by Phillip McKewin of the Personal Empowerment Institute
Is Suffering Necessary?
This is an interesting question. Personally I feel that suffering is a normal part of life and suffering provides us with infinite opportunities to awaken. Here are four reasons why I feel suffering supports our growth.
1. Suffering allows us to connect with our humanity. Adversity offers us many opportunities for personal growth. When we suffer we are connected to the collective heart of people all over our planet. By allowing suffering to be a catalytic force that cultivates our compassion, kindness, generosity and ability to develop empathy, we become a better version of ourselves.
2. Suffering gives us a greater appreciation for the good things in life. If life were comfortable and felt good all of the time, we would not be able to fully appreciate the value of the good things in our life, because there would be nothing to compare our comfort and happiness to. This is the old age reasoning behind duality – without cold how can you know and appreciate warmth and heat?, without darkness how can you know and appreciate light?, without hatred how can you know and appreciate love?….etc…
4. Suffering can include happiness within the experience. We often think suffering and happiness cannot coexist. However often the greatest happiness is found within suffering (because it is challenging and painful). Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King all endured great suffering at the hands of others. Yet their suffering had a higher purpose, and they knew that they were achieving greatness and actualizing their potential (and the potential of their people) through the hardships they suffered.
5. Suffering is an important ingredient in cultivating self awareness. Our shadow self contain all of the parts of ourselves that we attempt to hide, suppress or deny. It contains those dark aspects of ourselves that we believe are unlovable, unwanted, and unacceptable to ourslves, and to others. However our shadow exists to teach us what we need to heal within ourselves in order to love and accept ourselves, just the way we are. This is really important inner work. By healing our shadow we no longer need to pretend to be someone we are not. You will no longer have to prove that you’re good enough, that we are lovable or worthy. This is our key to personal freedom. This is our greatest gift to ourselves. To be who we came here to be. This is what awakening is all about. Waking up for the nightmare of the ego and the false self, and truly being the love that you already are. And along the way, suffering is an integral part of this journey home to your most whole and authentic self.
Take a moment and ask yourself if you perceive the gifts of suffering in the same way as I do, or perhaps your thoughts are different.
Have a warm, reflective and rejuvenating month