Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. -Haruki Murakami
while i don’t recall the moment i first heard haruki murakami’s quote, i distinctly remember the feeling in my body. my jaw clenched and my shoulders rolled back and tightened as i began to embody a fighting stance. i was under attack and preparing myself for battle. i was ready to defend my suffering. i was set to argue against anyone who would dare try to take my limitations away.
now, as i reflect on that version of me, i feel a sadness for her. but her aggressively defensive behavior makes sense to me.
when i was told my suffering was optional, i made it mean that it was a choice. and i didn’t want to hear that i was CHOOSING to suffer.
because that would mean i would no longer be able to blame my mom or my dad or my life or those people over there or this circumstance here or my finances or that one person from 15 years ago who called me fat or that teacher who wouldn’t help me or that guy that broke my heart or that girl who said those things mean things.
if my suffering was a choice, i’d have to stop saying it was “them” keeping me down and admit that it was me.
and friend, i didn’t like that one bit.
but, here’s the thing that’s important to understand if you want to live an empowered life– your experience is 100% within your control.
if we are suffering, it is our choice.
if you are suffering, it is your choice.
i was reading an article that described it like this: it is possible to experience pain and not suffer as much as it’s possible to suffer and not be in any physical pain.
to me, the suffering kicks in when we become emotionally entangled in our pain. when we take our pain and we attach who we are to that pain we will suffer. when we beat ourselves up (physically, mentally, or emotionally) for our pain, we will suffer. when we continue our self-abuse with guilt and shame, we will continue our suffering.
THESE are the things that are our choice.
the painful or traumatic or painful thing that happened? that’s not on you.
but, making that event(s) mean something negative about who you are, beating yourself up again and again for your perceived mistake(s), and torturing yourself with guilt and shame… friend, those things are your choice.
if you believe you’ve suffered enough, comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. i’d love to support you. and if you haven’t suffered enough, carry on. but, as you carry on, do it will full ownership that at this point, the suffering you’re experiencing is YOUR CHOICE.
blame is easier, but it’s never healed a hurting human. please don’t try to be the first.