We all know how wonderful the fact is that when we get a headache
we can reach for an aspirin and make the pain go away.
But… do we have anything that prevents headaches?
What about other kinds of suffering?
Accidents? Failures? Losses?
Don’t you wish we had some way to prevent
at least some of some of those?
Actually, we can prevent more of our own suffering than we think.
Are you willing to consider my ideas on how?
Let’s DO this!
The power of a question
During my own psychoanalysis, I had to face the highly unpleasant fact
that a great deal of my suffering in life could have been prevented.
At 26, I had already suffered extensively.
But I was astonished when I came to realize that
most of it had not been inevitable.
Indeed, I had unknowingly set a great deal of it up.
Or simply passively allowed it to happen to me.
Yes, seeing this was one heck of a shock.
Fortunately, I was able to view the recognition as liberation.
My analyst wasn’t blaming me, he was explaining me.
With the recognition came a newfound sense of power.
It meant I could begin to live differently.
I could begin to take steps to prevent much of my own suffering.
My analyst taught me how to do that.
He taught me how to ask powerful questions of myself.
Questions that challenged my unhealthy unconscious inclinations
I learned to do this, and over the years since then
I have been able to reduce my suffering to a minimal level.
I continue to challenge myself with powerful questions every morning.
Exposed to the light of day, my inclinations toward suffering
lose their power.
An example of self created suffering
Let’s take the example of a car accident,
one caused by the driver.
As you know, such accidents are extremely common
and result in many, many deaths.
I believe a great many, if not most, of those accidents could have been prevented.
How, you ask?
OK. Work with me.
Let’s immunize Dr. Hall against having a car accident
How can we reduce the chances of such a terrible occurrence?
(Well, she won’t be driving under the influence.
Doesn’t touch a drop of alcohol.
But she acknowledges she is perfectly capable
of having a car accident without it.)
So what question shall we give Dr. Hall to challenge herself with?
Let’s give her a doozy!
Let’s give her a taste of her own medicine!
OK. Here is our prescription:
Every single time she gets in a car, she has to ask herself this question:
Why do I want to be destroyed in a car accident?
Good grief, you say.
That is awful.
Surely she doesn’t have any such wish?!?!?
I mean, maybe Tiger Woods had that wish…
but our dear Dr. Hall???
And Dr. Hall replies:
Well, very few of the people who die after drinking and driving
or after speeding 40 MPH over the speed limit
CONSCIOUSLY wanted to be destroyed.
But every one of them had that unconscious inclination.
If they didn’t, there is no way they would have been
drinking and driving, or speeding like there was no tomorrow.
So: what we have to do is challenge our unconscious inclination to suffer.
Asking ourselves tough questions is how we DO that.
So we had to give Dr. Hall some tough love.
We had to tell her:
Yes, Dr. Hall.
In order to protect yourself (and others)
from the pain and destruction of a car accident
you must challenge your unconscious attraction to it.
Every single time you get in the car to drive,
as we said before,
you must ask yourself:
Why do I want to be destroyed in a car accident?
Challenging yourself in this way, Dr. Hall, will cause you
to drive more carefully.
Without drinking, texting, speeding, taking drugs, or indulging in road rage.
You will drive much better, and you and others will be more safe.
Thank you, my friends
Thank you (gag) for that tasty medicine!
Couldn’t have stirred it up better myself!!!
I have been giving myself this very medicine for years.
And it has helped me to drive much better and more safely.
I take a dose of a number of powerful questions like this every morning.
My medicine tastes terrible.
As one of my clients put it, it’s like eating peanut butter
with ground glass in it.
But it works. 🙂
I am explaining. Not blaming.
Giving you insight into how to prevent your own suffering.
I am explaining your part in the process
only in order to free you, not beat you up.
These questions, these challenges, are not accusations.
They are tools for freeing us all from our attachment to suffering.
So what are some questions we can ask ourselves?
Here are a few, just to get you started:
Why do I ignore warning signs that I am heading toward suffering,
and proceed anyway?
Before I drink and drive, why do I accept the inner lie
that says: “You can handle it”?
Why do I fall for the same old inner lie (on food, booze, drugs, sex)
that led to my suffering the last time?
I am sure you can come up with other questions
that are particularly relevant for you.
When we create a challenging question
we expose our part in our suffering,
and we throw a monkey wrench into the works.
We no longer accept our suffering as inevitable and unavoidable.
We say NO, we do NOT surrender to our unhealthy inclinations.
So much of our suffering can be prevented.
And even when that is not possible, it can still be reduced.
Taking our medicine isn’t fun, but it will prevent a great deal of pain.
What question can you create to challenge yourself
in an area where you might suffer?
I hope you will write and tell me!