Listening to an audio book by Pema Chodron I heard her say “Suffering makes us softer”. She noted that if we push away our suffering we don’t get the benefit of letting it ripen, giving us the benefit of the lesson imbedded in the suffering. Our brains are hardwired to flee from suffering. We are good at finding maladaptive ways of avoiding pain; too much arguing, too much shopping, too much alcohol or drug use, too many distractions to sit with our pain to let it open up empathy for suffering of all beings. The softening comes in the form of empathy for ourselves and others.
Having recently suffered a knee injury, I have a new empathy for people who deal with chronic pain. I am accustomed to jumping up from a chair to do a chore, fix a meal or water the garden. But, with a knee injury, i have to plan my effort carefully to minimize the time spent standing on the injured knee. Now, I am softer to myself and all beings who are dealing with pain because I am in pain. The thought occurred to me that maybe this injury couldn’t be fixed and I will have to live with it for the rest of my life. Already, after just 2 days of being injured, I am distracted, exhausted, annoyed and frustrated. I have had to adapt my plans for work, wardrobe and activities like sleep and gardening. So, this suffering could make me a harder person to life with, to work with or to deal with in my everyday exchanges.
Perhaps hearing the message about suffering makes us softer would have landed on deaf ears if I hadn’t already been dealing with this injury? I am grateful for the empathy people have for me when they see me limping. This relates to couples counseling because couples come in when they are wounded and suffering. My goal is to honor the pain, helping them find a way to appreciate the lessons ahead in a way that helps them tolerate the path they are on and lets them find hope that the road ahead leads to better ways of traveling through life together. Suffering is an inescapable part of our human experience. Perhaps reading this blogs help you embrace the benefit of the lessons learned through difficult times. Knowing suffering can fuel the need to call for couples counseling is my hope for you today. Don’t wait for the pain to go away. Call 701-356-5544 to make an appointment or online at book a time on the client portal at Journeycounselors.com.