When talking about pain and suffering, most people tend to think that they are one and the same.
All of us have had painful experiences in our lives.
And perhaps at one point in our lives, we thought that if we do not feel any pain, we would not have to suffer. But the truth is, without pain, we would not know what happiness feels like.
So how can we live our lives without having to suffer from our pain?
Here’s what people don’t realize right away off the bat: you can feel pain without having to suffer, but you can suffer even without pain.
In other words, there are many reasons why we continue to suffer, and pain isn’t always the cause behind it.
Pain is Inevitable Suffering is Optional: The Difference Between Them
Even though both pain and suffering are often linked to one another, the bottom line is that pain and suffering are two very different concepts.
You may have heard the saying that “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” Perhaps you are reading this article to find a way to heal your wounds, or maybe you’re done with your suffering and you’re looking for some answers…
To understand how to overcome your suffering, you must first understand the main difference between pain and suffering.
Simply put, pain is the state of discomfort and affliction. It is the general feeling of hurt.
Meanwhile, suffering refers to the experience a certain person goes through when in pain.
With that said, two different people may be experiencing the same type and amount of pain, but they will experience it differently.
The biggest difference between the two is that the cause of suffering is based on one person’s perspective.
What may sound extremely painful to you may not be the same for a person who has a higher level of tolerance.
Why Do People Suffer?
Now that you’ve come to understand the differences between pain and suffering, you might be wondering why some people give in to suffering.
Below are some of the major reasons for suffering.
Thoughts and Beliefs
More often than not, a person’s thoughts and beliefs could be the main culprit of their suffering – especially if they are limiting and negative.
This set of beliefs was most likely developed during their younger years and therefore, are harder to change as they grow older.
They say that these beliefs were passed onto them by their parents but traumatic events that happened in the past could have also been the cause of their current way of thinking.
We often use our thoughts and beliefs as a basis for our decisions. They influence our actions and shape our personalities.
Let’s say that you are a person who has always believed that your work is never good enough no matter how hard you try.
Even if everyone around you praises you for your job well done, you have difficulty accepting compliments because of the way you think.
When all we have are negative thoughts about ourselves and the people around us, we are unconsciously making ourselves suffer by creating barriers within ourselves.
Even though we are well aware of our pain, sometimes we do not like to admit the cause of it.
Perhaps you are in a harmful relationship and you still refuse to accept that it is not going to work out. Maybe you’ve been making excuses for your partner while convincing yourself that it is normal and will someday change for the better.
Without acceptance of the truth, you are putting yourself in a situation where suffering becomes inevitable.
There are some types of people who prefer to escape from their pain rather than to face it head-on.
Because of this, they don’t only struggle with giving themselves closure, but they also have difficulties expressing their own pain.
They have not yet dealt with their emotions, which can be unhealthy when it is continuously ignored.
Although they may seem fine on the surface, they do not find inner peace due to their resistance.
It is easier to deal with the problem earlier rather than later because your suffering would only be greater if you leave your pain unattended.
Have you ever had a friend or a loved one who prefers to dwell in their suffering rather than find ways to move on?
Of course, healing from a painful experience or trauma takes a lot of time. The problem is when that person does not make any effort to make their situation better.
As they say, misery loves company. And some people may enjoy the drama but without a doubt, they are only causing themselves to suffer longer if they are reluctant to change.
There are various reasons as to why people are reluctant to change. But chances are, those reasons aren’t good enough that you should suffer over it every day.
Nobody likes to hang out with a negative person. In fact, having a negative outlook on life repels a lot of people from reaching out to you.
But the greater damage is actually done towards yourself. When you succumb to pessimism, you are actually building a wall around yourself. Even if people are looking to help you overcome your suffering, you do not allow them to do so.
Maybe the continuous bad events in your life made you believe that there is nothing good that could ever happen to you and that all good things will eventually turn bad.
But the truth is, your thoughts are very powerful. If you continue to believe that no good will ever come to you, it isn’t surprising that it becomes your reality.
To counteract this, all you need is to have a little faith and to allow yourself the possibility of experiencing the good things in life.
We are all afraid of something and we all know that because of our fear, we are limiting ourselves from doing certain things even if it looks good and attractive.
Think of it as something like going bungee jumping. Your fear of heights might hold you back from enjoying the experience – even if it does seem like a lot of fun.
The same thing can be said about our suffering.
Perhaps it is our fear of rejection or of being left alone that we caused us to choose our current suffering. It’s not easy overcoming our own fears, but sometimes it is a lot easier and more worth the effort to work through the suffering rather than being content in our suffering.
