By: Dane Snyder LPC, CADC
Upon reading the title of this blog many may realize that throughout their lives, they have
been feeling not just the pain or hurt from a past experience, but something perhaps more
intense. After reflecting on this, an even more profound concept may dawn on you; you’ve
experienced these deep feelings, but have never been able to verbalize them in the way that you
have wanted to. The title of this blog was taken from a chapter in Judy Tatelbaum’s book, “You
Don’t Have to Suffer.”
Stuck in our suffering
The best example of this is when she describes suffering as prolonged hurt. In times
when we experience deep emotion, it seems we have difficulty explaining how we feel to another
person. Perhaps this is representative of the “stuck” that Judy refers to when a person allows
their suffering to become a habit. Hurt is Inevitable-Suffering is not; as simple as a concept that
this is, how many of us have made this distinction before? On a basic level, most of us can
always tell if we are happy or sad. However, our insight into our feelings seems to end there a
lot of the time.
Transitioning our emotions
For many of us, we rarely make the transition into understanding when our
emotions climb or fall to another level. For some reason we seem to just settle for grasping the
ambiguous fact that we feel this way or that way; we never tell ourselves, “ok, my hurt is now
becoming suffering, or my happiness and success is now turning into confidence.” When we get
more accurate with our assessment of our feelings, we get more accurate with our assessment of
what we want for ourselves. This can be extremely helpful, as it introduces the idea that our
emotions can take on new meanings; that there is a considerable difference between “hurt”,
“pain”, “sadness”, and “suffering.”
Developing this awareness can be of great use when combating life challenges. Having this
understanding allows one to put things into perspective, thus allowing them to have the
opportunity to cope and grieve in healthier ways.
The choice is yours
This bodes an important question; do we have a choice in deciding how much we suffer?
Hopefully this question triggers something inside of you to examine this thought more closely?
In her book, I particularly like how Judy suggested to give yourself a “time limit, rather than to
wait and hope for our suffering to magically disappear.” Have you allowed your suffering to
become a habit? Have you gotten “stuck” in your pain, and have you tried to understand every
detail of the event? It’s easy to allow stubbornness to take over at times, and attempt to find
resolutions through logic, reason, explanation, and will power; this is very human. However,
determination and will power don’t always pull us through or get us to where we need to be.
When we come to the realization that we must take responsibility for addressing our own
suffering, we may see that we have been misdirecting our strength, energy, and determination.
This enables us to apply these principles to future loss or grief experiences. In doing so, the hope
is that we understand that we do have this choice, always…… every day.