This week a common thread has emerged in several of my interactions: how we suffer when we focus on other people’s behavior, actions and choices. Today, I was hit by an even more specific epiphany: we suffer when we judge what we perceive as other people’s suffering. We watch people that are close to us make choices that we don’t agree with. Or maybe we watch someone make a choice that we made once, that turned out to be rife with pain and more suffering when we experienced it.
There’s no preventing anyone else’s suffering. To be sure, we can certainly make conscious choices that attempt to reduce suffering in others, but we can never truly prevent suffering.
Why? Because ultimately, suffering is a personal choice. “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” goes the quote (a favorite of mine). But, what we don’t often consider is that suffering may be the exact right choice that someone needs to experience in order to get them to the exact right place on their path. It’s why I don’t truly believe in regret, even in instances where I suffered.
Your pain teaches you, and so does your sometimes prolonged suffering. Suffering is not something we necessarily need. It’s not a “pay your dues” type of equation. But, if you chose it once or many times, consider what it led you to, or what it taught you. Consider that it wasn’t wasted, because no experience is.