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We convince ourselves that suffering is a necessary a part of life. Pain is a part of life; suffering is optional. Listen and learn how to stop unnecessary suffering.
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Hey there and welcome. You are listening to the Stories From a Quest to Live Happier Podcast, and I’m your host, Nancy Jane Smith. I’m a licensed professional counselor and in this podcast, I share my stories and lessons I’ve learned, and I continue to learn on my quest to live happier. Show notes and the complete transcript can be found a live-happier.com/podcast, and this is episode 41, Your Suffering Isn’t Healthy.
Today I want to talk about how we all engage in the act of suffering and suffering is something that we pretty much get there because of our inner critics. Our inner critics are our mongers, as I like to call them because they use propaganda. Our mongers basically convince us that if we’re suffering, at least we’re doing something. This shows up in big ways and little ways all day long. A big way would be, let’s say you’re doing a job search, and you’ve lost your job, and so you have to do a job search and job search suck. It’s really hard to do a job search.
You do it for a little while, and then you decide, okay, I’ve submitted my resumes or I’ve made some phone calls, and I’ve really made some headway this morning. So this afternoon I’m going to really enjoy my afternoon, but the whole afternoon that you’ve taken off, your mongers are just hammering you and hammering you and hammering you. That’s kind of; you convince yourself that’s the price you have to pay. That’s the price of doing business. I’ve taken the day off, and so, therefore, I’m going to get hammered by my mongers and so that’s the suffering that I deserve for not being the perfect person.
It also shows up in the little ways. For me it shows up in, I might be procrastinating on doing a certain task, and so my monger just starts beating me up for all the procrastination, and I think to myself, well, I’m not doing the task, but I am suffering. This is the cost, the price we pay for not doing whatever it is we think we should be doing.
The suffering is unnecessary. It’s kind of the idea of when you decide, oh I’m going to get up in the morning and I’m going to set my alarm, and I’m going to start working out every morning. The alarm goes off, and you’re supposed to get up and get dressed and workout, but you hit the snooze alarm. Instead of going back to sleep, you lay there and punish yourself for the fact that you haven’t gotten up. You’re kind of like, you’re a loser, you didn’t get up, you’re such a loser. You don’t go to sleep, and you’re not working out. You’re just in this weird, limbo, middle area of suffering. The more we can cut out that weird middle area of suffering, the happier we’re going to be.
What happens is we kind of have to get in the habit of recognizing this suffering isn’t necessary. I don’t need to be beating myself up here. I’ve made the decision I’m going to sleep, so I’m going to sleep. Now if you can’t get back to sleep, then you need to get up and go workout or get up and go do something, but forcing yourself to suffer is unnecessary, and that’s just making ourselves more miserable. We do it all the time.
When I started paying attention to this concept of how often I engage in suffering, it was radical to me to recognize that I engage in suffering, even from the idea of, “Oh I should go to the grocery store.” Then all day long I’ll be playing in my head, “You should go to the grocery store, you should go to the grocery store.” And I don’t want to go to the grocery store, and I don’t have time to go to the grocery store that day, and instead of just saying, “You know what? This suffering isn’t necessary, you’re not going to the grocery store today, you’re going to go tomorrow.,” I engage in this hammering of myself over and over and over again that a more responsible person or a more on top of it person or a more perfect person would have time to go to the grocery store and do it all today. The more I’ve been able to recognize, you know what? The suffering isn’t necessary, the happier I’m going to be.
When you hear this idea of, hey, suffering isn’t necessary, you’re like, “Duh. I know this. I know that suffering isn’t necessary. I hate that I do this to myself. It’s just so annoying, and I wish I didn’t hammer myself all the time.” We get the idea that it’s stupid in so many ways that we’re doing it to ourselves. What happens, and the tricky part about this whole concept of mongers and inner critic and self-ridicule is that it does feel, I like to call it, my warm, cozy, really itchy sweater in the fact of there’s a part of it that feels warm and cozy and familiar and comfortable. Our mongers lull us into this safety net of comfort and support, and we feel like, “Yes, I should be suffering. You’re right.” We kind of become those little minions that were in the box in theToy Story Movie that were like, “Yes master. Yes.” We kind of become that tranced person based on what our mongers are telling us and that’s the warm, cozy, fabulous part of the sweater.
