Does overcoming suffering arise from being conscious of living it?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

Our way of living seems to us to be the most natural way of doing things.  We rarely ask ourselves if it is the only way: with our heads always full of wandering thoughts, negative emotions, troubles, a certain amount of anxiety, stress, fears, etc.  It is not that everything in life is negative, but it is the thing that proves to be the most troubling.

This is something quite normal and we know that it is rare to meet someone who does not live this way.  It is so normal that we accept it as an inevitable part of life.

Of course living throws up complicated situations, but perhaps you have not realised that part of this malaise depends solely on you.  That is the crux of the question.

Some of our attitudes inevitably make us feel worse when faced with a difficult situation.  For example, when a relationship breaks down or somebody who is important to you dies, what happens?  Normally we feel a lot of pain and that is unavoidable.  But there is something that is avoidable: my attitude in denying the facts.  What does that mean?  When I say to myself “I don’t deserve this!” or “don’t go, don’t leave me!”  My attitude is of resistance towards what is happening, I do not want it, I become annoyed, I try to hold on to what I had.  It is that attitude of denial that keeps the natural pain of loss alive.   This is something that we normally do not notice, it seems to us that the pain that we are feeling is just as a result of the external situation.  We are not even aware of it.

This is just one example, but I am sure that you can find many others where you cling to something that has happened, but that you would rather had not happened.

However, it is only when you realise that the suffering that you are experiencing is self-inflicted that you will be free to let go of this attitude and leave the suffering behind.  Take note.  You will be able to overcome your suffering when you become aware of your attitudes and fears.  There are other factors that contribute to your suffering, but we can start here.  Be aware of when you express regret about something or when you resist how things are developing.  Pay attention to your attitude of resistance and denial of the situation.  Because, if the situation is irreversible, what point is there in your resistance?  Will you be able to turn the clock back?  No, right? So, what can you do?

I suggest that you observe those moments of resistance towards those things that you do not want.  Observe whether or not you can really do something.  If the response is affirmative, do it, but if it is not, ask yourself honestly what you are doing by resisting and what you are hoping to achieve by resisting.

Probably, it is your fears about the new situation that are making you try to resist.  Confront the fear of change, name it and look within yourself with affection, since there is nothing bad about it.  It is normal to feel fear of change, but it is worse to reject it, since in life everything involves change and what are you going to do, spend your life resisting it?  That is not living.  It is not worth it, is it?  You are strong, let go of these attitudes and live each moment that arises openly, without expecting it to be different, without resisting.  It will make you feel better and your mental and emotional health will thank you for it.

“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”   (R.Tagore).