Suffering Is A Choice. Or Is It?


Meditation is a regular, if not daily, part of my overall wellness routine. I love the quick, guided meditations from a health and fitness mobile app like Aaptiv. Meditation offers me a few much-needed mental breaks throughout the day or evening. To put it simply, I think it provides you the time to be alone with your thoughts—which is hard to come by these days while most of us are spending more and more time at home with kids and partners.

Suffering Is A Choice. Or Is It? | Duluth MomRecently, the audio narrator from one of my favorite guided meditations said,

“Suffering is a choice. Instead, choose to see the lesson and break the bind. Don’t diminish your capacity for greatness with victimhood.” 

This struck me as perfect timing considering many of us are feeling like victims during this pandemic—like victims of trauma. Believe me, I know what that feels like. I am a survivor of sexual assault and am still healing from it. This meditation also came at a time when a friend called and asked me for advice in regards to getting a divorce. 

Making Hard Life Decisions

She was asking for my opinion, but instead I tried to empower her with the notion that she should follow her own intuition. I offered up a few stories in my own past and how I’ve come to make difficult decisions. Life’s hard decisions should be yours to make alone, because you ultimately have to live with your choices. 

However, after repeating the words from my meditation in my head—suffering is a choice—I thought to myself, is my friend intentionally choosing to suffer in her current situation, or perhaps what I perceive as suffering and victimhood, she may feel is her ideal option right now. 

I thought, “She is a mother to young kids in an unhappy marriage, as well as enduring abuse from her spouse—how could she stay in a situation like that and keep on suffering?” Perhaps, fear of change and the unknown could be the answer. Fear drives so many unhealthy choices and behaviors, but I tried to use more empathy to understand her situation. Perhaps she believes that suffering is okay in this moment and outweighs the unknown options. 

I don’t think anyone intentionally chooses to suffer or chooses to make the wrong decisions in life (unless of course in the case of criminals, etc.). But, instead we are simply using the knowledge we’ve acquired up to that moment to make the best decisions we can. 

Suffering Is A Choice. Or Is It? | Duluth MomAdoption Was My Choice

In my life, when I was 19-years-old, I placed my daughter for adoption—wishing and dreaming of a better life for her. What I didn’t know at the time was that by the time she turned ten, her adopted parents would be divorced and she’d be shuffled back and forth between two different homes every two weeks across Minnesota. 

All I knew at the time was that the adoption couple seemed like they had a healthy marriage and I was heartbroken that such a loving couple couldn’t conceive of their own children. So, at the time adoption was the best choice for myself and my birth daughter. Did I make the right choice? For her and I at the time, absolutely yes. Although, if I had known the future, would I have made a different choice—maybe. But, of course the future is impossible to know!  

Find the Lesson and Seek Change

Back to my friend’s situation: in all truthfulness, I want her to move on from the painful situations she’s currently in. There I said it. I think she is suffering and needs to run from victimhood. I’m hoping her intuition guides her to see the lesson and move on, but it’s not my decision to make. It’s not my life. 

So, I bring this back to you. Is there anything in your life causing some suffering? Sometimes, we need to sit with our suffering for a while to process difficult events. However, more often, we’re afraid of change and what it takes to break the bind from suffering. 

If you’re ready, I challenge you to intentionally seek healthy change in that area. Dig in and ask yourself honestly, “Is it necessary to be suffering right now?” We are all humans suffering from one thing or another, but it’s up to us to either endure the suffering, or find the lesson and choose to look for more joy.