Ending Mental Suffering

will's picture

Most people accept mental suffering like it's a fact of life, like it's completely unavoidable. People believe that suffering is something that happens to them, they believe it's this outside thing and they're a victim. That's all an illusion though, your own suffering is something you do have the power to change.

When I say suffering here, please understand that I'm talking about mental suffering, and not physical pain. Physical pain is something that's going to happen in your life, it's unavoidable. Furthermore, in most cases it's not such a negative thing. It's a great indicator that there's a problem with your physical body. If you stick your hand in boiling water, it's good to feel pain because then you'll pull your hand out and prevent any further harm. In this case the pain is very helpful.

Mental suffering can make physical pain ten times as bad. The anticipation of pain, the fear of pain, and trying to avoid pain can create enormous mental suffering even when no physical pain is present. Physical pain doesn't have to create mental suffering, and you have a direct example of that in the people labelled "masochists". These are people who derive pleasure from pain, not something I recommend, but it goes to show that mental suffering doesn't have to be a reaction to pain.

All mental suffering is self-inflicted. For most it doesn't seem this way though, since the suffering is an unconscious reaction. The patterns that have created the suffering have been repeated so many times they're automatic, without any conscious awareness. This is why it's so incredibly important to be aware of everything that's going on in your life. If you really want change, you have to acknowledge the patterns that exist, and then make a different choice.

Mental suffering doesn't even have to be related to physical pain at all. Simply waiting for something can cause suffering in people, so can a minor annoyance. It's no secret where suffering comes from, Buddha explained it over 2,000 years ago. Suffering comes from desire. If one desires to be free of pain, which is something most people want, and then pain comes along, the desire is unfulfilled. The mind didn't get what it wants, and it throws a tantrum like a child, it brings suffering upon itself. Do you see the foolishness of this? You don't get what you want, which I would think people would be used to by now, and on top of that you create misery for yourself! As if not getting your desire wasn't enough!

You don't have control over what happens in your life. You have enormous influence over your life, but not control. You're not going to get everything you desire, and that's a good thing to accept right now. I recommend simply having preferences for what you'd like to see, but not attachments or expectations on the outcome. Allow for all possibilities, don't expect life to conform to your desires. You can barely know what's going to happen in 5 minutes, let go of the future. Release your desires and expectations, and not only will you ease your suffering, you'll open yourself up to new and grander possibilities for your life.


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