Life is inherently filled with suffering.
Suffering comes in many forms, big and small. I imagine that you can name many variations of them: losing a loved one, falling out of love with your partner, being late for work because you missed the train, losing your job, getting a flat tire, having your taco shell fall apart mid crunch, falling off your bike and breaking your wrist, becoming ill.
Whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, there is no shortage of suffering that takes place during a human being’s lifetime.
Due to the sufferings of life, it is only natural for us to seek comfortable ways to manage the pains they bare. Some of these methods are more constructive than others. Addiction is a prominent comfort-seeking method, whether it’s to smoking, drinking, shopping, working, gaming, or another fix. Other remedies for suffering include seeking religious or spiritual guidance, practicing self-care, finding social support, medicating, or therapy. I have used many of these methods in the past throughout my life to combat the pains of suffering. I have learned that many of them do work to some success.
A personal example from my life is that when I was a teenager, I used to escape from the sufferings of reality by playing an excessive amount of video games. I would spend hours a day living in fantasy worlds so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the challenges of the real world. This method of dealing with my suffering worked to lessen the pains of suffering but never made the cause of them go away.
The problem with techniques like these (including the “good” ones that “work”) is that they are reactionary. Most of these are remedies for treating the symptoms of suffering that you experience.
When you feel anxious, you may take a pill. When you feel sad, you may go to the bar to drink. When you are feeling depressed, you may pay someone to speak with you about it.
Being reactionary, they don’t deal with the source of the problem; instead, they merely treat the symptoms. They put out the fires, but they don’t deal with the conditions that started those fires in the first place. Although I do believe there is a place for these reactionary methods when dealing with our problems, they should not become our sole dependence – we should be doing more to build our resilience.
I have become interested in methods in which we can prevent suffering from ever happening to begin with, or at least, a way to become resilient so that one does not feel the pain of that suffering when it inevitably does occur. A method in which one can transform that suffering into other states of being from the point of its creation. I believe this may be the antidote to suffering:
The antidote to suffering is adopting a delusional level of responsibility for life, maybe.
I have started to adopt a level of responsibility for everything that occurs in my life, which some may view as delusional. That said, the result of which has been an increase in my agency and overall happiness.
This practice involves taking responsibility for all experiences that occur in your life, including all of their outcomes, whether good or bad. This practice may seem daunting to you at first since it is contrary to a lot of things we have traditionally learned. The most significant being that it is unrealistic for you to take responsibility for all the things in your life that distant from your control.
This raises some questions…
How could someone take responsibility for losing their job? Especially when the boss was such a jerk!
How could someone take responsibility for a friend becoming ill? I can’t control the viruses they acquire!
How could one individual take responsibility for the extreme levels of carbon being emitted into our atmosphere? I’m not the one with the factories!
The truth is, if something exists within your reality, then you have the power to influence and change it. Even if that ability to affect change is on a micro-sized scale, it still exists, meaning you can do something about it.
Taking responsibility for everything makes you powerful.
I’m going to ask you to entertain this thought for a moment: what if you could prevent every misfortune that has ever occurred in your life? Does that make you feel less powerful or more powerful?
This power comes from knowing that when something happens, you could have done something to have made it different. Let me walk you through an example scenario:
Perhaps your boss gave you a hard time for not working hard enough at work. Why did you allow them to speak to you that way? Why did you not advocate for yourself?
Perhaps it was true that you weren’t working hard enough. Why didn’t you try your best? What prevented you from working harder?
Perhaps you didn’t work hard because you hate your job and want to quit. Why didn’t you quit already? Why are you still working there? Why do you feel you cannot leave? Why did you get yourself into the position where you feel forced to keep working there?
The above is a simplified scenario, but the methodology here can be applied widely to most experiences in life.
You have to be willing to accept the idea that everything that happens in your life is essentially your fault; had you done more, tried harder, tried at all, the undesirable outcome you had may not have been so. This (potentially delusional) level of responsibility can be challenging to accept.
This way of thinking removes the idea that you are not in control of your life. No longer do you have to be a victim to circumstance. No longer will reality happen to you. No longer do you have to be an extra in someone else’s movie.
You will regain control of your life. You will be the victor of circumstance, not the victim. You will create your reality. You will become the protagonist and star of the show.
If something happens that is not your preference; you let it happen by not taking preventative actions. If something happens that is your preference; you let it happen by establishing the proper conditions. I have found this to be an incredibly validating and liberating mindset to adopt.
I am not suggesting you will no longer suffer, because you still will. However, from here on out, you won’t feel the pain. If you are the only one who can cause suffering in your own life, then you won’t be able to feel its pain.
Your new truth becomes willfully and enthusiastically embracing all of the failures and hardships within your own life as being your own doing (or lack thereof). However, if you accept this to be true, then you also accept the inverse to be true as well; that all of the success and prosperity within your own life is your own doing. That is a profound and powerful belief if you ask me.
If you are willing to try this method, I commend you. From a spiritual perspective, its one of the hardest experiences I have ever had. I have started to take responsibility for everything, or at least, I have begun to try. Once I started trying, I became a whole lot happier.
All of this said, this method is all just a hypothesis at the moment. I will have to report back later down the road with my findings. I would love to hear from you as well if you notice any changes in your life after adopting this mindset.
I understand that what I am suggesting is pretty out there, and quite frankly – tough. I do not mean to suggest that it works for everyone. Only you will know what the best method for remediating the pain of suffering from your own life will be.
If this method doesn’t work for you, I hope that you can find the support, resources, strength, guidance, and power to get you through. Your struggles, challenges and pains are valid; I know you have the ability to overcome them – I am rooting for you!
Here’s to us all doing away with being the victims of our realities, and becoming the victors of them instead!
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