Pain is Mandatory, Suffering is Optional

They say that, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. That amused me until today, when I find myself knee deep in lemons. Before I begin making the lemonade, my natural inclination is to figure out how in the heck I attracted all these lemons!

I teach the Law of Attraction and how to leverage it to attract what we want. However, I’ve always known that it is impossible to avoid pain. Believe me, I’ve tried many ways to do so. Not only did they stop working pretty quickly, they ended up plunging me into even worse pain.

So here I am, contemplating how it was that I attracted all these lemons. Let’s start the process there.

When there is a situation or circumstance we don’t want, the first thing we try to do is to push it away. We get angry, we mentally plot against our “perpetrators,” and we obsess about what’s happening to us. In other words, WE MAKE WHAT IS HAPPENING WRONG. (Put the back of your hand to your forehead and get in touch with your Inner Martyr – we all have one).

I know, I know. “Silver, I’m not making it wrong. It IS wrong.” I understand. But will that make it go away? In the history of the world, has the mere fact that something’s not right ever caused it to disappear? Unfortunately, the answer to that is “No.”

Mostly what we want when something undesirable occurs is what used to happen on TV episodes of Superman. We want our super-hero to fly around the earth backwards, causing time to reverse so that we can go back to the time when what is WASN’T.

It turns out it doesn’t matter one bit HOW I attracted these lemons. They’re here and I must deal with them.

So the first step (and by far the most difficult) in the lemonade-making process is to simply accept what is. To not accept it is as silly as saying, “I know everyone else says it’s raining outside but I don’t accept it. I don’t want it to rain. I want the sun to be out. I reject the rain.” They institutionalize people for that kind of irrational reasoning and yet we often think that way when we’re juggling lemons.

The next thing to recognize is that eating lemons as they are will not kill us. They taste awful. They make the place behind my ears cramp up in an unpleasant way. But barring a severe allergy, they won’t kill anyone. It’s just that most of us wouldn’t choose to eat them that way.

So these lemons I’m standing knee-deep in are not going to kill me. Leave a bitter taste in my mouth? Initially, but even that can be resolved.

The second part of the lemonade-making process is to understand that we don’t know what’s around the corner. Sometimes what looks like the worst thing that could happen leads us to a major opportunity. I know people who were laid off of jobs and thought their world would never be right again. A short time later, they found themselves doing work that was a much better fit and in which they were much happier.

There is an old expression, “When one door closes, another opens.” If we spend too much time looking at the door that closed, we miss the one that is invitingly open.

The final part of the process is to ask, “What’s good about this?” or “What’s the opportunity here?” For example, sometimes a relationship will end and we are devastated. But then we discover that we’re actually better off without it. We may miss our friend but we are now able to face some of the negative aspects of the relationship we were turning a blind eye to while we were in it.

The final step to making lemonade is to be grateful for what happened and the lessons it brought. Anything painful brings lessons with it. Think about that for a
moment. Haven’t your most important lessons been learned as a result of pain?

Once we can be grateful for the lessons learned, we can then drink the lemonade and enjoy the quenching of our thirst.

Pain is mandatory, suffering is optional.

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