Suffering is a bridge: It connects you with all those who had suffered (and may suffer) your fate.
It connects you with their worldviews, reasons, decisions, and feelings in a way nothing else can.
How can you understand a child’s craze for chocolate without having tasted one?
How can you describe inebriation to someone who hasn’t gotten intoxicated before?
Perhaps it was the reason Jesus had to experience temptation before becoming a judge.
Judging others harshly is often because we haven’t suffered what they suffered.
Or, perhaps we are simply perpetuating the pain we felt when we suffered.
So, let’s talk about growing from suffering:
People often ask, “What is your greatest fear?”. Some say it is the death of their parents, whilst others mention poverty.
All fears are valid. And, to some extent, I share these fears. But, having experienced a number of these sufferings, and being close to those who have experienced greater suffering, I think the worst sufferings are those which we are often unable to think or talk about before and after they occur.
The kind of suffering Sisyphus endured: The kind of suffering you have to learn to live with. The type that detaches you from the rest of the world but connects you with a few equally disconnected people, and perhaps to a new life.
It is the kind of suffering people experience when a part of them is redefined.
I can think of several examples of these; like when a person is rapped, loses their spouse, or is disowned/excommunicated.
Let’s work with only these three:
It is not that sex reduces their value, or that the death of someone removes a strand of hair from their head. Or that not speaking with some persons reduces how often they can talk. But that all these changes who they thought they were.
Or, more correctly, affixes a new definition to who they think they are: A “victim”, “widow”, or “bastard”.
And so they suffer because this definition, of who they now are, is self-reinforcing. It is like trying to escape an awful nickname – the more you tell people not to call you that, the more they will.
And each time it is remembered the pain is renewed.
Isn’t this what #trauma is (being stuck in an awful painful past)?
What if this suffering is an opportunity to become something more?
What if the rape victim, took it as a lesson, and forged onward?
What if the bereaved, took it as a wake-up call, and matched forward?
What if the bastard, took it as an opportunity, and aimed upwards?
Sometimes terrible things happen. No one is denying that. But it is more important to learn how to define what happened.
It’s like being an alchemist who turns stone to gold.
Whilst most people will drown in their suffering, it is possible to transmute it to reason, purpose, and drive.
And, it often starts by realizing that the suffering is a bridge – to others and a new you.
A Self-Help Writer And Editor Who Keeps It Simple (Yet Elegant)