Beyond the automatic and involuntary life that might be thought of as suffering

lies the possibility of a fulfilling and purposeful life.

If the life you have is, as mine was, defined by the next bad thing that is going to happen, this statement may seem ridiculous. It’s probably difficult to imagine having a good life if the life you’ve had has lacked joy and contentment.

It is normal to get comfortable with suffering. The idea of having a life you want may strike chords of hopelessness and impossibility.

That’s the way it was for me for decades. If anyone were to suggest that life could be good;

that I could have a life that wasn’t filled with fear and dissatisfaction, I would have said, “You don’t get it. You don’t understand. I’ve tried everything.”

And I had. I had tried everything – that I knew how to try.  But my efforts were informed by four false beliefs – assumptions I had made based on my earlier years.

Four fundamental misunderstandings (false beliefs)

  1. I believed that what was happening out there was what was causing my suffering and dissatisfaction in here
  2. What was happening out there had to be managed and controlled if I were going to have any success reducing or managing my suffering.
  3. Some emotions are just too painful for me to tolerate.
    1. I believed that if I let myself start feeling, I might not be able to stop without hurting myself or somebody else.
  4. The best I could hope for was a life without suffering.

And I didn’t really believe that was possible. (no caption)

Lucky for me, my suffering got so bad that I started looking for other ways to deal with my suffering.

I started reading books and going to retreats and workshops, taking trainings, and finding models and methods that showed me how to end my suffering. I discovered five principles that transformed my life.

I think these five principles can transform life for anyone – it they’re ready for change.

Five Principles that transformed my life

  1. Suffering manifests externally but originates internally.
    • The source of suffering is internal. The solution to suffering is also internal.
    • Resisting uncomfortable emotions creates suffering. To resolve suffering, embrace it.
  2. You are, at your core, fully resourced and have the power you need to overcome suffering.
    • You have the capacity, power and resources needed to end your suffering.
    • In the IFS model, this is referred to as the Self.
  3. Change requires choice to overcome suffering and a commitment to do so.
    • Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I CHOSE to suffer. I just didn’t know I could choose not to.
    • Even though I started to see that there were things that worked to end my suffering, it wasn’t easy. It required consistent hard work. But I was motivated and I stuck with it. The alternative was just too painful.
  4. External change requires conscious updating of the internal world
    • I learned that the beliefs that ran my life had to be recognized and updated to reflect current reality. And I learned a couple of powerful ways to do that. The result was freedom from suffering.
    • As I updated my beliefs, I gained access to my innate resources and for the first time in my life I felt like I had the power and clarity to start living a life I chose to live.
  5. When the internal is updated, the fully resourced and empowered Self provides leadership and our purpose is revealed.
    • That leadership started on the inside – I became more aware of what was happening with my thoughts and emotions. Because I was able update the beliefs that drove those thoughts and emotions, I gained some control over how I reacted to the circumstances of my life.

Learn to embrace your suffering so you can understand it, update it, and gain more and more access the resources needed to resolve your suffering. This will make it possible for you to begin to imagine a life beyond suffering.

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