Can Suffering Be A Habit? Let’s Find Out Together Picture by Valery Sidelnykov

Do you feel as though you carry pain that you cannot get rid of?

Have you caught yourself wishing to ‘not carry that weight’ but still feeling tightness in your chest?  

For more well-succeed you may be, do you still feel that there is a part of you disheartened wandering, fragile, a bit clumsy, as Pierrot trying to put on a face a glaze of happiness where there is no joy, no drive, only sadness?

Have you been reliving some undesirable situations over and over again in your life?

You might feel lonely, but you are not alone. We are billions of Pierrots wandering in sadness. We all know that uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu.

The antidote for the painful ‘replay movies’ in life is to overcome attachment to the suffering.

Yes, I know that it might sound absurd. Who would be attached to suffering?

All of us! We might seem to overcome problems easily, but our unconscious mind and emotions may keep those sad old stories unsolved, waiting in the wings, ready to be drudged up again.

Why does this happen?

We are creatures of habits.

We all have our own way to move throughout our day, our own way to live – our ingrained rituals in how we dress, talk, eat, walk, sleep, love, feel, think, grieve, live.

We have our preferences and dislikes.

Even the most adventurous persons I have known, the ones who do not like routine and repetitiveness, have their little rituals, some small habits they do every day or before climbing Everest or jumping from an airplane to skydive.

What are your habits?

You might pray before facing something difficult or take deep breaths.
You may bless your food before eating, simply wash your hands, or just sit down and eat.
You might dress in your favorite colors, ties, bracelets, or the like before some special event.

When you practice those little routines, you remind yourself of something good, something encouraging; you remind yourself of comfort for moments where you might need to feel safe.

You may also remind yourself of someone you love who is no longer living, allowing yourself to linger on this memory or object that reminds you of that loved one, reinforcing your loyalty to this person forever.

You may have an attachment to a person, a way of living, a moment in your life, an idea, or a wish you have not realized yet.

The Power of the Unconscious

Your collection of habits, like mine, is almost entirely built unconsciously.  

Personal habits can also be as simple as greeting habits.
I always like to kiss my daughters on both cheeks before they go to school or go to bed.
It has to be two kisses at least, one on each cheek.
Ask me why, and I will tell you that I do not know! However, they always know that I will ask them to come back if one kiss is missed. And we love that.

Between my consultations, I have always taken some minutes to meditate and cleanse, just as a surgeon does between procedures. I want to make sure that my mind and emotions are clean, clear, balanced, and available to each person I see.

Our habits, consciously or not, are our expression in this world; they are the invisible fingerprints we leave around us.

In many ways, the ‘familiar’ helps us thrive in our identity, and sometimes these routines help us simply carry on.
We can fly, but we need to know there will be a place to land when we get tired or hurt.

We all do.

Suffering too can be a habit.

Some hardships in our lives are simply so devastating that they inevitably become who we are, amalgamated into our souls.

However, many sufferings can be easily turned into ashes, overcome, and put to rest.

For every pain you may have, there is always some way to detach from pain, partially or entirely.

Logically, none of us want to suffer.

Emotionally, all of us would rather have some safety, be attached to the known even if the ‘known’ hurts, than take the risk to move forward and get hurt again.  

That is what I call attachment to suffering, the habit of suffering.
So, what could be temporary becomes a habit.

Very often, I have seen the attachment to suffering in my practice.

This attachment comes in many shapes and phrases, such as “my cancer,” “my illness,” or “my sadness.”
There is a possessiveness over the illnesses and distresses and so on, which is not bad or wrong; it just needs to be seen and given direction.

Nevertheless, I do not treat these conditions. I teach ‘one to know thyself’ and give tools for self-improvement and healing. In many cases, people come to me not because they want to meditate.

Think about it: everybody is often too busy to learn something new!

My clients usually come, though, because something hurts, and they want to learn meditation and are willing to take their time to learn something new to guide them out of the woods.

Anguish, like love, makes us feel alive, and it, too, can become addictive.

We can have things, lots of them!

We can have sadness and happiness, and we can own depression and maladies if we want to. Sometimes, we need to own them. I, too, have ‘my sadness,’ mine, so mine.

However, occasionally, it is essential to make an inner examination of what we do not want to own anymore, and suffering is on this list.

Start with these questions:

  • What do you want to do or experience in the near future?
  • What repetitive stories do you want to stop living over again? What maladies do you not want to own anymore?
  • Which parts of yourself that hurt give you a sense of familiarity and safety – even if this sense of security comes from the suffering of feeling insecure? Can these parts come to an end?

You are free to decide. There is no rush.
If you decide to stick with some pain from your past because you simply do not want to let it go, that is fine, too. In many cases, we need to have these pains, to live them.

Always keep in mind that you are free to let it go when you are ready.
Repetez après mois: “I am free to let it go.”

This golden compass is your powerful tool for when and if you decide to detach from your past experiences that are determining your present and future.

How can you begin to let go of the past?  

Start with a small step: identify one suffering. 

How can you know if you are attached to it?

  • Notice if there is some aspect in your life about which you’ve complained.
  • Have you found something that helps you to lessen or overcome what hurts you?
  • When you start feeling better, have you given up on your practice?

For example, you are meditating and feeling so much better. Then, you decide to stop, and your insomnia returns.

You may have a similar experience with your exercise routine, with eating healthy, with not gossiping.

  • Do you come back to self-help practices only when you are struggling too much?
    Then, as soon as you feel better, do you loosen up or give up on your self-care?
  • Is there some area in your life where you just feel that you are doomed?

For example, you might believe that you will never have a healthy relationship, that marriage is not for you, but you wish to have a stable relationship, or you might think that you will never be loved or successful. The ‘never’ word in this scenario normally is accompanied by ‘hopeless’ feelings.

When this happens, even if you state that you wish things could be different, your logical mind might think at one level while the rest of your inner self agrees to disagree.

That is when you just carry on, living that ‘truth’ as immutable, unchangeable, and this is when you can identify the attachment to suffering.

Of course, to find yourself in this situation, you probably have had so many experiences before that it is ALMOST impossible to think life differently.

Yes, it is true that are things not in our control – many of them.

Yes, it is true that we indeed work to accept life and all the things that come with it, sweet and bitter.

But also, there are many aspects where you are the author of your book of life.
You are the writer, the editor, and the publisher.

As my dearest Carl Gustav Jung wisely said:

“ I am not what happens to me, I am what I choose to become.”

Jung’s statement is a revolutionary truth. You are not the marionette of destiny and fate.

You have the freedom to choose to become whoever you want to be with whatever has happened to you. But with freedom comes the unknown, the uncertain, which is precisely where so many of us get lost.

The known means comfort, even when the known is also painful.

Releasing attachment to suffering is your daily challenge in deciding to live your life.

You are the most important character in your book of life.

In the end, when you look back on where you have been, it will be good to review the events not as a tormented critic but as someone who is at peace about how they have lived.

To the courage that sets us free!