• Everybody Hurts

  • It's true. No one goes through life without getting hurt, physically and emotionally. No matter how privileged we are, we all suffer heartbreak now and again. But you would do well to realize that hurt and suffering are not the same thing. Hurt is a fact of life, but suffering is an attitude and a choice. 

    So how do you not suffer when you get hurt? Not by being stoic and hiding it all away. That will only shift the hurt to your body, causing tension and other physical symptoms. Grieving is a part of processing hurt. But suffering is different. Suffering is more like getting stuck in hurt. It is a mental process that won't allow you to move beyond the hurt. The main cause of suffering, and why it can be called it a choice, is that we won't accept the situation as it is. We get stuck wishing things were different, in blaming ourselves or other people. If only we had done this. If only we had said that. These thoughts make us suffer because they do not help solve anything, while at the same time they prevent us from taking any steps that might alleviate the situation. 

    Next time you're hurting and get yourself stuck in the 'if only's and the 'it's not fair's and the 'why me's, realize that these thoughts are not going to change the situation in any way. It happened. It's done. It is what it is. And once you have accepted that, you can move on to the next question: 'Now what?' What are the steps you can take to make things better for you? You may not like these steps, which can be an important cause of getting stuck in suffering, but if you face them head on it often becomes clear what needs to be done. You may owe someone an apology. You may have to let go of something you value, whether it is a physical thing or an image you have of yourself or someone else. You may have to find compassion or forgiveness. Whatever it is: you have found the means to end your suffering.

    First published November 2009