The number ten spot in this year’s countdown is held by a mildly controversial piece on suffering. It offers an explanation of how the acceptance of pain can lead to a reduction in suffering. It attempts to delineate the differences between what has actually happened to us, and what we choose to think about what happened.
Since these are decided by popularity I’m probably the least informed person on why this particular posting was shared so much more than others. I know that, unfortunately in our culture, depression and anxiety are all too common. And in the vast majority of cases this does not need to be so. I’ve worked with a large number of clients—including some that were quite hostile to my approach at the start, and yet all are now happy. Now they are able to understand that what I originally told them was in fact true. Our misery requires our participation. Rather than unconsciously cooperating with the bad feelings, I simply teach people to become conscious so they are aware enough to choose to redirect their energy to enjoyable experiences.
I hope you will join my readers and students and become aware of this underlying truth. Through Understanding and Acceptance you can largely free yourself from the cycle of suffering. Who knows? Maybe this post was popular because more than a few people were actually able to see their own role and their corresponding opportunity. Whatever it was, it was enough to make it into the Top Ten.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in this year’s countdown I now give to you:
2013’s Blog of the Year #10:
When you put the pill in your mouth you’re saying it. When you list what you can’t do you’re saying it. When you want to be healthier you’re saying it. When you tell people you’re healing you’re saying it. These are all just disguised ways to say to yourself; I’m sick, I’m weak, I’m incapable. You’re literally crippling yourself with those thoughts and actions. That kind of self-perception is an easy way to lose friends and lovers because it is thoroughly unpleasant to be around. Not just for them—for you too. So if you’re in pain, please don’t add any suffering. Pain people have plenty of patience for. Suffering not so much.
I have no idea how many of you might need psychological medications, but I do know that most people I meet have no awareness whatsoever of their own consciousness and so they cannot take responsibility for its behaviour even though they must face the consequences. When I listen to people’s “problems,” I can often literally hear them processing their lives in very unhealthy, unproductive ways that would very obviously lead to mental distress. But the problem isn’t the chemicals. It’s which chemicals were requested.
Let’s say two people stumble onto exactly the same great idea for a business and both realize it immediately. One sees the benefit, but in discussing the idea with herself or with others she focuses on all of the reasons it may not work. She focuses on what may go wrong. The other woman sees the same benefits, sees the very same challenges, but she says, “how would someone get past challenges like that, because I really want that benefit?” And the verb of that is what causes her to succeed while the other person is sitting still discussing their limitations and describing the active lady as being lucky. It’s not that the problem was hard, it was that one woman never did engage with resolving it. She just told us a series of justifying narratives about why she couldn’t.
I’ll start my life again once I feel better about Blah—because that’s what you are doing. That’s your verb. You’re sitting still and imagining things being different. Which is why that day never comes. Because you didn’t do the things to make anything different. You just told yourself stories about how life would be after you’ve changed. Each day is something you actively create. So better times cannot be created until you transfer your energy from explaining how it could be better, to actually saying the words or taking the actions that actually make it better. Get it?
You don’t want to be healthy, you Be healthy. You enact health. The guy who wins the Gold Medal at the Olympics—the guy in the wheelchair—well it hurt for him to lose his legs too. He’s got real limitations that are far greater than most people. He might even be in pain. But he didn’t sit around listing all of the things he couldn’t do anymore. Instead he said “I am a vital, living breathing Human Being and I still love sports and I want to find one I enjoy that I can excel at Now.” And then he just kept being the person he was before he lost his legs.
He’s still an athlete with those same attitudes and drives. And his path emerged from him simply following his nature and ignoring any self-critical analysis or judgment. He didn’t focus on what he lost or didn’t gain. Instead he simply saw his situation as an opportunity. And that’s because it always is. The same goes for your life. The big question is, what are you going to spend your opportunity on? Are you going to churn thoughts about your misfortunes? Or will you use the very same energy but focus it on the things you are grateful for in the Present Moment? The choice is yours. But one is heaven and one is hell.
No one owed you a good life. But you were definitely given all of the tools you need to create one. I hope you’re choosing to do that in your Now.
much love, s
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.