The thought and fear of suffering is often worse than the suffering itself.

Can you relate?

We do not like to suffer. Our brains are pre-programmed to keep us alive, to avoid danger, to survive. Our natural human instinct is to seek out nothing but happiness, while trying not to feel anything unpleasant.

Underneath the desire to cling onto pleasant feelings, there may be an underlying fear of suffering. We might struggle with the reality that suffering is a part of life. We may create additional stress or worry trying to escape it, deny it, push it down, distract ourselves, avoid it. by It can be a hard habit to break.

Suffering does not only have to be a significant trauma. We can experience suffering from thoughts of doing an assignment, traffic, slow Wi-fi, a breakup, ruminating, a prediction etc. It can be real or imagined.

This does not mean we have to constantly expose ourselves to scenarios of great pain. Depending where we are at in life, exposing ourselves to our deepest fears too often or too quickly may not be the best option for us.

However, there are other times where if we constantly stay in our comfort zone of avoiding challenges, our world may get smaller and we perhaps miss out on opportunities of growth, and perhaps even joy later.

In states of fear, logic and rational thinking are hard (if not impossible) to engage in. We may forget that we are resilient beings. We may fail to recall that we have withstood many other difficulties in life. We might forget that we somehow always find a way to get through. We may also fail to rationally think that any emotion, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is fluid – it constantly changes its shape, its duration, its intensity, its effect. As much as it really feels like it in the moment, nothing does last forever.

As we can begin to let go of the unrealistic standard of striving for nothing but happiness, we can begin to explore, be curious and let go of such fears.

If you did not live with such fears of suffering, how would you live your life?

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