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Do You Believe That You Are Supposed to Suffer?

By Phyllis Stein
July 04, 2011

One of the major causes for our suffering is our belief that we are supposed to. Inner Bonding gives us a way to create a new belief that allows us to exchange suffering for joy.

The concept of suffering and especially "unnecessary" suffering, suffering due to ignorance, has always been very powerful for me.  Any knowledge that promises to prevent suffering fascinates me.  Thus, the trajectory of my passions from teaching Lamaze, to research, to Inner Bonding with a few interesting detours in between.   I am not so much passionate about getting people to accept my point of view (anymore), as about trying to make sure that people who are open to hearing it know that they have a choice to not suffer.   I know that this is part of my soul’s purpose.

My mother, on the other hand, had a very different passion about suffering and self-sacrifice.  She saw it as a way to become more deserving, as a kind of wealth and entitlement.   I remember when Arthur Miller (whom my parents vaguely knew) divorced his wife to marry Marilyn Monroe, my mother’s reaction was basically that he was a terrible person because he was leaving the woman who had suffered and sacrificed with him when he was not yet a success.  My mother grew up being reminded often by her mother of how much suffering she had gone thru to have her (“19 hours on the kitchen table”).  My mother was also deeply traumatized both by the depression and by the Holocaust.  The magnitude of the unavoidable suffering caused by these things was enormous, but as a result, my suffering and distress as a little girl were hardly worth noticing (and I got that message).  Consciously, that did not make any sense, but I did not realize that I had absorbed her message that my suffering was not worth paying attention to, that I should just live with it, since it was not so bad on a relative scale.

As a child, I was consciously in a continuous state of low-level suffering and aware that not everyone I knew was, while simultaneously I was being shamed for not being willing enough to sacrifice myself.  This was relieved only when I got away from my parents and spent blissful times at summer camp.  I had no idea, until I began opening to my core feelings thru Inner Bonding that it was not low grade suffering at all, that I was actually in agony the whole time, but my point is that low level suffering felt normal to me.   Fast forward to my intimate relationships and especially to my marriage which actually took place at an Inner Bonding intensive.   At first, things were really good, but as time went on, the suffering time became a higher and higher percentage of my life and I was starting to get sick from the stress.  But here’s the thing, instead of saying to myself “Hey, you are suffering, something is wrong here,” without realizing it, I just accepted it as normal, as something I was supposed to live with and just accept while hoping that somehow it would get better. 

Many of us were taught the value of suffering as part of their religious upbringing.  Christianity, with its focus on the suffering of Christ and the suffering of a large array of martyred saints is an obvious example.  The message was that God will love you to the degree that you are willing to sacrifice and suffer for him.  I grew up in an atheist family, so in my case the message was that my mother would love me under the same rules and I refused to comply, without realizing that the message had sunk in anyway.  I suspect that is true for a lot of people.

One day, during the period right after my husband left, I had a conversation with spirit and I posted the big question.  “Am I supposed to suffer?”  And spirit did not hesitate to answer. “Of course not. I don’t want you to suffer.”  The blinders fell from my eyes instantly.  I had not even realized that I believed that suffering was something God wanted me to do, and I became aware of that false belief and its terrible consequences.  Suffering is actually an alarm, just as the pain when you put your hand on a hot stove is an alarm.  You are not supposed to leave your hand on the stove and (surprise!) you are not required to just accept the pain and observe it.  Suffering is a message from your inner child that you are not paying attention, that you are not taking loving action on his or her behalf, and you need to do something.  Suffering is not a way to serve God or to gain points.  And if you don’t take action the suffering just keeps on increasing and you feel less and less, not more and more, loved.

At the same time, I can hear you wondering, “Don’t people learn from suffering?”  Yes, of course they can choose to learn from it and they do learn from it, but I submit that choosing to suffer through self-abandonment is no more helpful than the very similar idea that “Only if I judge myself and treat myself harshly will I ever achieve anything.”  Just as you would never deliberately inflict suffering on your dog, or a friend, or a partner, or hopefully your real children, and hopefully would never decide that the suffering you inflict is good for them, I suggest that your inner child’s suffering, inflicted by your wounded self, should serve as a powerful message that impels your loving adult to take action by doing an Inner Bonding process. I know now that that if am suffering, something is off.  My little girl is infinitely grateful, indeed ecstatic, that we found Inner Bonding, because now we do have another choice and she does not have to live in suffering anymore.  For someone who came to learn about using knowledge to help prevent unnecessary suffering, it doesn’t get any better. 


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