SUFFERING IS OPTIONAL
Updated: Apr 17, 2019
Nothing is as sad as the lonely soul looking for peace…
A release from their suffering…
For the ordinary man is passive… So far from endeavoring to influence the future, he simply lies down and lets things happen to him.
Human Beings want release from their sufferings. What sufferings do we have that we can release? Answer, a lot. If we have control over how we think and feel, then why don’t we release our thoughts that are causing sufferings?
There are tools from psychology and coaching that have been developed over the last 30 years to help people release their sufferings. I’m a believer that you need multiple tools in your toolkit because each tool may result in only a gradual decrease in suffering. If one tool doesn’t work that day, try another. If one tool is not enough, well it’s a 2-tool day. It’s all ok.
Psychology from the time of Freud focused on what was wrong with people, not what is right or positive. Positive Psychology, developed in the 1990s, emphasizes strengths, rather than deficits, focusing on ways to optimize well-being, rather than focusing on what is “wrong” with you. Positive psychology has developed over 100 tools to help people release their sufferings. Some examples are the Self-Compassion Letter and the Best Possible Self exercise, both of which focus on releasing sufferings.
In the corporate world success in the past was defined as IQ, but now, we have Emotional Intelligence (EI). For a review of this concept please take a look at my earlier blog called Emotional Intelligence. IQ, EI, and personality are considered the parts that make up a person. Tools continue to be developed to help the individual grow their EI and learn to release their sufferings.
Today you might choose coaching over therapy. The coaching field has grown based on the recognition that coaches can provide people tools to help ease the pain in their daily lives and help them release suffering.
What is one of the recent initiatives designed to release our sufferings? It’s the Law of Attraction. Simply put, the Law of Attraction is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on. The Law of Attraction uses the power of the mind to translate and materialize our thoughts into reality.
There is one big BUT TO EVERYTHING DESCRIBED ABOVE!
NONE OF THESE INITIATIVES AND NONE OF THESE TOOLS WILL WORK IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE in the words you are saying (affirmations), what you are doing (mirror work), or what you are thinking (guided meditation). I believe the culprit in all this that causes a lot of suffering is passivity.
What is passivity? Passivity is a mindset that accepts what happens, without active response or resistance. Passivity is allowing others to do things to you without complaining or pushing back. I believe passivity is a cause of suffering. Let’s look at the following examples of passivity:
1. That’s life. Things just happen. In the life of passivity, the individual will tell you, “if I was meant to get the job I would have.” Actually, they never put in special effort to get the job or position because of the fear they could fail. A passivist (as used in this sense) is a person who is never responsible for whatever happens or occurs. “The relationship didn’t work out… well, if it had been meant to, it would have.” The reality is he or she was too frightened to let anyone get to know them. Passive here is an excuse for inertia due to fear.
2. Failure means it wasn’t meant to be. In a life of passivity, failure means the last stop. The passivist simply quits. Trying again after failure is not an option. This reaction to failure is often the result of the individual’s shame and fear.
3. Passive people constantly seek approval. Passive people do not make strong affirmative statements in a conversation nor do they make decisions. They ask another person…a spouse, friend, or family member… to make all the decisions and talk for them. It’s common to find them leading into sentences saying, “If it’s ok with you.” The approval seeking is often stemming out of their feelings of fear and shame.
4. A Passivist belittles their own views. Think of the person who says “I could be wrong…I’m not an expert” or other denigrating comments to his or her own beliefs or views. This person’s passivity limits them from expressing themselves, and it is likely a reaction to their fear.
5. The Other person’s needs come first. I’m not talking about situations where you are being kind, I am talking about the person who cannot put their own needs first. They will say yes when they mean no, and they will acquiesce to their partners in every case.
6. Chronic Weaknesses. Cravings associated with addictions and compulsions are symptoms of passivity that originate in the experiences of feeling fear and shame. Chronic worry is also a manifestation of inner passivity, while being a direct experience of self-doubt and fear.
Let me provide a personal example. When I was much younger working as an attorney I came to the realization one day that I was bored because I was just going through the motions of doing the work. I realized that if I continued day after day thinking with that mindset I’d be going through the motions on the same or similar cases and being miserable for the remainder of my life. I was stuck in passivity thinking this was just the way my life was. I decided I had to “do” things in my work and life to increase my happiness, and I changed. I began to actively work my cases toward a goal of resolving them and expand my caseload. I then became the first woman within the department to become a manager. It was an exciting, happy time once I decided to change.
Passivity hides fear, self-doubt, personal loathing, and shame. It’s only when we can identify our feelings, open up, lower our walls, remove the obstacles before us, and be vulnerable that we can start to live actively and fully in the present moment.
How do we release passivity? See it for what it is. It is preventing you from living the life you dream of. It’s facing your fear, looking into your shame, and bathing in your sufferings that allows you to move forward releasing your passivity and living an active full life. Nothing you do about changing your thoughts will work if you don’t overcome passivity.
What tools would I suggest? Of course, my go to tool and suggestion to you is to journal or do some writing related exercise such as The Self Compassion Letter. Writing provides an outlet for the emotions, and a later reading of the writing provides an opportunity to give yourself compassion and love. Journaling can help you see yourself through eyes of love and release your fear, loathing, and suffering.
Another suggested tool to help release passivity is to do The Work by Byron Katie. There are copies of the worksheets on her website. http://thework.com/en. There are many tools that can be used to question your old behaviors and learn new behaviors once you are committed to releasing your suffering of passivity.
You also might find a coach to help you work on issues of passivity. This type of behavior may respond to group coaching. Members of the group share information and work at being vulnerable and expressing their thoughts and feelings to one another. Think of this as a modified book club with different topics for sessions.
We humans have a lot of control over what we think and what we feel. Passivity is a mindset that can be changed. It is a learned behavior. If we learned this, we can unlearn this now.
Sending love and light your way,