There is a common saying that, life is not a bed of roses. You have to face hard moments besides your happy times. Whether through heartbreak or a broken bone, we are bound to struggle with unavoidable situations at some point in our lives. We have to live with it. It is true that we cannot avoid it, but we can reduce the suffering. Whether mild or excruciating, how we approach our physical suffering can change how we approach any discomfort in our lives. So, here are some lessons to lessen your sufferings:
Do not spin your story: We often do something similar when it comes to our emotional life, although we do not realize that it actually does not serve us. The starting point is the painful experience itself. But then we tell ourselves all kinds of stories about what it could mean based on our past experiences or future fears. When we tell ourselves that the end of a relationship will ruin the rest of our lives, or that no one else could ever understand what we are going through, or that there is no way out of our suffering, we are adding layers of meaning that do not exist within the original feeling. We have no way of knowing any of these things with any certainty. This is a sure source of suffering. Mindfulness meditation can be a very effective way to work with our mind’s habitual tendency to spin a story. By practicing to notice our thoughts and feelings just as they are and gently stopping ourselves when we catch ourselves creating a story on top of them, we can begin to liberate ourselves from this tendency.Embrace change: The statement that our life will never be the same again is not false. In fact, it is true in every moment. Change is always happening. Sometimes the change is for the good, sometimes it is painful. But we can never know the ultimate outcome of a change. What might seem horrible today may in the long run turn out to be just what we need to take us to the next step of our life. If we can learn to lean into change rather than resist it, we will find the possibility inherent in a situation.
Smile, even if you do not feel it inside: Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, once said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” This is a wonderful reminder that we have more power to change our mood than we realize. Something as simple as finding the smile that is inside us, even when life hurts, can help us access that deep well of joy. It may feel forced at first, but watch what happens to your state of mind when you practice smiling. And notice how people react differently to you when you smile at them. This kind of positive feedback loops can make a big difference in overcoming our own suffering rather than being entrenched in it.
Jolt yourself out of your usual routine: Sometimes suffering comes because of our way of thinking. We obsess over our loss and cannot seem to think of anything else. At times like these, it helps to give our psyche and soul a jumpstart by doing something we would not normally do. Whatever it is that may pull you out of your rut, give it a try and see how it changes the nature of your suffering.
Soften someone else’s suffering: When we experience pain, it is easy to isolate ourselves and believe that no one has it worse than we do. While whatever pain you are experiencing is unique to you, it helps to remember that all human beings share the capacity for joy and suffering. Having contact with someone else, who is also having a difficult time and offering them simple kindness, can be a great antidote to our own suffering. Look into the eyes of a homeless person as you walk down the street and give him a kind word.It’s okay to cry: The image of the strong, silent warrior is a misleading symbol. Often, we think that holding our breath, stifling our tears and our cries of agony will make us stronger. In fact, the opposite is true. Our body releases bio-chemicals and hormones in response to both physical and emotional pain. Giving voice to our suffering is healthy and allows us to process these chemicals much more quickly.