When I am out in the world, I feel like a sophisticated, adult, mature, and generally well-rounded person. I feel good. Awesome. Exceptional at times, even. But, as soon as I visit my parents, through no fault of their own, but all because of the ideas and prejudices that I have cultivated in my mind palace, I feel like I am a child again, who doesn’t know what she’s doing, and has no clue where she’s going in life.
I will go in, knowing my goals, and aspirations, and having everything set up perfectly in my head. And then I’ll come out feeling like the biggest failure ever.
Of course, this has all to do with the fact that my parents (thankfully) have really high aspirations and standards for me, standards that perhaps, I shall never ever reach in my life. But, that means, that I always keep on working hard, pushing myself, and my boundaries to get higher and higher. This makes me awesome at life, but it also gets me scared to go back home, sometimes. Just sometimes.
It’s My Aversion To Suffering That Hurts More, Hermann Hesse Reminded Me
As is the case, the universe sent me solace. My heart which was beating hard, and storing all of this fear, and anxiety, needed some balm. It needed peace. And that came in the form of words from Hermann Hesse. The quote that I read came from somewhere, I don’t remember now, where. But, it was exactly the words that I needed to hear in that moment of time.
“You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, a single power, a single salvation…and that is called loving. Well, then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. It is your aversion that hurts, nothing else.” ― Hermann Hesse
Oh my god!! Don’t those words just speak to your soul, deep to that being that sits inside of you watching your every move?
I read those words, sitting down (thank God) in an office in Koh Phangan, Thailand, and instantly, I had goosebumps. The hair on my body stood up in appreciation, as the fear and anxiety in my heart, dissipated in a heartbeat.
I knew what I had to do. I had to learn to love my suffering. In fact, that’s exactly what this post is all about.
I Got More Anxious The More Anxious I Got – The Suffering Loop
Do you notice sometimes you will think something terrible, or you will have a premonition that something horrible is going to happen to you? And then, you try to be calm about it, but the more time passes by, the bigger monster ball of anxiety and fear this thought becomes, and eventually, it takes over your entire mind palace. You can think of nothing else. You are obsessed.
Also, the more anxious you feel about it, the more anxious you feel. If that makes sense. It’s like your anxiety, your suffering, exponentially doubles itself every two minutes, like a virus that is invading your mind, body, and spirit.
You’ve heard the statistic, that we have about 40,000 negative thoughts a day. But more than that, it takes ten positive thoughts to negate one negative one. Which means, the more negativity (anxiety, fear, doubt, etc) that pervades your brain, the harder it becomes to stop the ‘Suffering Loop’.
This is how the loop goes. You have a negative thought. Or you think about something that makes you suffer. Like my thought about visiting my parents, and worrying about feeling like a failure after. I had that negative thought, and I started my suffering loop. The more I suffered, the more I wanted to avoid my suffering. The more I hated my suffering, the more I thought about my suffering, the bigger it became. And in turn, the more I suffered.
The loop went on and on, until I became so anxious that I could barely breath, read, or do anything fun.
It was like the loop was never-ending, in the past (I’ll talk more about how you can stop this loop in its track later in the post).
Are We Creating Our World With Our Suffering Thoughts?
The funny thing is that as soon as I decided I am going to enjoy myself with my parents, that I am doing perfectly fine, and I have nothing to fear or worry about, I felt myself calming down. But more than that, I told myself, I am a confident, smart, successful woman, who has nothing to worry about what her parents say about her.
As soon as I met up with my parents, I noticed that their attitude towards me was different. They had only good things to say to me. They were proud of me, and they showed it in everything they said and did.
Now, this is the true question. Did I create my suffering in the previous instance by expecting my parents to put me down? And did I create this new world, by learning to love my suffering, and in turn, eliminating it, because I created a world where I have no suffering, and my parents believe I am the successful person that I believe I am??
I mean, where does the creation end then? Perhaps, we are all creating our suffering by perpetuating it in our heads, and then creating it in the outside world.
Maybe that’s the whole point here. Love your suffering, and in turn, you will create a world in which your suffering doesn’t even actually exist. Do this enough times, and all of a sudden, all of your life is suffering-free. Almost.
Replace Negative Thought With A Positive One, Immediately
Now, I wouldn’t be a good compatriot on this journey of life, if I didn’t share a couple of awesome things that stops this damn suffering loop in its tracks. All of you know how much I love meditation for all of its benefits. And here’s one more reason to love meditation more than ever.
As soon as I feel myself going off onto this suffering loop, I instantly take a few deep breaths, and recalibrate my thought patterns. I tell myself, I am not going to go off on this suffering loop roller coaster, and I am going to come back to equilibrium.
I do that first by installing a positive (alternative) thought in place of the negative one. You know that any empty space in your apartment or your mind will be occupied by clutter, if we don’t actually consciously place something there.
