A few years ago on a cold January day, I began a journey to personally find out the answer to that question. A call came from my son who lives in Costa Rica. He was to undergo a series of two eye surgeries to repair some very serious damage he experienced as a result of a diving accident. This accident had the potential of taking away his site. Clint called and said “Mom, I see better than I ever have.” He then said, “I see perfectly. There will not be a need for the second operation. Please get a pen and paper and write what I am about to say for I have no intention of repeating this or holding these words in my memory. The doctor said I will be completely blind within a few months. There is nothing the doctor can do but give me medicine to relieve the pain and pressure in my eyes and head.”
I started suffering immediately! It woke up with me in the morning, followed me through the day like a shadow. It then went to bed with me and haunted my sleep with night terrors of the worst kind. It soon became clear that I did not want to live this way. I would not be a victim! I refused to lose my faith so I sought for answers and spiritual wisdom. I started looking for truths that I could apply to get me through the day, the night, the next 24 hours. I wrote them one by one on a white board that hung in my office.
Is emotional suffering really necessary? Emotional suffering hurts very badly. We do not have to suffer over and over again. Pain in this life is inevitable but suffering is optional. That was my mantra for many, many days. Deepak Chopra said “Suffering is pain held onto!” I am not denying the existence of the pain; I choose not to hold on to it. If and when I do hold on to pain, the suffering gets worse.
How I got through the months that followed the news of Clint’s condition was by incorporating these Seven Principles often. The seven principles were amazing for me because it helped me change my thoughts to the present moment, thoughts such as: he is not blind and he is alive. In this moment there is no need to suffer. I made choices that were based on true, not false belief systems of some future possibility. I focused on what was true NOW, for now is all that is real.
Carlos Costaneda said “We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work and energy is the same. But one gives us strength and the other creates fear.”
Let’s take a quick look at each of these principles to eliminate emotional suffering. Remember, this is an all day workshop that I teach, but here is a nice summary.
- Respect and Value Yourself and all others.
- Give up the Need to be Right
- Being right is not all it is cracked up to be. Ask yourself what is the price for being right? Often, the price is alienation and lack of PEACE. What is your PEACE worth to you? In the whole scheme of life, were your most memorable, loving, spirit-filled moments ever about being right?
- Avoid Judgments. Ram Dass suggests this method for eliminating judgment from our lives, “When you catch yourself grumbling about someone else, own it as a projection and say, ‘And I am that too.’“ Whoa, that puts judging in a whole new light!
- Forgive Instantly. The longer we harbor unforgiveness, the more we will suffer.
- Keep Your Word. How many times have you suffered because you did not keep your word? How many times have you suffered because you used unkind words against yourself or others?
- Stop Being Offended –Being offended is a choice – if we make a choice to be offended we then must defend. One of the biggest assumptions of life is that others feel and think the way we do. When they do not, we often make it about us. It is not about us!!
- Practice Gratitude – Whenever I start to suffer, I choose an attitude of gratitude.
A post note, my son still has his eyesight five years later. We are grateful and blessed.
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