Friday, September 21, 2007

Some Thoughts on Suffering

Suffering is a part of life. Unfortunately, even if you do everything right (which, in reality, isn't possible), sometimes bad things happen. But, we can mitigate our suffering by keeping our mind flexible enough to look for the lesson, which is what this experience can teach us; and to accept that sometimes, life is not fair.

The thing to remember is that we do not suffer in a vacuum. There are people all around us who are also suffering. We have all had unfortunate experiences.

The real question is, do we allow the suffering to twist and stunt us, or do we use it as an opportunity for growth? And what is our attitude toward the person or people who 'delivered' the suffering to us?

Common thought gives us an eye for an eye. To hate, as we have been hated. The problem with that is that carrying around that hatred poisons our bodies, minds, and souls. We know this, yet we persist in doing it anyway, because it is not fair or right that the 'enemy' did [fill in offense here].

A different train of thought is to be grateful (yes, that is not a typographical error, bear with me here) for the person who hates you, the person that bothers you, the company that does not appreciate your business. What!! Why?!? I can hear you asking.

Because the 'enemy' gives you a rare and valuable opportunity to work on developing the character traits of patience and tolerance in yourself. Let's face it, it is very easy to be patient and kind (generally speaking) with the people we like, who are nice to us, who agree with us. The true test of our character is how we deal with the people who are *not* nice to us, who treat us badly, who ignore and abuse us.

This is not a 'be a doormat' train of thought. Balance in all things is the key here. Are we patient with the slow clerk at the post office window, or do we let our annoyance be known far and wide? If someone says something hurtful to us, do we give back what we get?

Or, do we stop, and think, and realize that perhaps this persons' bad treatment of us was not a personal thing, but simply something that comes out of whatever is going on in their head... so you don't have to get caught up in the negativity, and you can let it go, both with them, and in your head (there is no point in 'letting it go' with the person, and then spend forever angrily replaying the scene in your head).

Achieving this balance requires that you live with your heart, mind, and soul turned on, that you think before you react, and that you think about your experiences later on, to analyze how you can work toward achieving your goals of strengthening those character muscles. In the beginning, it is difficult, but the exercise gets easier with time and practice.

The other thing to remember is that should you decide to cultivate this attitude, you will be different from those around you. You may be singled out for ridicule, or persecution. But that does not mean that what you are trying to achieve is wrong.

I'm working on this myself; and while I don't usually vent my spleen at people who annoy and hurt me, I do have a tendency to turn it inward, because (I think) that I must have done something to deserve it. Which, was often not true, I discovered later. The offending person was going through something else, and took it out on me, the unfortunate soul standing there at the time. So, I wasted all that time being upset over nothing, when I should have simply let it slide out of my consciousness.

This writing is simply the beginnings of what I'm mulling over about this topic. I'll try to remember to post anything further that comes to mind, as I work on it.
©2007 LaVeda H. Mason All Rights Reserved.


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