• Lifes Apprentice

Are you causing your Suffering?

There are two main causes of suffering: External and Internal.

External causes of suffering include the things that you have no control over, such as death, poverty, physical illness or a person calling you a fat, ugly cow for no apparent reason. You have no control over these things happening. You may have an influence on them, but you do not have the final say on whether they actually happen or not.

What you do have control over are Internal causes of suffering. I don't mean internal as in a physiological sense, what I am talking about is suffering caused by your thoughts and emotions.

A lot of suffering comes from a lack of understanding of what is in and out of your control. As humans, we tend to desire or dislike things that we cannot completely control; a promotion, new relationship, your football team winning the match.

Therefore when our desires don't come true or we don't achieve them, we feel miserable, frustrated, shameful and any other negative emotion you can think of.

The same goes for the things we dislike. Maybe, you have a strong dislike of rain, so when it rains when you want to go for a picnic, you become angry, upset and the rest of your day is then 'ruined'

You see, a strong dislike or aversion is also a type of desire: the desire to avoid misfortune.

What can I do to change this?

Instead, you need to begin to develop a desire for what you can be guaranteed to achieve because when your desires are aligned with what you can completely control, you are guaranteed not to be unhappy regardless of the outcome.

In other words, you need to know what you are in complete control of and what you are not.

Check out my blog post on Life's No.1 Secret here to see what you can and cannot completely control.

By transferring your aversions from things that you cannot control to the things you can, you will ultimately never occur anything to which you are averse to.

Here is an example of my own experience

Somebody says something rude to me and I feel aversion towards them, alongside negative feelings of misfortune. I experience the same feelings of aversion the next time I see them, so that every time I see them, I feel dread.

To overcome and change these negative feelings I have (because the other person will not be feeling them) I have to understand that I cannot control the other person’s actions or words.

What I can control is if I tell that person that what they said, in my opinion, was rude or I can control how I interpret their actions or words as being ‘rude’. I could ignore it or lay it off as banter, therefore prevent myself from any present or future suffering.

Where does internal suffering come from?

All of the internal sufferings that you may experience comes from your thought processes, your beliefs and the stories in which you tell yourself. You are in control of all of these things, however, you may not be consciously aware of this fact.

Therefore, you are causing your own suffering through the internal associations and interpretations that you put on things outside of your control. It is not the rain that has caused the rest of your day to be rubbish, but your interpretation of what the rain means to you. Change that and you will begin to banish your suffering. Sure, you still might be a little pissed off that you can't go out on your picnic, but it is not going to ruin your whole day, and with a freed up mind you will be able to problem-solve; have the picnic inside maybe or create a shelter in the garden.

Take control.

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