How To Eliminate Suffering

What lives between the onset of emotional pain and the resolution of that pain is suffering.

I am learning to radically reduce the time between the onset of emotional pain and the resolution of that pain—thereby reducing or eliminating suffering.

I don’t know if it’s possible to live without pain—I don’t think so—but I’ve come to know that it is possible to minimize suffering.

To make this possible, I accept that my emotional pain is always caused by me.

I cause myself pain in one of three ways.

1. I behave in ways that I regret—and then either I beat myself up or I justify my behavior by making the other person wrong. But in making others wrong I create pain for myself.

2. I get defensive in response to another person’s projections or judgments about me. As soon as I get defensive, I close myself off—in various ways—and this isolation causes me pain.

3. I suffer a loss, and by staying attached to what I lost—in my past—I contaminate my present and future.

The solution for me is always the same.

Reduce the amount of time between the onset of my pain and the resolution of my pain.

So let’s go through the three scenarios:

1. When I behave poorly, instead of spending time beating myself up or justifying myself, I  go directly to the other person involved and redo myself. This may involve apologizing or clarifying or simply finding another way—a more mature way—to express myself. As soon as I do this, I stop suffering. This applies to all situations in my life. If I was abused as a child, the longer I wait to resolve the situation (and I believe it can be resolved), the longer I will suffer. If I am snappy or impatient with my wife, Hannah, the longer I wait to resolve the situation, the longer I will suffer.

2. When I get defensive in response to another person’s projections or judgments about me—I pain myself by denying their experience because doing so creates separation and distance between us. And I will suffer from our separation or the tension between us until I accept their experience. Only then can we work to sort out what’s my responsibility and what’s theirs.

3. When I experience a loss and fixate upon my loss, I suffer. The longer I wait to resolve my loss—and resolving loss usually involves acceptance—the longer I suffer. Resolving this kind of suffering, in my experience, is the most difficult. Loss, especially of loved ones, exists in its own time frame, and acceptance cannot be forced.

I’m glad to share these ideas with you because I believe when they are put into practice they can make a profound difference. Remember, the first step is accepting that “my emotional pain is always caused by me.” Why is that so important? Because if I am the one causing my pain I can do something about it.

My intention is to take action as soon as things don’t feel right in my life  . . . by redoing myself, by accepting another person’s experience, or by accepting loss—which can take time—and then coming back into the present.

What’s your intention?



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3 Responses to How To Eliminate Suffering

  1. Cynthia January 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Here’s to redoing myself when needed! Such an easy gift to myself – so clean feeling. I appreciate the simplicity and depth of clarity that wrote this. Thank you Jake.

  2. Jim January 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Unfortunately, no pain no gain applies to so many areas of our lives. Fortunately, awareness of this unpleasant process can strengthen us & allow for healthy personal growth if we consciously navigate these experiences & not slip back into unhealthy behavior patterns.

  3. Bruce Taylor January 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    Jake, I have taken this in me deeply. I pain myself emotionally more with the automaticity of my judgemental response to the actions of another. Since before the Ocamora Lab this past summer, and bringing it fully with me to the Lab, I have intentioned myself to be more fully aware of situations and responses in me that bring on the defensive “need” for judgement. I have come to understand in me that the judgement is a form of “protective aggression” — I give myself fear and then express the fear as judgement. I work myself to be increasingly sensitive to and aware of those situations, conditions and people, so that I simply allow what ever is said, whatever I perceive the condition — the “facts” — to be without requiring a response from me. I am learning how to do this even when sense I may have something to “lose”. I am imperfect and variable in this, and it is becoming easier by the instance.

    The word “intentional”, I believe, is a powerful word that is far to often misused. An “intention” is, indeed, a “promise” — not an “I might if I feel like it” but an “I will to the very best of my ability… I may fail, but I will not fail because I did not give it best effort. In that sense, “I intend” becomes a promise to self to allow others in me to have their experience without my making it be “about me.” To live me — do me — intentionally rather than be on the automatic pilot given to me by the past is the key to me.

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