Friday, August 18, 2006

Thanks Wen!

I want to thank Wen for sharing this quote:

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

I had an immediate and acute reaction when I read this. I do this, I know I do. I don't want to do this. It is so much easier to be upset and fret about a situation than it is to let it go and move on. Letting go seems to indicate that it wasn't a genuinely painful situation, that it's not significant, or else I wouldn't have gotten over it as easily. Maybe it's that I'm not worthy to be happy. I'm not entitled to leave suffering behind, and to embrace happiness and joy.

There's a lot to think about here. Maybe the most important lesson right now is that it's OK to be happy. I'm worthy to feel joy. It's OK to let go of struggles and trials, put them to rest, and be content. And that my idea of happiness, joy, and contentment doesn't have to match anyone else's ideas. I am of value, I am unique, and I am entitled to choose happiness.

Each of us is entitled to choose happiness, to be joyful and content. It doesn't make us bad people, there is no right and wrong. And while it isn't always easy to give ourselves permission to do, it's certainly worth striving for.

And as I re-read what I've written so far, it strikes me that maybe some of this is about me, and my own internal processes. But I felt that it had a lot to do with how others would perceive me. If they are to believe just how serious and significant the situation and my pain and suffering are, then I can't just let it go and move on and choose happiness, or others will never realize how deeply I suffered. Which begs the question of why in the world I care what others think of me? If I keep my familiar suffering, I know what type of reaction others will give me. I will garner their sympathy and support, encouragement, and many other things which are more complex. Things like having their admiration for being so long-suffering, and stoic. And I won't have to worry about their disapproval for not fitting into their idea of what I should feel and how I should behave.

And I think the answer is the same for whatever reason I hold onto suffering. No matter what other people think, I'm worthy to be happy, to feel joy, and to find contentment. So whether I hold onto suffering because I'm scared to let it go and embrace the unknown; or if I hold onto suffering because I'm afraid others will think poorly of me if I let it go, the answer is the same. It's OK. I'm OK. I'm of value, I'm unique, I'm worthy. And that may just be my new mantra, my affirmation. I may need to repeat that to myself and remind myself constantly, until I believe it, until it becomes ingrained in me, and comfortable.

It's OK. I'm OK. I'm of value, I'm unique, I'm worthy.