What I'm Learning, Part 1
Part of the experience of pushing ourselves physically and experiencing discomfort is to prove to ourselves that we can. That we're strong enough. Tough enough. That we can "handle it." When we choose to suffer, our beliefs and sense of self-efficacy keep us pushing forward, allowing us to cross that proverbial finish line.
But what about when suffering chooses us? When the pain and suffering isn't something that we opted for. Like losing a job, or a loved one. What then? Are we any better prepared for it because we've chosen to train our suffer muscles? I think so.
A huge part of moving forward through life's "un-chosen" challenges is the lens through which we view them. This perspective gives the challenge fuel: emotion and belief. Our practice in suffering provides us the alternative perspective for viewing these challenges. They're a reminder that we can choose to take the alternative perspective–one more congruent with our beliefs and actions when we choose to suffer. Basically, it gives us a sense of control when we feel there is none. It shapes our resiliency, our explanatory style–how we explain life's challenges. More on that in a future article.
So, three things:
1) Get outside and suffer. Challenge discomfort. Strengthen your suffer muscles. Know that growth happens when our comfort is challenged. Every time we choose to ride up a hill or run faster, i.e. "suffer," we're growing.
2) The next time suffering chooses us, remember that we can choose a perspective which provides us a little more emotional control.
3) Practice. Yes, Allen. Practice. Though it's crucial to have the awareness of an alternative perspective, we still need to have the courage to put it into action. Practice makes progress, so pick your perspective and keep pushing forward.