Suffering

“the problem is not located in the person… but is external to the person”

Suffering is inevitable. We go through many difficulties in life and suffering comes in many forms. The very fact that we are thrown in this world, helpless, without any predefined meaning assigned to us brings a certain kind of anxiety. The journey of life, while moving towards death, becomes the journey of meaning making and about self-discovery, every moment. Life becomes a meaning making process, moment by moment. We don’t know and can’t be sure about what is going to happen the very next moment which brings along a certain anticipatory anxiety. To live with this uncertainty brings angst. The very existence, merely to live, to exists, brings anxiety, that is, the angst of existing.

The anxiety of separation, loss of a dear one, loss of health and vitality, financial losses, loss of work or job, loss of relationships, loss of image, loss of youth, pain of rejection, loneliness and isolation. Then there is emotional suffering about our past traumas and adversities in our life. We suffer from not getting what we desire and from getting what we don’t desire. We desire love, approval, understanding, care, comfort, autonomy and respect and we suffer when these psychological needs remain unmet.

Then there is suffering which is socially constructed and is inherent in larger social structures of privilege and institutions, the abuse and violence of patriarchy, heteronormativity, political structures which brings oppression and marginalisation of diverse abilities, neurodiversity, different identities, cast, race, religion, sexualities and genders such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex identities. We are constantly responding to these normative social constructs and subjugation. The pain and prejudice that is inflicted is internalised as negativity in many forms, namely, homonegativity, body negativity, and rejection of self, others and life.

The other kind of suffering comes from the idea of normal, that there exists something such as normal and that something is wrong with the one who doesn’t fit the norm. We end up identifying with these prejudices, biases and lack. We condition ourselves and tend to become too myopic in our perception and weave a single story of our life. We believe that we are ‘the problem’, but the fact is the problem is external which we have internalised. The solution is to learn to separate ourselves from this singular story that we have conditioned ourselves to believe, that the problem lies within us, and there is only one way of looking at things, and that there are no other truths available and the truth is singular.

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digitaltejas

TEJAS SHAH has M.Phil in Clinical Psychology (RCI), MSc in Psychology, MA in Philosophy and a Degree in Law (LL.B) from University of Mumbai; he is practising as a Chief Clinical Psychologist at Healing Studio. His research interests are consciousness, phenomenology, positive psychology, philosophical counselling and mindfulness. You can connect with him on tejas.psy@gmail.com.

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