Then what happens, especially as we start getting more aware of it, it starts getting really itchy, and we’re like, “Wait a minute. I feel uncomfortable, and I don’t like how this is feeling,” but we’re still stuck in the trance. We don’t realize that we can actually take off the sweater. We don’t have to wear the sweater so even though it’s warm and cozy; it’s itchy, and so we don’t want that in our lives. That’s the piece that is the super challenge of dealing with this idea of you don’t have to suffer.
It’s recognizing when are you wearing that sweater? When are you in that trance of, oh, a good person does this and I should be that, and this is what, no one should be doing this and justifying and proving and defending and atoning for everything we’re doing. When we get stuck in that space of I, have to justify why I’m doing this. I’m going to lay here in bed miserable and justify why I’m not getting out of bed. We get stuck in that warm, cozy sweater feeling. Then it gets really itchy, and we’re annoyed because now we’ve lost 45 minutes of sleep and we didn’t get to work out. All we did was suffer for nothing.
To kind of start building awareness of when are you stuck in that trance? When are you wearing that sweater? When are you stuck in the itchiness and saying to yourself, “I don’t have to suffer here.”? There’s no need to suffer. Then the biggest thing is to make a choice to decide: I’m going to get up, and I’m going to go workout, or I’m going to get up, and I’m going to enjoy my cup of coffee because I’m up 20 minutes early. Or I’m not going to work out today, and instead, I’m going to take a walk at the end of the day because you know what, working out in the morning, that’s not what I like to do so I can’t do it in the morning. I’m going to find out another time. Then find another time.
Really making a choice of, I’m going to sleep, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of these 45 minutes of sleep because I went to bed late and I’m exhausted. See you later, monger. I’m going to go to sleep. You may have to repeat that five or six times over five or six days before you really get to the point of really making the decision and not getting stuck in the trance of the monger.
A few episodes ago I talked about your biggest fan, and that is the idea of when we recognize that we’re suffering to kind of call on that biggest fan to be like, okay, what do we do here? How should I be treating myself here? Because the suffering is not something, our biggest fan would want us to do. You don’t need to be suffering. Bottom line.
Weekly Ritual Segment:
One thing that has really helped me Live Happier is adding regular ritual practices to my daily life so each week I am going to be sharing a ritual with you and challenge you to complete it
Running Errands? SLOW DOWN.
Now it’s time for the weekly ritual challenge. One thing that has really helped me live happier is adding regular ritual practices to my daily life. Each week, I’m going to be sharing a ritual with you and challenging you to complete it. This weeks ritual is super specific, but what I want you to do is when you enter a grocery store or run any errand that you have to do where you’re running in and out of the car and being kind of manic, as we tend to do when we’re running errands, I want you to repeatedly, every time you shut the door to your car as you get out to go do something whether it’s the grocery store or CVS or Target or whatever, to remind yourself, “I can slow down.” Slow down.
As you’re walking into the store just remind yourself, “There is no right way to do this. I can slow down. I don’t have to be in a hurry.” Even if you are in a hurry, I still want you to remind yourself, “I’m going to slow down and I’m going to take three deep breaths,” as you’re walking into the store because that’s a great time where we’re hopping ourselves up for like, “Oh my gawd, I have to be doing this super fast. I got to go as fast as I can. Fast, fast, fast.” That’s a great time for us to slow down and be like, “You know what? I got to get these errands done. Doesn’t matter how fast I move, I’m not going to go any faster.” I can be calm and collected and breathing as I go to do these errands.
Errand running is personally something I hate doing, so it’s become a great way for me to kind of build in some slowing down mindfulness, really being present time because I try to do them as quickly as possible and my mind get’s really hopped up. When I can walk in and be like, here we go, this is what I’m doing. I’m doing this errand and I’m going to move as calmly and collectedly as possible, we really can win and stop that unnecessary suffering again.
That’s the show. Thanks for listening. The Stories From a Quest to Live Happier Podcast comes out ever week. If you have questions or thoughts or anything you want to share, please email me at NancyJane@live-happier.com. Until next time, here’s to living happier.
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