Have you ever met someone that seems to always be doing bad? They are always sick, always have a crisis going on, and nothing in their life ever seems to be going right? This person seems to constantly be in a perpetual state of, “woe is me.” And no matter how much advice, care, or resources you attempt to provide to them, they always seem to attract more suffering. Suffering addiction is a very real thing. While pain is inevitable, suffering is surely not. I believe at some point in our lives, most of us have had some form of suffering addiction. Whether we secretly liked the attention it brought, in some way enjoyed the pain, or simply didn’t know how to change our story, we were addicted to suffering.
The blame game
One big issue with suffering addiction is the need to place blame on others. Everything is always someone else’s fault. He broke my heart, so that’s why I’m depressed. My dad left and I never got over it. My professor failed me. My boss hates me. My great grandma slept with my husband on our wedding night. My cat is plotting to kill me. My kids are little spawns of satan. While all of these things may be true, the longer you choose to hold on to them as part of your story, the longer you remain powerless. Change the narrative. He broke my heart so I used that as fuel to love myself even more. My dad left, so I promised myself to choose a man with character and integrity as my spouse/father of my children. My professor failed me, so I studied harder and retook the class. My boss hates me so I started my own company or found a job where I am able to thrive. My cat is plotting to kill me, so I dropped it off at the park in the middle of winter. My great grandma slept with my husband, so I left him for his great uncle Leroy. My kids are spawns of satan, so I gave them up for adoption. There, fixed it. People are finicky. You can’t control how another person treats you anymore than they can control how you treat them. Tying another person’s behavior to your feelings and emotions is extremely detrimental to your mental health. How another person chooses to treat you or feel about you is personal to them and has absolutely nothing to do with you. If someone is treating you in a way that is undesirable to you, you don’t have to keep them in your life any more than you have to add their poor treatment of you as part of your story. Forgive them, set up boundaries and keep it moving with your pride and self-love still intact.
Focus on your own grass
If I had their money, spouse, career, family, luck, my life would have been so much better. Comparison is the thief of joy. Social media has made comparison so much easier. We can now spend as many hours of the day as we choose to comparing our lives to people on Beyonce’s internet. I definitely have had to get over this. For many, many years growing up and even in adulthood I had a, “why not me attitude.” I would wonder why I wasn’t reaping the benefits of others in similar fields but deep down inside I knew the answers: 1. I wasn’t ready. 2. I wasn’t putting in the work. Sometimes we are so ill prepared for the things we think we want. If we received them, we wouldn’t even know what to do with it. When we place our attention solely on what we want, and how we are going to go about getting the things we want, we are able to double our effort and attention making it that much closer to our grasp. Ultimately, you have no clue what is going on in someone else’s life. While their highlight reel maybe pretty, behind closed doors can be horrendous. Even if they have a aspirational life, that should let you know that you too can have it. My new attitude in life is, if just one person did it, so can I. If one person achieved it, then you know it’s not impossible. Instead of suffering because you don’t have what someone else does, focus your attention on obtaining the things and life you want while seeing the current things you have as gifts and choosing to be grateful for them.
Change the narrative
Let’s say you had a traumatic event happen to you in your childhood. Perhaps something similar then happened to you as an adult. You held on to this pain for so long, your entire life was shaped around it. Everyone you encountered knew this story. You enjoyed the sympathy you got for it. Though you’d never admit it, you liked the attention you received and therefore, whenever the opportunity presented itself, you retold the story, re-felt the pain, and watched the pity on people’s faces as you recounted every gruesome detail. In some ways you benefitted from it, so you held on to it because it made you feel special. I’m not saying to forget this trauma ever happened to you, but you have to be able to see past your trauma to stop the suffering. Sometimes we hold on to suffering because we feel the need to punish ourselves or in some way enjoy the attention we get from it. When you are truly ready to move on from your suffering, you must be ready to change your narrative. You are not what happened to you. Though in some way this trauma may have shaped certain circumstances in your life, it is not who you are. As easily as you have made this thing into your story, decide to make something else be your story. What are you good at doing? What is your contribution to society? What makes you happy? What makes you want to get out of bed every morning? Make that your story. Become the person that was bullied but now mentors people who went through the same thing. The kid who grew up in abusive foster care and now adopts older children and gives them the lives you wish you had. The previous alcoholic who know runs AA meetings and lends a listening ear to those you can help. Become the person that helps the old lady across the street every morning, to where, no one knows exactly. Be the guy that peed his pants at the 9th grade dance, but now models for depends commercials, the girl who got cheated on by her boyfriend, but married his rich father and became his stepmom. You can profit from your pain or you can completely change your story altogether. Reinvent yourself. Reinvent your story. No one gets to decide who you are or how you show up to the world but you. If all else fails move to a new country, change your name and start completely over. Ultimately, the choice is yours and yours alone. Suffer or success. Which one will you choose?
Love and light,