You can't get through a television commercial break without seeing one of those medicine commercials that starts out with something like, "You don't have to suffer with (fill in the blank)."
I've been thinking about that statement over the years and have come to the conclusion that there often is good reason to permit certain kinds of suffering.
Consider how often you do something you know darn well is wrong because you just don't want to deal with the short-term suffering that comes from abstaining.
This can include anything from smoking, eating, going back to an abusive spouse, dating/marrying one alcoholic after another, working desperately to make an unloving parent care about you, and on and on.
One male caller recently told me he recognized that he always picks helpless, user women because it makes him feel needed. Although he intellectually understands the dynamic, he can't tolerate the risk of rejection from a healthy woman. He simply doesn't want to experience any pain. That pain is so necessary to his psychological growth, mental health, and ultimate happiness.
A woman in her 50s who I helped in private practice would call her abusive, critical, downright nasty mother each time she had some sort of crisis hoping against reason that today would be the day her mother would come through for her.
Of course, it never went the way she hoped. I clarified for her that she had to suffer, to mourn the absence of a loving mother, to agonize over not being nurtured by a warm, fuzzy mother. That would free her up to let those around her who were kind, compassionate and loving give her the support she needed.
Finally — finally! — she got it. She spent a good month in pain as she accepted the truth of who her mother was. It was gut-wrenching — and then it was over. She was free of a hopeless desire. From that point on, she turned to people who were there for her.
Without opening yourself to that needed suffering you will spend your years on a gerbil wheel, never getting anywhere. Do you want to make the most you can out of your life? The hard truth is that the key to growth is suffering.
Stop avoiding it. Embrace the pain. It will set you free and put you on a path to peace and happiness.
Dr. Laura (Laura Schlessinger) is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author. She appears regularly on many television shows and in many publications. Read more reports from Dr. Laura — Click Here Now.
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