Suffering and Sufferings of Others

Lately I have been seeing this. Ending suffering is a fine concept that may belong in a perfect world but seems useless as a philosophical statement for living our lives. Reducing suffering is always possible. I can see how I’m suffering and finds way to reduce that. In the daily recollection there is a statement I truly love: “If I am suffering it’s because I’m choosing something over ending suffering.” Exactly so. l can notice and reduce my suffering, but at a price. I may have to let go of something.

There are many kinds of suffering, as many as there are people who suffer. It has been said that suffering is a mental construct, a way of thinking that can be changed. Perhaps that’s true in the moment, but long term there are billions of events that will enable suffering if we are indeed human. Some say others suffering can be witnessed not taken personally, and for a lot of experiences I find that to be helpful.

But I can’t always step back and witness OTHER’S suffering. I am aware that the encouragement is to witness suffering and to realize that it’s not mine. Know what? That sounds right unless the suffering is about someone I love. That includes all those I consider family or with who I have close emotional ties. Then the only thing I can do is share that suffering in my own way. It’s a razor thin edge that moves from compassion about others suffering from a distance to sharing the suffering directly.

Sharing suffering does something I find remarkable. It diffuses the suffering, I take on some of that suffering and respond from that place. This may be closer to the real meaning of compassion, a shared cognitive emotional communion that lessens the impact of another’s experience. It isn’t about the experience of suffering, that’s a human trait that exists to some degree because we are human, it’s what we do with the suffering that matters. We can dwell on it and make it stronger or we can acknowledge the suffering, share it, and find ways to diminish it.

Caring is powerful when enacted, care deeply and see what happens.

Bryan Wagner

6 thoughts on “Suffering and Sufferings of Others

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  1. Beautiful testimony Bryan. I feel we can all relate to what you’ve shared here. As a highly sensitive and aware individual, for many years I had two modes. Either I cared so much that I felt weighed down and turned off to my own needs Or I isolated and hid from others to avoid feeling their pain, numbing myself with substances in the process. Now I live intentionally and by priority of allowing live to flow through myself and in and around others, keeping a careful watch to maintain my own self care first. We aren’t to abolish suffering completely because there will always be distraction, disruption and chaos in the world. You have often focused on the need for kindness and more compassion. This is something we each can contribute that would inject more love into our society, to help balance everything. Great topic. It’s one I ponder often and pray about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I so appreciate your journey and perspectives. I know I encourage kindess but attempt to stay aware that not everyone chooses to be kind outside of thier own tribe. And some appear unable to be compassionate and kind without some kind of return. So, in essence the idea of acting as a counterweight to suffering seems so worthy of adopting as a life philosophy. Thank you for a most thoughtful and helpful response.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful post and I love the message of sharing in other’s suffering being closer to compassion.
    I sometimes share in the suffering of others, by usually feeling deeply sad about the situation. I see or hear certain things and it just gets to me, maybe because on some level I have a connection to the situation, or a deep love for the sufferer.
    Other times people could be trying to get me to understand their pain and share in it, people I care about too but then I don’t, I think to myself that they are making a fuss, enjoying their suffering and just want to spread it, not end it, then I consciously decide not to participate in that pain. Guess that’s where it can be considered a mental construct.
    Some people believe it or not enjoy pain, they look for it and continuously attract it, then they pass it on to others (energy vampires), let’s beware of such persons too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, well said! Emotional vampires can eat us alive if we don’t stay in attention. It took me a while to get that as a counselor, they eat emotional energy to stay alive. At least that’s my experience. Take care of you my friend! Good to hear from you! Big smile.

      Liked by 1 person

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