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  • Angelica Bennett

"To Live is to Suffer, to Survive is to Find Meaning in the Suffering"-Gordon Allport

Today's culture is all about comfort. Not only physical comfort, but also emotional, mental and spiritual comfort. Everyone wants everything quickly, everyone wants everyone to agree with and to accept them. Nobody likes to feel any level of discomfort - whether it is a traffic jam, a line at Starbucks, getting in line at the grocery store, changing a tire, or the remote control not working. There is no longer any room to disagree, to have your own opinion, or to go against what is popular.

What happened to suffering, and the value that it brings to life? Nobody that is in a healthy emotional space wants to willingly feel pain or suffer. Suffering, however, is a powerful part of the human condition. When we suffer, we grow. We learn. We experience where our limitations are, and we are faced with the ability to choose to push through them, creating a new place of strength. Suffering also propels some of us to truly find our sense of purpose.

There is a man named Viktor Frankl that everyone should know about. He wrote a book called Man's Search for Meaning. There was a period of time throughout the world that everyone experienced a tremendous amount of suffering - The Holocaust in World War II. Prior to the war, Viktor was a psychiatrist who worked with suicidal patients. As a result of Nazis, Viktor was a man who was placed in four separate concentration camps in three years. His father, mother, brother and wife were all killed.

While he was in the camps, he noticed how some of the men would die quickly, and other would not. He determined that it was a sense of purpose that helps people move through difficult situations in life. He returned to Vienna after his release and found nothing left, and he chose to lean on the theories that he came up with while he went through the war. His main focus was not to discount the struggles of life, which are normal and to be expected, but to learn how to navigate those difficulties the best way possible in order to overcome them. He believed that the notion of seeking happiness as a goal was a self defeating goal, because life is filled with moments of difficulty and struggle. Trying to avoid these, or ignore them, never learn how to manage them, or even worse, believe that you should never suffer, leads to emotional distress and unbalance.

What can we take away from this? In struggle, there is great growth and meaning. We are challenged to that place where we are forced to dig deep and make a decision about where we want our life to be. We can try to blame others, but really, we should be taking inventory of what we have done and said to bring us to where we find ourselves. The beauty and power of it all is that if you are alive, you still have the opportunity to make a new choice to drive your life where you want it to go - good or bad.

If you want to figure out how to navigate suffering and struggle in a better way, give me a call. We can take that step that may change the rest of your life, and the start of a new beginning.

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