“I suffer, therefore I am.” Though René Descartes went with “think” as the first verb, I’m wondering if he’d have had a problem with this version of his philosophical proposition. I mean, within the realm of the emotional/mental disorders, it’s always about the suffering. But I gotta’ ask, is suffering necessarily a bad thing?
Our suffering can greatly benefit others. There is no better way to overcome our own suffering than to reach-out to suffering others with an offering of comfort and assistance.
- To endure death, pain, or distress.
- To sustain loss or damage.
- To be subject to disability or handicap.
Human beings suffer. “I suffer, therefore I am.” Right? However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say human beings who endure emotional/mental disorders suffer ever so much more than the average Joan or Joe.
And because of the frequency of our suffering, and the over-and-over-and-over-again devastating fallout, suffering most often equates to – well, badness.
Who could find that hard to understand?
But is it possible suffering is good for us? Now, I know that’s a tall acceptance order. Still, could it be possible? And if we do, in fact, accept the supposition, does life with an emotional/mental disorder become (much) easier to tolerate?
My answer is “Yes.”
10 Reasons Why Suffering Is Good for Us
So now that I’ve stuck my neck out, I’d better be able to back-up my “suffering is good for us” claim. Will these work?
- Consider our opening proposition: “I suffer, therefore I am.” It’s a heck of a way to do it; however, suffering provides indisputable proof that all that makes us a functioning human being is in working order. Yes, suffering is evidence – confirmation – of being alive (though feeling pretty much dead).
- Psychotheorist Viktor Frankl believed life can’t be complete without suffering. He ups the ante by proposing the way we accept our suffering adds a deeper meaning to our lives. And he challenges us to be worthy of our suffering. Of note, Frankl was influenced by Fyodor Dostoevsky, who said, “There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.”
- The management of our suffering calls us to procure, and turn-to, internal and external coping and inspiration resources. Included may be the willful development of inner-strength and maturity, as well as securing and participating in spiritual – higher-power – relationships.
- Our suffering can greatly benefit others. There is no better way to overcome our own suffering than to reach-out to suffering others with an offering of comfort and assistance.
- Speaking of reaching-out, suffering can motivate us to seek connection and assistance from others. How soothing it is to be comforted by someone who’s been, or is, there.
- Suffering provides fresh perspective – clarity – on who we are as individuals at any given moment. The same applies to our place in our immediate environment – and world.
- Suffering keeps us humble.
- The motivation to expand ourselves – grow – is often difficult to come by. Suffering can bring it in large quantities.
- Suffering is the gateway to acceptance of our circumstances – and self. If we deny suffering, we deny our very existence.
- Without suffering, there is no relief and healing. According to psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck, symptoms (suffering, right?) are the beginning of the cure. He even goes so far as to say symptoms are a phenomenon of grace – a call to initiate self-examination and repair.
Let’s Wrap It Up
“I suffer, therefore I am.” A perfectly reasonable proposition, if you ask me. And it doesn’t at all imply suffering is bad. No, we’ve created that association.
Those of us enduring emotional/mental disorders suffer – in so many ways – badly. You gotta’ know I get that. However, through it all there just has to be acceptance. I mean, to expect to live without suffering, or deny its existence, will only bring frustration, misery, and great gnashing of teeth.
Would it help, then, to create an association between suffering and goodness? Yeah, I think I’ve made the case.
How will you do it? Share in a comment?
P.S. Several hours after posting this piece, I was messing around on the web. Okay, I’m a huge Michigan State football fan and was doing some catching-up. Little did I know I’d come upon the very essence of this article in real-life context. Please read Article #1 and Article #2.
More insight on suffering and all things mood and anxiety disorders? Hundreds of Chipur titles.