Suffering is Optional?

Suffering is optional?


I’ve seen the quote above dozens of times on Facebook and Instagram. Usually it’s anonymous, sometimes some would-be wise person claims it as their own.

And whilst the meaning is clear… we chose how much we suffer because of the inevitable difficulties and disasters we face… it just doesn’t ring true for me….

That’s not my experience of life.

People suffer when there’s pain… I suffer when there’s family chaos, uncertainty and distress.

What I work on is the degree of suffering… on reining in the ‘Poor me’ laments.

Currently there’s plenty of chaos here as Casa Catastrophe, and there’s uncertainty.

Teenagers being… typical teenagers…. I can’t say more except that it involves splitting time between two cities and a fair whack of worry.

Son with ASD struggling a lot some days.

Husband looking for work which means that I don’t know where he might have to go off to… and there’s a strong chance we all might have to move far, far away….

I do call my friends in tears and when we meet, they hear a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

Thank you lovely, kind and wise chums.  Your listening to my woes helps me get them out, out, out of my head. I need to express some pain to get rid of it.

A friend yesterday talked to me about my issues with authority (thanks Dad) and discussing that with her has thrown light on a huge life issue for me and has also helped the winds of change start to whistle their way through.

The trick is not staying stuck in the pain.

I’m talking, talking, talking and swimming, swimming, swimming… and slowing down…  putting family connection first.

All this is healing and calming.

So, I’m not beating myself up for the circling thoughts and sleepless nights. There’s no glossing over real life.

Am just aiming not to get caught up in it, and not to buy into it, not to believe in it.

Friends are my salvation and gratitude, starting with giving thanks to them.

Is suffering optional for you?

What are your methods of dealing with life’s pains?


0 thoughts on “Suffering is Optional?”

    • Hello Vicki, I haven’t heard of a gratitude jar, must have a google around… am doing lots of in real life socialising, much easier since I have school days free and am in Sydney this week. I’m so lucky and so grateful to have kind pals xx

  1. I think it’s a warped sort of victim blaming, to tell someone suffering is optional. Some people experience he tragedy, prolonged stress or situations outside of their control. They aren’t suffering because they choose to. Just my two cents!

    • Yes, I agree… everyone has hard times, it’s just part and parcel of being himan… but sometimes life is much, much harsher for people… My own situation at the moment isn’t really too bad by comparison… but we parents do worry about our kids… Finding the silver linings and shimmering centres is invaluable. xx

  2. Gee, I feel for you and I GET it. It is really tough on so many levels being human and what we bring to adulthood from childhood so affecting us deeply we can’t even fathom it at times. I hear your struggle and I know it is sooooo bloody hard and I also know how much you try to do to stem the pain and the suffering. I sometimes think, as I wrote in my personal post about grief last week, that we need to acknowledge this really deep seated pain of what’s happening and happened to be able to feel some release. I am in my own world of suffering for a number of reasons and working on things but oh my friend, I know…if we could just wave a magic wand of certainty for a while I know we’d both be better. BIG hugs from me to you my friend. xxxx Denyse #teamIBOT

    • I’m all right, Natalie, thank you… think I have talked so much, and had so much good advice and some pretty much-needed insights, that I’ve talked myself out of it… feeling confident about the future and just have to live in the day and not worry about bigger pictures.

  3. I do believe that happiness is a choice but I don’t believe that suffering is optional because sometimes bad stuff happens. That said, we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we deal with it. II think setting endorphins and setting those thinks free whether it be with friends or professionals is a great place to start. Hope you catch a break soon, you certainly deserve one. Sending a virtual hug and a glass of wine x

    • Hello Sammie, it’ll be a real glass of wine tonight. Have done lots of talking this week, tried for a swim today too but didn’t work out – sick kid and now I can feel myself getting a sore throat. So a quiet time ahead… and slow, slow, slow. Enjoy the weekend xx

    • That’s a great way to put it… we need to name things to know what they are, and yes, to feel and then heal. Great.

  4. Yea, I’m with you too Seana. Sometimes the painful things extend out over long periods of time and it certainly feels like suffering. Perhaps the difference is what you touched on, the manner in which we deal with these times in our lives. Do we wallow in self-pity, garner lots of sympathy and effectively keep ourselves stuck in the dramarama of it? I know how detrimental that can be and what I have learned through some prolonged heartbreaking difficulties is that my sanity and ability to deal with it all depends on my looking after myself and doing the very best I can to stay calm. Sometimes this has seemed impossible to do, the rollercoaster of events and situations to deal with endless, but over time I have learned to stop, to effectively get a grip without being mean or hard on myself, and to do what needs done to keep me as calm as I can be. I can handle anything better when I am looking after myself well, so I am learning to gradually put my self-care top of the list, not out of any selfish act but because that’s what my family and my own sanity needs of me. When I am reasonably well rested, had sufficient sleep, am eating well and connecting with supportive friends, like you say, I am better in every way. I don’t like loosing it, feeling out of control, being caught in fearful projections, not feeling like I can cope so I HAVE HAD to learn to calm down. Sometimes that involves a big off-load to kind friends or family, sometimes, sitting and meditating, going for a walk in nature, lying on the grass, practicing meditation and mindfulness and like one reader says practicing gratitude, it’s been a life-saver for me. Even although some of the issues in my family have been terrifying I have to remember that most of our concerns are western world ones, we have enough of everything, we are safe, we are still together, we have a home, food, water, so many resources to hand, these are blessings many do not have. I also find the knowledge that we all suffer, it is the nature of living human lives, comforting. I remind myself, this is the suffering in my life and family, others have something different going on divorce, terminal illness, war, famine, addiction, loss of a child, and so on. At the end of the day we just have to get on with it and do the very best we can not to make it more than it is and to just deal with what we can each day.

    • Sleep – so crucial. I didn’t sleep for long enough last night so it will be an early night tonight for sure… and yes, there’s lots going on in our family, but actually all of it is manageable and we are grateful that there’s really nothing even nearly life threatening… and many families would be so happy to say that. Thanks for your own born-of-experience wisdom, Mairi.

  5. Hi Seana,
    I am currently exploring a great new term “self-compassion”. It involves showing yourself the same understanding, compassion and kindness that you would normally give to others. Seems to work best if you can switch off the self-blame for a certain length of time and just treat yourself to wee things you enjoy-like your swimming for example. It gladdens my heart to hear you make time for things you enjoy when around you is in chaos. Most important x

    • Hello duckie, I will think more about ‘self-compassion’ and have a wee Google around. I’m easily pleased, so a wee coffee in a cafe can feel like a HUGE treat to me, and the great thing is, I can have one every day if I want to… yeah.

  6. I like the saying “you can’t choose the circumstances, but you can choose how you respond”. Sometimes- often – things that happen to us are out of our control, but we can certainly choose to respond in ways that grow us rather than shrivel us. Two weeks ago I went to a great conference to hear Dr Caroline Leaf. She has a lot to say about this very topic. I scribbled notes for three days straight and am reading a second of her books. How we think has such a vast and tangible impact on how we live!

  7. Sorry to hear that you are dealing with lots of stuff at the moment. I think I understand the quote in terms of saying pain happens to us all, but we suffer more because of how we play things over in our minds, basically wallowing and so going deeper into the pain. As a wallower from way back I know this, especially when we were going through infertility/IVF which was over a long period. Sounds like your strategies of talking, swimming and staying connected ae helping you suffer less. Take care.

    • Hello Kathy, I do agree, it’s the wallowing that becomes a problem… and also over-dramatising and looking for attention sometimes. Lots and lots of in real life talking, nattering and blethering is really good for me. All the best xx


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