Pain is Natural, Suffering is Personal

What state are you in now, right this moment? Take a moment to relax, breathe, and drop into mindfulness of the present moment.

OK. Are you here, present, reading? Or..?

The ability to see your state of mind is a wonderful tool. When you cannot see your state of mind you are effectively blind. If you do not know your state of mind you cannot be clear about why you are doing whatever it is that you are doing. If you do not know where you are at, how can you tell what to do next?

Human minds constantly chatter with thoughts. Sometimes mind chatter comes and goes and does not hook us. At other times we cognitively fuse with a particular story the mind chat is telling us. When we are cognitively fused, we are trapped seeing the content of our mind as the literal truth. For example, if we were fused with the thought “My friend thinks I am a loser” then we will have reactions that are controlled by the idea we are fused with.

Pain is natural; suffering is personal. Pain can happen anywhere anytime– it is not dependent on your state of mind. When we humans stub our big toes, we all hurt. This sort of pain happens to us through natural processes that can be described by fields like medicine and physics. The pain in the big toe does not depend on the individual mind.

Personal suffering, on the other hand, depends on the individual. For example, one individual might feel deep shame for accidentally wearing mismatched socks while another person just laughs about it, could care less, and moves on. The suffering is not about the socks, it is about the individual’s mind.

Suffering cannot happen unless we are cognitively fused. To end your personal suffering defuse from whatever mind chat that has captured you.

Take the example given above of wearing mismatched socks. To feel ashamed about mismatched socks, there have to be family, social, or cultural rules someone has learned that say it is shameful to make a mistake or something along those lines. The different colored socks have no intrinsic ability to make any human feel one thing or another. Whoever feels shame (or anything, really) about wearing mismatched socks has some sort of cognitive fusion up and running.

Most of us go in and out of cognitive fusion throughout the day. It is the nature of the mind. If you are suffering, you are fused. If you notice that you are suffering, detach from the cognitive fusion, the mind chat, and return to the now.

What state are you in now, right this moment? Take a moment to relax, breathe, and drop into mindfulness of the present moment.

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