I wanted to write specifically about suffering because a) I have had the unfortunate opportunity to dwell in very deep bouts of suffering for the past year and b) I am in the business of helping others who are in the midst of deep suffering and feel I have some helpful tips for those of you who may find yourself in this situation.
A great book I recently devoured on the subject is by one of my all-time spiritual gurus, Marianne Williamson called, Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment.
One of my favourite stories in the book is entitled “Eating Thorns” and demonstrates beautifully the spiritual aspect of how suffering can lead to enlightenment:
In order to create their beautiful plumage, peacocks sometimes eat thorns. Hard, pointed, razorlike objects are processed in their abdomens and then contribute feathers with colors and shapes unmatched throughout nature for their extraordinary beauty. So it is with us.
Often, that which is the hardest to digest, to process, to integrate into our life experiences is what ultimately transforms us in a positive way. We become who we are meant to be sometimes by having to eat some hard-edged, bitter thorns of human experience.
*p.29 Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment by Marianne Williamson
I could relate to this example from nature so much because I know both personally and professionally what ‘eating thorns’ looks and feels like and how much suffering is endured as a consequence. And yet, even with all of the suffering I go through and witness as a therapist, I continue to hold fast to the spiritual belief that there is often a purpose to our suffering that usually eludes us while we are going through the worst of it.
Also, as a therapist, I see my job as gently guiding people through their unique forms of suffering, helping them ‘eat the thorns’, digest them, and then be with them to celebrate the magnificent ‘plumage’ which emerges later on down the path.
You Are A Badass
Another book which takes a lighter look at suffering and how to deal with it is by Jen Sincero and is called, You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.
This book is geared towards Millennials and uses hip language which makes spiritual principles understandable, straightforward, and doable. Sincero is also wickedly funny and I got a good laugh when reading a part of the book where she warns you that when you choose to ‘go big’ and follow your dreams- even the ones that seem impossible to achieve- be ready for the proverbial s—t to hit the fan! She tells one story about a man who gave up his safe, steady yet yawningly boring and understimulating job to start his own business and all the immediate suffering which ensued- it actually included being hit by a bus!