Thus, we install a positive thought into our head. Instead of thinking, “Oh god, my parents are going to make me suffer by making me feel like crap,” I think an alternative thought. “Oh man, I am so excited I get to visit my parents, who are getting old, and who love me so much. They are the reason, I am able to live and work in Thailand, without any fears, and with so much potential. I am still at the beginning of my life journey, and I have so much more to do and so much more to accomplish. This is just the beginning, and I cannot wait to share all of my awesomeness with them when I go to visit them.”
Some Advice About Negativity
Let me give you some valuable advice. Do not let a negative thought take root in your mind. Not even for a second. Not even for a second, folks.
Negative thoughts are extremely potent. In my opinion, they are even more deadly than arsenic in their ability to disable and disarm and kill us. It is extremely crucial that you stop negative thoughts in their tracks as soon as possible. I mean that.
I have this thing where I used to use a rubber band or elastic tied around my wrist, to stop myself from thinking negative thoughts instantly.
But now, I just replace it with a positive thought. Instead of following the negative thought on its destructive path, I bring in my secret weapon, Gratitude. I start thinking about all of the many things I am grateful for, instead of my negative thought.
I’m so happy I am alive. I am so happy I am so creative, and I have time to focus on my creativity… And so on.
This way the negative thought does not have time or space to take root in your mind, and it cannot have any effect on you at all!
Meditation Cuts Off The Suffering Loop Dead In Its Tracks
Alright, so you have cut off the negative thought in its track, and you’ve used your secret weapon, Gratitude, to bring in positivity. So why do you need meditation then?
Well, before, I meditated, I wasn’t aware of myself, and my thoughts as much as I am right now.
So I would spend hours and hours (sometimes even days) in the suffering loop, without realizing that I was even in a suffering loop. It was horrendous. It destroyed me completely.
I was spellbound by my negativity and I didn’t even know it!! (This is the issue with a lot of negative people out there, and that’s why meditation is crucial).
As soon as I started meditating, I started noticing when I would go into these negative spirals of depression, negativity, and madness. At first, I noticed it, but I didn’t stop myself from going into the depressive spiral. I stuck with it, and I didn’t interrupt it, because I didn’t know how, and I wasn’t advanced enough in my thought processes.
But now, the more I meditate, the easier it is for me to notice a negative thought pop up immediately, and thus, I am able to interrupt it asap. It has been one of those things that has absolutely changed up my life.
Don’t Just Ignore Your Suffering Like A Fool, Embrace It Like A Guru
In the past, when I was into all of that positive thinking jazz, I would be told over and over again by self-help books, and Gurus, that I had to ignore my suffering. Just ignore it, and it will all go away.
What the hell?
It doesn’t go that way. In fact, the more you ignore something, the more it grows and festers in the corner, like a slime ball, getting bigger, and stronger. The more we ignore our negativity, the stronger, and more bitter it becomes. So much so, that we become so afraid of it, that we can’t even talk about it. That is when it becomes one of those shadows that triggers us every time someone even speaks about that particular issue.
Love Your Suffering
What we need to do is love our suffering.
How do we do that? Well, the way I do it, is by realizing and reflecting that every single time I have suffered, I have gained so much from my suffering. My suffering has made me stronger, faster, better, self-actualized, and the best version of myself on a daily basis.
If I didn’t suffer, I wouldn’t be the awesome human being I am right now (humble is not my middle name).
I love my suffering and I want to embrace it every single day.
Ironically, The More You Love Suffering, The Less It Shows Up
Of course, ironically, the more you love your suffering, the less and less it appears in your life. It’s like that introverted uncle, that you love and adore to death, but he never shows up, because he’s at home recharging from all of the socializing.
Isn’t it odd though? I was afraid of suffering before, and it showed up every day, as if by clockwork. And now that I love it so much that I want it, and I know it will make me grow, and learn, and develop, it shows up very occasionally, and not in such huge spades as it used to be before.
It’s ironic, and annoying to me. If I had only known this secret earlier on in life. How much further ahead I would be now… It’s kind of scary to think about that.
But, now, I share this knowledge with you, because if you are just starting out, and if you are suffering like mad, this is the key for you. You can eliminate or reduce your suffering immensely. It is possible. Absolutely.
If I Can, You Can
In fact, if I can do it, without any sophistication or tools, then you can do it for sure.
Now, I am not saying at all that you are going to become one of those Zen human beings that never suffers, and you are going to win the Noble Peace Prize for zero suffering days. But I am telling you that you are going to notice your negativity and suffering as soon as it pops up. And that, you will be able to deal with it right away by replacing it, so that you are able to reduce the amount of suffering in your life.
If that isn’t worth the cost of this entire post (which is free, by the way), then I don’t know what else to tell ya.
Finally, I want to say that it’s easy to write these words out, of course. But it’s a longer situation when it comes down to practicing it in our lives. It took me forever to get to this point where I am right now. I mean, forever.
Seven or eight years of constant practice, and I still falter all the time. I backtrack, and slip and slide towards where I was before. It’s a lifetime practice. It’s never going to end.
Let’s go on this beautiful journey together, shall we?