A dear friend of ours, Kevin, who passed away after a painful battle with cancer AND multiple sclerosis had many wise sayings. One of his best was, “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
He explained that his illnesses caused him pain, real pain! However, he did not suffer. He chose to embrace the pain as part of the illness, and in doing so, he endured the pain and set out to enjoy life to the fullest. He refused to let the pain turn into suffering, which had he done so would have deprived him of living his life fully each day.
This concept got me thinking. In our jobs, “pain” can show up as deadlines, long days, unfair supervisors, cultivating prospects, and planning to name a few. If we anticipate this pain and deal with it head-on, we could overcome it quickly.
Most of us fight the pain, which turns to suffering. We waste energy trying to avoid the inevitable, which causes us to suffer unnecessarily. It is much better to accept the painful task or event, and do what needs to be done, rather than spend negative energy talking about it and doing nothing productive. We control the suffering. We talk ourselves into suffering. We DO NOT control the pain. Yet, we can easily turn pain into suffering.
Have you created your own brand of suffering?
Written by: John J. Corcoran
President & CEO