7 Ways to Overcome Suffering
After getting to know the different causes of a person’s suffering, you might be wondering about some ways to overcome suffering. As we’ve mentioned above, pain is inevitable suffering is optional.
Below are some methods you can use to begin healing your spiritual wounds.
Forgiveness and Acceptance
The very first step to overcoming your suffering is to accept what has been done and to forgive those that were involved.
There is no sense in trying to blame your suffering on other people.
Instead of finding fault in others, letting go is the less self-damaging option. Although they have wronged you, it is still your choice whether or not you would continue your suffering.
It is perfectly normal to feel hurt, but it isn’t necessary to continuously feel that way every day.
By learning how to forgive others, you are also setting yourself free from your past. And the act of acceptance is also a way of bringing closure to your pain.
Treat It as A Lesson
As they say, there is always something good that can come out of your pain.
You become stronger, wiser and you can also learn some valuable lessons along the way. It is often said that personal experience is the best teacher and the same can be said about painful experiences.
By treating your experience as a source of learning, it can somehow turn into something a bit more positive. With this new perspective, it is also a lot easier to let go and move on.
Heal with Others
Most of us give good advice to the people we love, but just can’t seem to offer great advice to ourselves.
When we feel lost, it may be a good idea to confide in someone or even to look for a shoulder to cry on. But some of us may not have such people in our lives whom we can turn to during our bad days.
Instead of looking for some comfort in others, try to heal with other people who are facing the same problem. They are more likely to understand the situation you are in better than others.
By offering your own shoulder for another person to cry on, you are also offering yourself a bit of strength. If they can overcome their suffering, it just goes to show that you can too.
Avoid Creating Drama
As we have said above, suffering is created based on a person’s perspective.
This means that suffering is the story that we tell ourselves about our pain. Sometimes there are people who like to exaggerate their pain, rather than expressing the truth of their situation.
However, this doesn’t mean that it is always intentional. Perhaps it is the way they translate the intensity of the pain they experience.
In relation to accepting your condition, it is also recommended that you accept it in its true form. Avoid creating unnecessary drama because you would not benefit from it anyway.
You are the only person who can claim your suffering.
Even if you are trying to tell the tale of your pain to others, they are not able to feel the same way especially if they have not experienced the same situation as you have before.
Look Forward to Change
Instead of focusing too much on your suffering, why not think of the many possibilities change can bring?
It is understandable to become blinded by our suffering that we can no longer perceive happiness.
But no one can get over that barrier except you. Rather than wallowing in your suffering, look at the options that are available to you.
If you are currently in a bad relationship, imagine what it might feel like to have someone cherish you as you deserve to be.
Chances are, there is someone out there who will treat you better than your current partner. You no longer have to compromise yourself for someone who does not deserve your time and effort.
Remember that you are entitled to happiness.
Spending too much time by yourself and locked up in your room can make you feel alone even if there are a lot of people who are supporting you.
Staying stuck in a rut will not help you get over your suffering. Surprise yourself by doing something unexpected. It doesn’t have to be something big – even some ice cream as a form of self-love can go a long way.
If you are bold enough, perhaps a makeover needs to be scheduled. Sometimes seeing yourself in a new light makes you believe that you are ready for a fresh new start.
After so much pain, you deserve to be treated and pampered and you don’t need someone else to do it for you. Show yourself some love by giving yourself some respect and value.
Go on an Adventure
Some people travel to get away from their problems but actually, there is no place on earth you can go that could erase your suffering.
You can be anywhere on the globe and still be in pain. With this in mind, don’t travel just for the sake of traveling.
Push yourself to the limits and be bold. Take on a new adventure and see how your pain helped you grow into a stronger person.
A new adventure always brings new opportunities we never knew existed. Not only is it a great way to experience something new, you are also distracted from negative thoughts while you are on an adventure.
They say that things happen for a reason and the same can be said about our pain and suffering.
Perhaps you are destined to learn an important lesson in this lifetime, or maybe you needed to go through such experiences in order to become a better version of yourself.
We cannot escape from pain but there is no reason why we should allow ourselves to suffer from it.
Hopefully, these tips can enlighten you and help you overcome the suffering you currently hold in your heart and always remember that pain is inevitable suffering is optional.
Allen Wei is someone who believes in living his best life, focusing on balance, happiness, and relaxation. He fosters a positive lifestyle in terms of his body, mind, and environment, and he is a huge proponent of learning to be balanced via relaxation techniques integrated into our busy lives.