How to Deal with Pain and Suffering

June 30, 2023

According to Tony Robbins, pain is an inherent part of life and change. However, he suggests that suffering is a choice we make. Let's delve into these concepts and explore ways to reduce pain and eliminate suffering.

Life and change go hand in hand. Change always brings something new, introducing uncertainty and risk. Pain arises from having to navigate uncertainty and making decisions about unfamiliar problems. It also stems from accepting the risks associated with implementing those decisions. Pain is an integral part of being alive, and the more change we experience, the more pain we may encounter.

Suffering, on the other hand, is a different story. It arises from blaming ourselves for what has happened or feeling incapable of handling uncertainty and embracing the risks involved. Suffering is self-generated, and we have the power to determine the extent to which we suffer.

To reduce pain, we should strive to minimize uncertainty and risk. One way to achieve this is by sharing the burden. By working as a complementary team and making decisions with mutual respect, we can decrease uncertainty. Each team member, with their unique style, contributes to the decision-making process, allowing us to learn from one another's diverse knowledge and information, thereby reducing uncertainty. Searching for a common interest and trusting each other to support it, increases cooperation and reduces risk.

Suffering is a distinct matter. It is not caused by the decision-making process, or the risks involved in implementing those decisions. Suffering arises from our choice to continually criticize ourselves, dwell on remorse, engage in self-flagellation, feel like failures, or compare ourselves to others (no matter what we achieve, there will always be someone better). To alleviate suffering, we must accept what life brings us and count our blessings, recognizing that things could have been worse.

An anecdote illustrates this point. Imagine people sitting in a circle, each sharing their problems and placing something symbolic representing their problem in the center. Afterward, they are instructed to pick up any problem from the center. Interestingly, each person retrieves their own problem. Hearing others' problems can make us grateful for the ones we have.

To avoid suffering, we must accept life as it unfolds. Analyze the changes, problems, and challenges it presents without becoming emotionally entangled. Observe them from a detached perspective, much like watching passing clouds during meditation. Go with the flow and refrain from self-flagellation, guilt, excessive analysis, or solely blaming yourself for what has transpired.

Take responsibility where it is appropriate, but avoid accusing yourself in a way that diminishes self-trust and self-respect. Such self-blame adds no value; instead, focus on what you can learn from the situation to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.

Life is an ongoing school from which we never graduate.

Feedback On Your Comments  

 To write a blog I am proud to publish takes time. This one, for instance, took 23 hours to write over three weeks so I can reflect on it and it took  over twelve rewritings. I hope you see why I cannot respond to each comment. But I will try to respond to the comments as a group.

From your comments, I understood that I need to be clearer on what is the difference in perceptions. What IS going on I believe is clear, unless you are not conscious of what you are doing. People however confuse WANT with SHOULD.

What is the difference in perceptions?

WANT looks at the VALUE you get from doing what you want, not the cost.

SHOULD focuses on the COST of not doing something. So, to avoid the cost you do what you should do. Being depressed, for instance, is not caused by what you do but by what you should do and are not doing.

So, if you do what you should do, and you want to do it, bless your happy moment. You are one happy fellow. No conflicts: “I do what I should do and I want to do it” Bravo. But do not hold your breath. The situation changes. There is no ongoing happiness in perpetuity unless you live on a different planet. Remember: there is change.


Sometimes, we do what should be done, although we do not want to do it. The cost of not doing it is too high. That is called emotional maturity.  
Second response: experiences, education, etc. impact what we want and what we believe we should do. They are not a separate impacting variable on our behavior.


Third response: one of you on a previous blog asked me to define energy. I can not. Can anyone try?



Dr Adizes

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes