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Alleviate Suffering by Changing Your Perspective

by Harinder Ghatora Mental Wellbeing Personal Empowerment Emotional Wellbeing

I don’t know what’s been going on with the planet’s energy patterns recently, but these last few months have been tough.

Have you found that too?

I certainly have.

I’ve seen difficult issues surface in my own life, my family’s lives and in my clients’ lives. Everyone seems to be sicker, more fearful, and more distressed than usual.

At the end of March I was told I was burnt out, so I took heed and had a complete break from everything: this did me immense good. I now feel like I’m getting back to my usual positive and energetic self. The time out not only allowed me to regenerate and rejuvenate, it also made me consciously aware of a mental strategy I often resort to when life gets challenging.

This strategy involves seeing what’s happening in a different way: adopting a new perspective.

I’d like to share with you some of the things that help me do this when the going gets tough. And if you’re grappling with an issue that’s disturbing your inner peace, then why not try out some or all of the following to see if they help?

1. I remember past experiences

I’ve been through some dark emotional times when I was younger and, quite frankly, nothing I’m experiencing now even comes close to how I felt back then.

When I look back, I gain confidence in my ability to deal with the present situation because I know I‘ve been through far worse. That instantly makes me feel better.

2. I know that times change

There are four powerful little words that lift me up whenever I feel unwell or upset:

“This, too, shall pass.”

I’m not sure who came up with this saying. Some believe it comes from a fable written by Persian Sufi poets, whilst others credit it to Jewish folklore and say that it originated from King Solomon.

These words remind me that whatever I’m going through in this present moment is temporary. Life plays out in cycles, and time, slowly but surely, passes. Bad times come and then they go.

I only have to hang in there for a certain period of time before a more positive phase comes along. It may take a little time, so I may need to be patient, but it will come.

3. I question whether the issue will trouble me in the future

Is what I’m going through really going to be an issue in a week … a month … a year … or a decade from now?

Is this issue really going to be troubling me at the end of my life?

Or (because I believe in reincarnation) is this situation going to be a concern a few lifetimes down the line?

When I ask myself these questions, the answer is always ‘no’.

I have yet to discover an issue that doesn’t lose its negative hold over me when I start thinking from the vantage point of eternity!

4. I remind myself that my emotions are transitory

I often notice how I can feel really down one minute and then feel perfectly fine the next. Emotions really are ‘energy in motion’. They arise, work their way through my body, and disappear. That is, if I allow them to.

When I’m struck by a wave of difficult emotions I focus on my breathing. I take my attention to my feet, ground myself, and wait until the emotion passes.

It always does. Sometimes it takes minutes. Sometimes it takes a day or so.

I don’t allow myself to dwell on and overthink my emotions because I know the human mind is good at making a problem out of nothing. But on the rare occasion that an emotion is persistent and recurring, I pay attention to it by reflecting on what’s going on and then addressing the underlying cause.

5. I look at the situation from a different angle

If there is one thing I’ve learnt from my training and client work it’s that two people will never see the world in the same way. We all have our own unique take on ‘reality’, so much so that reality doesn’t even exist outside our own minds.

How I perceive the world is dictated by my thoughts, beliefs and history.

How you perceive the world is dictated by your thoughts, beliefs and history.

In times of distress this knowledge is quite liberating. If I see the world differently to the next person then, when life is getting difficult, it’s likely that someone else would perceive my predicament in an entirely different way.

What, for example, would the person with a slow, degenerating terminal illness make of my mild dizziness, insomnia, anaemia and fatigue?

What would the mother fleeing war-torn Syria with her children make of my petty concerns for my children with all their comforts and stability?

What would the person who has recently lost her mum think about my distress over my mum’s recent health crisis?

6. I reflect on my place in the cosmos

I remind myself that, at the end of the day, my life is actually pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things – and so am I.

Is it really worth stressing over the little things when my entire life wouldn’t even register as a flash of light on the continuum of human existence observed over time?

If I continue to see things from higher and higher vantage points, I soon arrive at the understanding that I’m not really that important at all. It’s just that my ego likes to believe that I am.

I am one person in a city of 8.7 million, in a country of 65.5 million, in a world of 7.5 billion. From an even wider perspective, I am a tiny speck on a planet orbiting a Star, which is one of 100 billion stars in just our galaxy alone. Scientists estimate that there are around 100,000,000,000 (one hundred billion) galaxies in the known universe, as far as current telescopes can detect. In the vastness of the universe I barely register at all.

You might find this pretty depressing, but I find it invigorating. What’s the point of sweating the small stuff when it simply doesn’t matter?

Here’s how I make sense of it all.

I have a very short time on this planet … too short to be worrying about silly things that will shortly be of no concern.

At any given time, it’s impossible that I’m the only one going through a difficulty.

In fact, my life is incredibly good when compared with the vast majority of others on this planet.

I have a healthy body, I’m surrounded by people I love, I have the privilege of doing meaningful work. I have a smart mind, I can learn and grow, I can do fun things and I am free.

Yes, sh*t happens every now and again. I get sick. I get tired. I get ratty. People I love get sick. Everyone does. But it’s entirely my choice whether I wallow in it, or I get up and get over it.

As the wise and gentle American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, has said:

“It isn’t the things that happen to us in our lives that cause us to suffer, it’s how we relate to the things that happen to us that causes us to suffer.”

This is good news because it means we all have the potential to change how we perceive the things and situations that upset us. Who was it that said,

“Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional”?


  • Jaspal:

    09 Jun 2017 16:38:38

    An excellent, enlightening and thought provoking blog.

  • Linda:

    15 Jun 2017 20:28:16

    Luverly uplifting blog wise woman.

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