Suffering Less

After having a bit of a roller coaster week, I looked to my favorite website, Tiny Buddha, for some guidance, and I found this…

7 Ways to Suffer Less

I’ve read countless things on the site before…many of which have struck me in ways beyond description. But you know when you’re feeling all of these emotions and you really crave finding that one thing that will totally sum up how you’re feeling or will just…click? That’s exactly how I felt when I read this.

I just recently talked about my continued struggle with being too nice and one of the first things Michele says in her article is that she was a doormat. As I read through the 7 points and the examples she gave, I felt like I was reading my autobiography; like I was reading my own experiences through someone else’s words.

I never really realized how deep my people pleasing went. That my intense fear of saying the wrong thing or having someone be mad at me was because I wasn’t accepting myself. That I’ve made so many decisions and had so many thoughts about what other people wanted, what other people were thinking, and how other people would react…that I totally lost myself in there somewhere.

She reiterated the idea that you teach people how to treat you too. When you let someone make you an option or an afterthought, when you let someone take advantage of your kindness, when you don’t stand up for yourself…you’re teaching people that that’s how you should be treated because maybe you feel like that’s how you deserve to be treated.

I’ve never liked confrontation or conflict but when I thought about why that was, it circled right back to people pleasing. I’m hesitant to share my opinions or call someone out (even if they deserve it) because I don’t like the idea of anyone ever being mad or upset with me. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. And to an extent…of course that’s ok, and of course that’s a good thing, but not at the expense of losing myself or not factoring in my wants and needs.

#4, 5 and 6 really hit me too. When people hurt us or take advantage of us in life, it’s so easy to get angry. It’s easy to write them off, call and them bad people but what’s hard is realizing that maybe they’re doing the best they can. Realizing that they’re a work in progress too and even though the hurt they cause or the decisions they make aren’t fair to those they hurt, being angry doesn’t do anything to hurt them back. There’s a Buddhist quote I always try to remember when I’m angry (sometimes successfully, others not so much) that says, “Anger is like drinking poison, expecting it to kill the other person.” Being angry at someone who hurt you isn’t going to hurt them back. It’s not going to cause them the same hurt you might be feeling. All it’s going to do is weigh us down. In fact, just like Michele says, it ties us to them even more. It’s giving them power over us and over our lives and that’s no way to live. It’s really really hard and something I struggle with and will likely continue to struggle with. It seems like acknowledging we’re all works in progress with those who have wronged us is weak. It feels like we’re letting them off the hook if we’re not mad at them or holding them accountable in our minds and in our hearts. But in reality, letting go…forgiving…is one of the strongest things we can actually do.

I could probably write a 10 page manifesto on how much I loved this piece and how I intend to print it out and hang it up in my room for those days where I’m feeling angry. Where I’m putting others needs too far above my own. Where I’m trying to people please. But I encourage you to read it for yourself and see what kind of fruitful enlightenment it might provide you with.

If there was an Oscars or Golden Globes for blogs or websites…Tiny Buddha would deserve all of the golden statues in the world.

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