If we were to classify all the suffering in the world, I bet it could likely all fall into one (or more) of only a handful of categories:
* Things didn’t work out the way I hoped or expected/Things aren’t going the way I wanted them to.
* Someone said or did something I didn’t like.
* Something someone did made me feel threatened/offended/hurt.
* I feel lonely/rejected/neglected/abandoned.
* I don’t feel connected to others/People don’t understand me.
* I’m grieving the loss of someone.
There’s probably a few more, but for the most part, in a modern world, I think all our suffering could generally (albeit broadly) fit into one of the above six categories. But what I also came to realize is that not only is our suffering one in the same, but so is our response to it.
If we were to then categorize how we respond to our suffering, the grandiosity in our response is almost entirely based off the amount of control we think we actually have in any given situation, which is more often than not, overly miscalculated.
In other words, the more control we think we have, the more extreme our response. The less control we think we have, the less extreme our response.
For example (and these categories are far more extensive):
* I can change their mind or teach them to do what I want them to do or behave they way I want them to behave so that I don’t have to feel like this anymore.
* If I do x, then I can make this situation change towards my liking so that I don’t have to feel like this anymore.
* If I fill my life/mind//body/etc. with x, y, z, I won’t have to feel like this anymore.
Perhaps the extent of the damage we cause in trying to relieve ourselves from our perceived suffering can be minimized when we finally accept and realize that we cannot control others, and in almost all other cases of suffering, there isn’t much we can do about shit that didn’t go the way we wanted it to. Just like the joy that comes in and out of our life, suffering is simply a part of that: the opposite side of the spectrum. Without one you can’t have the other, and as much as we like to delude ourselves into thinking the opposite, there is not one single person on Earth that is immune from suffering.
In the above cases, we see that we are trying to control external circumstances, which can sometimes be seen as “working” until we realize it wasn’t a long term viable solution, but rather a short-lived distraction to get us by until we can find another one. We’re constantly on the search for an escape from suffering or discomfort. This feels like a constant war with the world, which has got to feel like a truly crappy way to live.
Eventually, we come to realize that the only thing we will ever have control over is our attitude and how we face suffering and discomfort. It won’t make reality any different than what it is, but at least you are no longer going to war with reality. You stop fighting others because you realize we are all one in the same. You become allies with Life. You come to understand your fellow humans a little better. And life gets just a little bit easier, because you get just a little bit better at dealing with it.