Suffering — a Powerful Motivator for Change


We live in the shadow of our experiences. It is in this indecisive shade that great battles take place for our own truth, between the conscious (mind) and the subconscious (soul). We navigate this rocky terrain daily, often unaware of which aspect of ourselves wins or loses, not knowing that those resolute victories are based on what we know of ourselves and the world at large at that particular time and we can then move on with confidence to the next set of circumstances that cause us to pause and reflect.

When it comes to a broken heart, however, it can take years before we can reach an understanding within. For some, insight never comes. In this struggle for peace we often walk in what some call the torments of the damned, driving a never-ending roundabout of pain and suffering while two stories compete for validity.

For a grieving widow, her mind may insist that she does not deserve to be alone or that perhaps her late husband should have taken better care of himself so they could have lived a longer life together. But her heart may suggest that in a world of seven billion people she is not alone and perchance she could adapt and embrace a new beginning. It is in these murky depths we must travel in pursuit of one’s truth.

For the man who loses his wife to another, his questions may speak to the legitimacy of his wife’s true affection for him. In his mind, their experiences together may prove she really did love and care for him all the while her actions loom ominously in the background.

For some, when confronted with severe loss or betrayal of love, it can be as if a part of our soul splinters off from our core, leaving us isolated and unwilling to trust. We may experience depression and a lackluster appetite for life. We may stalk our thoughts for any hint of that memory, deny ourselves the reminiscing and decide not to allow love to enter our heart again. We may take up residence in a shelter of bitterness and resentment or a refuge of daily particulars designed to keep our mind and ego busy with the details of life.

But the subconscious never sleeps. It beckons to us over and over with the promise that peace and understanding will come in its own time, when healing can begin. But until that time comes, we stand at a crossroads where a dramatic choice must be made. We can bathe in the stinging waters of heart-breaking pain or we can choose to let go of the suffering. We can take the object of our affection and ourselves down off the cross, knowing that we all have lessons in our experiences to learn and endure in this life and to walk away confident that one day wisdom will come.

The choice not to love, not to venture out into the wilderness again, keeps us in an illusion of safety. After all, there is no risk if no real emotion is spent and we may feel as if we have figured out a more successful way to steer ourselves to a happier life. But I challenge you to consider another way of thinking. C.S. Lewis, who lost his wife to cancer, said (about suffering) that, “the pain now is part of the happiness then.” But could it be that the true test of a life isn’t about love or pain at all, per se, but a calling to higher understanding about emotional expression?

If we believe in a higher consciousness where relationships happen for us, not to us, and if we believe in a universe where there is order, not chaos, then how do we go about the business of letting go of suffering?

I believe the answer lies in recognizing that change is inevitable. The constant change — of seasons, of technology, of our beliefs, and most of all, of our relationships — are essential in the classroom of life. People are put in our path to mirror those things in ourselves we need to learn and grow from. When we have finished our education we move on to new people and other places where fresh tutors are waiting.

We all love those times when we feel we are in a place that is secure and protected. But within that safety, complacency abounds. There is no motivation to cultivate and mature within our spiritual selves with experiences that test our own power and energy. We cry out, plead and hang on to what we know because our minds create a fear of the unknown, and sound the alarm that all is not well.

What happened to that sense of adventure, that inquisitive nature we had as children? Have the events in your life or in the lives of others insinuated that the best course of action lies in survival instead of thriving? Did the people you came into contact with along your journey convey their own view of what success or failure means to them as sage advice for you?

When revolution touches your life, where do you run? To a mind that creates a quagmire of fear and victimization, where we abandon our own emotional foundation, causing distress and despair, or to a place within your self, a knowing that transformation is a vehicle granted to those who have stayed the course, and who have navigated successfully to the next phase of their voyage?

Suffering is a known equation. Finding happiness requires knowledge of the self. This writer believes that the greatest expedition lies within, and the greatest gift we can give to ourselves is love and self-care, especially when life doesn’t appear to love us back.

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Laurie Stinson
Laurie Stinson is a spiritual counselor living in the high desert of New Mexico. Her book, My Soul’s Journey: The Blessing of Abuse, is available on Contact her at [email protected].


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