Thinking About What Matters: Why We Suffer?

 This post is about using Emotional Intelligence to ease the devastation of suffering.

Quotes about suffering

Each quote represents the universal attempt to explain suffering.. The most common explanations: It is our fault, randomness, God’s punishment, proof there is no God.

As Robert Frost noted: “We dance round in a ring and suppose/But the secret sits in the middle and knows.”

The anthropologist Clifford Geertz says, “…. the drive to make sense out of our experience, to give it form and order, is evidently as real and as pressing as the more familiar biological needs; .a human being cannot live in a world it is unable to understand…”

So here is how I have tried to make sense of suffering.

  1. We do not know.  I am not sure about God, but do believe in a force of love pervading all and when I pray or think of God, that force of love is my God. Proof for me that God might exist lies in the occasional miracle. Example: the one survivor of an airplane crash that kills hundreds. As the poet, E. A. Robinson said, “If God be God/God be love…..”
  2. Then there is the Buddhist idea, “It is all all right.” It may not be right for you and me, but that is a different story.
  3. Finally, I find comfort in the Jewish idea of Tikkun Olam. That idea:  God finished His work of creating this world eons ago and  left endowing  humankind with free will as well as the task of using that gift to create heaven in this world for all. The occasional miracle says to me, God keeps watch but from a time frame that is very different from ours,

Emotional Fitness Training Tips

We may not ever understand why we suffer or be able to control the forces that cause our suffering, but we can reflect on what suffering does to us,  Pain makes some people bitter and envious. It makes others sensitive and compassionate. You have a say in how suffering works its way with you.

That does not mean there are not times you are forced to your knees by pain and suffering, It is when you stagger again to stand and to do what must be done, that you need to do the following to stay strong:

Tip one: Because suffering is, make peace with it.  Suffering is part of life. and often random, not a personal punishment.

Tip two: Look for the lesson. The lesson might only be “Bad things happen randomly.” The lesson might also be more personal: Did you drive while drunk? Did you take unnecessary risks? Did you make a dangerous enemy?  If personal, heed the lesson.

Tip three: Step away from blame, anger, and hate. Forgive. Let go of blaming yourself or another. Until you forgive the flame of hurt burns your heart.  Strong self-soothing skills help.

Tip four: Become a conscious optimist.  Suffering can keep us living in fear of more suffering; not helpful and wastes the good that life bestows. To be more consciously optimistic:

  1. Be grateful for all that is good.
  2. Practice kindness often.
  3. Laugh, play, create.
  4. Find beauty.
  5. Remember what matters.

Tip five: Know when more is needed. when you stay enmeshed in the pain and can’t go on with your life you need outside help. Get it. Suffering is often too hard to bear along.

Thank you for all you do

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