What is the difference between pain and suffering and is it possible to live free from suffering?
That is what I want to talk with you about today.
I want you to answer this question. “Do You Want to Be FREE?”.
The overwhelming majority of you will say “YES, OF COURSE!”, but what does that truly mean, to commit to your freedom?
It means that you are going to be required to face all that you have been working to avoid, you will be forced to confront those uncomfortable feelings you have been rejecting and separating yourself from your whole life.
We tend to have this fantasy ideal in our mind about what our life will look like if we can just find that one thing that heals us or completes us and makes us whole. We’re under this false impression that if we can just find the right partner, diet, job, yoga class, or meditation practice that we will finally be happy and live our perfect life.
You can so easily spend your whole life rejecting and avoiding the present moment and your emotions and feelings, searching for a fantasy that doesn’t really exist.
This perpetual circle of searching and seeking and finding that human beings find ourselves in, our focus and awareness on what is out there that can potentially heal us from our suffering keeps us stuck in this continual cycle of rejection of what is. We are trapped in trying to find something outside of ourselves that will give us the answers to what we need to live a life of freedom.
The whole illusion has this quality of dreamy ness about it, it’s like living in a fairytale, living in a fantasy state and that can be addictive. However, as we get older that fantasy will break your heart because the freedom you are wanting so badly doesn’t seem to be within your reach.
We are stuck in this vicious cycle of rejecting where we are in the present moment and searching for something beyond ourselves that will fix us.
Why Are We Addicted to Suffering?
I am going to make the bold statement that 100% of our suffering comes from our rejection and our resistance to the human experience we are having in the present moment.
We live in this state of rejection of what is and who we are and our suffering is not a reaction or the result of the thing we are or are not finding, but from our attachment to looking out there for the better way and rejecting where we are and who we are right now.
There are two ways in which human beings deal with challenges or pain, we either resist or submit.
Resisting is doing whatever we can to avoid not feeling and numb out.
Submission is giving up and giving into resignation and losing ourselves in it.
They are both the same thing, in both behaviors we are not being with what is.
Both of these are a form of resistance and escapism, and when we resist it persists and we can build our entire personalities on strategies of trying to escape the pain we carry within us.
This is really the nature of addiction. When people asked me what my drug of choice was I would tell them it’s “escapism”. I wanted to do literally anything I could to escape the uncomfortableness that lay within me. I used whatever I could to numb myself, drugs, men, sex, dieting, extreme exercise to avoid what was truly going on inside of me.
In this constant running and need to escape my inner emotions and life I created an entire lifetime worth of suffering for myself.
I was resisting with all I could and I went back to what Buddha said, that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.
If you want to be free and come home to you who you truly are, you need to be ok with getting really uncomfortable. By bringing presence and awareness to who you are right here and right now you can face this discomfort and be with what is! It is then that you can begin to truly heal.
Fixing and healing are not the same thing because when we are on this hamster wheel we are constantly looking for a way to “fix” ourselves. When we can bring awareness and presence back into who we are right now, and be with what is with an unconditional commitment to one’s self, that is how we can heal.
When pain and uncomfortableness move through you it is painful and uncomfortable, it can be excruciating, but it does pass.
The first step to freedom from suffering is to acknowledge and bring awareness to whether you are living in this perpetual cycle of searching for things out there while rejecting where you are and who you are. It’s realizing that you’re living in a perpetual cycle of “I am not enough” and figuring out how to free yourself from this deep-rooted belief.
So when you bring your awareness to how you are living your life and you allow what needs to be felt to move through you, you can develop an unconditional and loving relationship with yourself.
This pandemic has caused us to feel and be in these really deeply uncomfortable circumstances, and what is being revealed is what needs to be healed.
We can allow what is coming up within us to emerge and we can judge it and make our feelings wrong and try to escape it, or we can really look at what is being revealed and feel it, heal it and bring in this unconditional love to it.
That is the first step to bring our awareness to what is. The more we are willing to BE uncomfortable the more healing we can receive.
The second step is to figure out what meaning we are making from these experiences we are having?
If we feel anger inside of us and then we start to tell ourselves this entire story about who we are with this anger, about how it’s evil or how it makes us unlovable, that is the issue, not the anger itself. The anger is not the problem, it’s the narrative we are telling ourselves about it.
We create this entire story about this experience that is moving through us and think that’s who we are. We might have shame but when we turn that shame into feeling shameful that is when we make that emotion not useful but harmful.
The second step to freedom from suffering is when you are able to start being with what is.
How much can you allow that experience to move through you while being compassionate?
Being aware of the narrative and the story you are telling yourself about it and then bringing compassion and love there.
The experiences that move through us are not the problem, they are just part of being human. As humans, we have these human experiences, but the problem occurs based off of what meaning you are deriving from these experiences.
When you can bring awareness to what you are telling yourself about your emotion or experience, it is then that you can begin the process of dissolving the attachment to that story.
When we can observe the narrative that we are telling ourselves we are already starting to create more space between ourselves and the story and releasing the power it has over us.
So if you answer YES to the question “Do You Want to Be Free?”. Then you need to be willing to get really uncomfortable with the uncomfortableness and all of the human life experiences that move through you.
How can you bring unconditional love and compassion to those experiences?
This is a lifelong journey so don’t rush yourself to “HEAL” and then get frustrated when you still find yourself unable to simply allow feelings to move through you.
Remember that there are 2 steps.
- Make a commitment every day to be with what is.
- Be willing and able to have an unconditional relationship with what is and not create a story around what you are feeling.
You must make these choices every single day to bring love and compassion to yourself. It is then that we are able to open up the door and the pathway to waking up every single day to the possibility of truly achieving freedom.
Our maturation occurs not from finding the answers but in the questions we ask ourselves and the inquiry.
How does your heart feel, how does your heart feel if you are willing to release the narrative and the story you are telling yourself about who you are?
Take that question into your lives, how does your heart feel if you will release the story and narrative about who you are?
Ask yourself and feel into the answer.
Your freedom is not reliant on finding anything or getting it right or getting it wrong.
Your freedom is available to you right now and you are the only one who is able to give it to yourself.
Your willingness and your commitment to being with what is and your decision to be in an unconditional relationship with it, bringing love and compassion to those parts of you that need it most.
That is how you free yourself from suffering and truly achieve freedom in your life.
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