#1097 Legitimate Suffering

Let’s Allow It and Stop Multiplying It

In our last +1, we talked about falling UPWARD and the fact that life will (hate to continue to break the news to you) involve suffering.

I mentioned the phrase Richard Rohr uses to capture the power of this. He calls it “necessary suffering.”

That’s actually a play on some Carl Jung wisdom.

As Richard tells us: “Carl Jung said that so much unnecessary suffering comes into the world because people will not accept the ‘legitimate suffering’ that comes from being human.


Want to decrease UNNECESSARY suffering? Embrace the NECESSARY suffering.

Which reminds me of our whole S = P x R equation.

Remember it?

Suffering = Pain x Resistance.

As Kristin Neff tells us in her great book Self Compassion, a certain amount of “pain” is inevitable. But… We MULTIPLY the suffering by the amount we RESIST that pain.

In her words: “I once went on a meditation retreat with a wonderful teacher named Shinzen Young, who gave me words of wisdom that I’ll never forget. He said that the key to happiness was understanding that suffering is caused by resisting pain. We can’t avoid pain in life, he said, but we don’t necessarily have to suffer because of that pain… he chose to express these words of wisdom with an equation: ‘Suffering = Pain x Resistance.’ He then added, ‘Actually, it’s an exponential rather than a multiplicative relationship.’ His point was that we can distinguish between the normal pain of life—difficult emotions, physical discomfort, and so on—and actual suffering, which is the mental anguish caused by fighting against the fact that life is sometimes painful.

That’s Today’s +1.

Got any pain in your life right now?

Let’s step back.

See if we can breathe into it. Allow it to be present. Accept it as a normal, necessary (!) part of life.

And alchemize it into fuel for our hero’s journey as we humbly step forward into the next best version of ourselves.

Here’s to falling upward.


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