It’s just like any standard Saturday afternoon. Well, at least a standard Saturday afternoon for you. You’ve gotten dressed for the day and are about to head out. You start crying. Why? Because even though you hadn’t been focusing on it for a few minutes, your momentary relief is quickly severed as you resume thinking about your mother’s death. She died 2 years ago. You think to yourself “God what is wrong with me! Why can’t I get over this? I’m such an idiot”. You felt horrible already and now, as you judge yourself for your grief, you begin to suffer more and feel even worse.
The solution? Accept it.
Sounds weird, right? Suffering is painful. Suffering is hard. Why would you want to ACCEPT your suffering?
Acceptance Is Not Approval
Well first of all, it is important to realize that accepting your suffering is not the same as approving of your suffering. By accepting your suffering, you are in no way saying it is OK, good, or something that is wanted. However, what you are doing is actively choosing not to fight the reality of your situation. In the example of the death of a mother, you are not approving of her death or saying it was OK or good. What you are doing is no longer fighting the fact that she died. You aren’t cursing your higher power for her death because she is gone and you have accepted it. You also are not judging yourself for grieving her death.
Don’t Pile Suffering On Top Of Suffering
When we are struggling to accept an aspect of a troubling or deeply upsetting situation, we are piling suffering on top of suffering. You are already grieving the loss of your mother. This is reasonable and understandable. However, judging yourself for being sad about her death or refusing to accept that she is gone is compounding and significantly amplifying what you are feeling. Grieving someone’s death or frankly anything you are dealing with is already enough without adding on to it. You don’t deserve to suffer that much and it doesn’t make it any easier to start feeling better.
When You Think You Deserve To Suffer
Some people struggle to feel better not only because they are compounding their suffering but also because some part of them feels they deserve to suffer. Maybe you had a bad relationship with your mother and you have convinced yourself that if you aren’t ongoingly grieving her death then you may actually be the bad daughter you think you were. Or maybe you think that to stop grieving means you are forgetting about her. It’s possible you feel that you feel you deserve to be punished for things you did in your relationship with your mother and your grief serves that purpose.
Whatever your rationalization is for thinking you need to continue to feel sad, pain, or suffering, it needs addressing in order for you to begin to reduce your distress. Suffering does not help anything. It simply makes you miserable. You cannot make up for past deeds by punishing yourself. What happened, happened. Moving forward does not mean you did not care or do not care about someone or something. Moving forward in life is normal and healthy. No one deserves to be punished except maybe Hitler.
Learning to address and effectively manage thought processes is important to reducing suffering. Accepting suffering is a first step. Sometimes people may need extra help or support in doing so.
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