“It’s OK to admit we are struggling,” Nichtern says.
This new interpretation can help us to be more human and to live without pretense.
By admitting that we suffer we can then begin to find the causes and thus take steps on the path of becoming free from it.
It’s so human to try to hide or mask our suffering, trying to protect both ourselves and others from what we consider to be negative.
We often find it more comfortable to continue trying to make our life ship-shape, pretending that given enough time we can straighten out these messy conditions ourselves, when actually we may feel daunted by and unequal to the task.
How often have we told someone we are having a fine day and that things couldn’t be better when in truth we are struggling just to hang on and make it through another day?
It is undoubtedly inappropriate to share our pain with everyone we meet, but have we acknowledged it to ourselves?
It’s vital to tell ourselves the truth. As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” Or else we certainly won’t be able to be true to anyone else.
When things get a bit rocky we might note how much energy we are using by trying to keep the lid on the turmoil we don’t know how to deal with.
We just might try the first step of AA: We admit our powerlessness over such things as alcohol, drugs, using food to comfort our pain, shopping and trying to control outcomes—and that we haven’t done such a great job of managing our lives.
Just admitting this brings relief!
The 2nd step in AA is to turn to a Higher Power that can alleviate said suffering.
The Buddha declared he taught only one thing: suffering and the relief from suffering.
By admitting that we are suffering and becoming willing to look into its causes, we find that suffering begins to loosen its grip.
We see that our attachment to the things that brought us comfort had been running our lives. And the things we tried to avoid took a huge amount of our energy.
In fact we spent so much time trying to maintain our comfort zone that our creativity went out the window.
The key to all joy and happiness is within, but first we need to admit that our personal plan isn’t working so well!
After all it’s not easy to navigate our way through life when the unexpected keeps occurring. People get sick. They die. We get into financial difficulties and experience relationship problems that seem unsolvable and heartbreaking.
And perhaps our deepest fear is knowing—really getting it—that our body has a shelf life. It’s just like anything else made of matter. It’s impermanent.
How do we live in a world that is constantly changing shape and becoming something we don’t recognize?
We now comprehend there is global warming and that the seas are rising. Of course we struggle!
Who wouldn’t be uncomfortable living with these threats?
Each moment is filled with the unknown and the truth is that none of us was born with a manual, a road map. How do we find our way?
Admitting we are struggling may seem counter intuitive, but by doing so we have opened a way into a solution.
At first it may be a small opening, but something hard and solid has cracked.
The shell around our heart has broken open. The defenses we built to hide the things we fear are crumbling.
Now we are like the hero on a journey, walking into the unknown, not sure where we will end up, but taking the steps knowing something will show up for us.
Something that is more powerful than anything we knew in the outer has us in its hand and won’t let us go!
Things are never what they appear. There is always a larger picture.
When we learn to step back, breathe, give ourselves some space and wait for guidance in whatever form it comes, things change.
Amazing isn’t it?
When we stop thinking of ourselves as independent, solitary beings our world changes.
Can we accept that we are right where we are this moment, be it hurt, sadness or anger, that’s what it is?
And we’re not alone. There is a whole lot of humanity feeling as we are. For none of us has a manual. And if we think we do it’s just writing on the sand. As soon as the tide changes, it will be gone.
But as we admit this we turn to that which is higher, greater, and that lives in the unknown and the unborn.
By admitting our suffering we are already in our heart. We have moved from head knowledge to heart understanding.
“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.”
Patiently listening to ourselves and others, caring about each other, and wanting to be part of the solution without trying to dictate the outcome brings joy and happiness.
Living in the Truth of our Beingness brings the end of suffering!