Suffering = discomfort x resistance

 
 

It is always the interpretation that causes our suffering, not the situation itself. 


The stories that we tell ourselves about what is happening - and in particular, the need that we have for things to be different, to control our environment - are the biggest sources of our suffering. If we fully accept life, exactly as it is in this present moment, we have the ability to reduce our suffering.

Other people, and what they do are completely outside of my control. I am not in control of circumstances or events, however, I am in control of how I react to those people, places and things and so events that are outside of my control may bring me fear, but my suffering is caused by my reactions, and not the events themselves. 


Kristen Ulmer talks about suffering in an equation that you might like:

Suffering = discomfort x resistance

Discomfort is the thing that is causing the fear. Say for example, you have to give a presentation in front of 1000 people. You can't change it, and you're pretty scared. It's giving you a 9/10 discomfort rating. 


Resistance to this discomfort is the feeling that "I don't want to feel this way". That's the voice that shuts down the fear. "Nope, I won't listen, la la la", I'll watch something on TV to avoid thinking, I'll listen to an audiobook, anything to avoid thinking and hearing what I'm afraid of put into words. 


If that's pretty high, say a 10/10, then your overall suffering is going to be at 90%. That's a lot of suffering. 


So looking back at what we can control, you still have a great way to reduce your suffering. You can't reduce the discomfort, that is what it is, but you can stop resisting the feeling. 
Sit with the fear, whether you have control over it or not. Write it down. Feel it in your body and say thank you. 


Now your resistance is 1/10 and your overall suffering is down to 9%. 

 
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Nadine Cameron Ward