.

Consider: if you didn’t yet know your loved one was in a deadly car accident, would you be heartbroken?

Awareness and the application of attention are internal responses to an external event. This, in theory, means we get to consider and select our responses. In the throes of fresh trauma and grief, our response can feel involuntary. This is part of how we cope.

The miracle (and magic and hard part) of being a human is the broad spectrum of emotion that we can experience. Depth of emotion is what offers texture, meaning and context to our experience of being human.

Ideally, we will have an appropriate response to trauma, grief, heartache, and pain. In the midst of a tragic life event, perma-smiles and happy 24/7 would not be appropriate. It might land you in the psych hospital for an evaluation.

 

A year (or two decades) (or right now) later, we can examine our daily thoughts and beliefs regarding the trauma. Once we get a little distance from the devastating event, we can more easily evaluate where we are in the process of healing. What conclusions did we draw around the trauma? Are our post-trauma beliefs helping us cope with life as it is now? Are they supporting our healing and moving on? Or are they preventing that or keeping us stuck in limbo between living and just existing? Often there’s an upgraded version we could adopt that better assists who and where we are today.

Just like a pair of socks, beliefs and thoughts have a functional lifespan. Are you wearing ratty, thread-bare, hole-y thoughts around in your life? No shame. They served you at one time, but now you can try on new ones and quit having that mental “toe poking through the sock” feeling all day every day.

Your ongoing, sustained suffering does not bring people back into your life or improve anyone’s circumstances. However, it does degrade the quality of your own.

Aside from the Earth-shattering, course-altering life shakers, what about the daily suffering we endure from ALL the smaller things: shitty drivers, stink eyes, rude people, flakes, a rough menstrual day?

Could you decide to observe with curiosity the allocation of your daily suffering time? A favorite of mine is using filters to poke holes into the amount of energy I throw at something that pisses me off, feels unfair, or has me in tears. 

Another is to have a small arsenal of past uncomfortable situations handy that led me to something better, as a reminder that things are not always as they seem in the moment.

Invent new interpretations to negative events. Write out every way you can conceive of to put a positive spin on a challenging situation. The act of writing begins to loosen them and reprogram your automatic response. 

Download this Focus Sheet

Negative and painful thoughts are fertilized by repeated recall; same with positive thoughts. Which would you like to be feeding?

Any energy being allocated to negativity has the potential to be reallocated in a manner that serves your wellbeing, helps others, and helps you to live a vibrant, authentic life.

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