Ep. 205: The Danger of Hiding Our Suffering

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | RSS

I once told a teacher if I didn’t hide my grief I’d fall to my knees on a street corner and start wailing.


She said, “Maybe that’s what the world needs, for people to fall to their knees on a street corner and start wailing.”


My first thought back then was, “If we all did that, wouldn’t the world be a shitshow?” (as if it wasn’t already).


We have a tendency to hide away suffering – our own as well as others’.


We hide our anger, grief, and loneliness from others.


We hide poverty and illness, pushing those to the edges of cities (when we can), or hiding them behind tall fences. 


I think of Gabor Mate’s comment that the best place to have schizophrenia is in a village in Africa or India, where there’s acceptance, and people make room for your different-ness. You are not excluded or ostracized, but welcome. Not institutionalized.


In these times, modern industrialized society still tries to hide people away.


A big reason we hide our own suffering from others is we don’t want to make others uncomfortable (as if suffering wasn’t a natural part of the human condition). Many of us were taught to do this as well – especially if socialized as women.


In Buddhism, suffering isn’t hidden – in fact, it’s one of the Four Noble Truths. It’s viewed as an inherent part of life. A fundamental reality.


Here’s the danger: If we hide suffering, we actually stifle growth on many levels.


The act of hiding our pain perpetuates a cycle of internalized suffering, which blocks us from looking inward and gaining insight into ourselves (and the root causes of our suffering).


Sure – when we’re transparent, we open ourselves up to vulnerability, but we are ALSO open to authenticity, and those two together are a magic combo for transformation. For healing and liberation.


Transparency also cultivates ziji – resilience and inner strength – for ourselves AND others around us. 


When we vulnerably share our suffering and witness it in others, we don’t just receive support and empathy but also inspire courage and resilience in those around us.


Hiding suffering also leads to complacency. Not hiding our suffering helps us grow as a community and society. Our interconnectedness fosters a sense of community and solidarity, so we’re not just addressing our own suffering but also contributing to the collective well-being of society.


When I first went to India, I appreciated how during some of my experiences, suffering was often not able to be hidden. Lepers came onto the trains asking for money. Kids with missing limbs were begging in the street. There was a foul stench in many places. 


I had a visceral understanding of why the Buddha – upon leaving his palace – was spurred onto The Path when he witnessed suffering: we want to help end it. 


It’s a natural human reaction to suffering.


Whether we appreciate suffering being in our faces or not, it is THERE. It EXISTS. And not just in developing countries. It’s everywhere.


While in India (as in all places) there is compassion fatigue and people who shut out the suffering, in the midst of this there are also people donating money, food, clean water, and acts of kindness. 


When we courageously share our vulnerabilities – our suffering – we create space for genuine human connection and mutual support, and the opportunity for others to be caring.


Maybe if we didn’t pretend everything was OK and hide it all away so we’re more comfortable and the world can go on business as usual – prioritizing efficiency and productivity – we’d start to DO something about it as a society.


Separateness is an illusion. Suffering is universal. Recognizing our shared humanity develops a profound sense of empathy toward others’ suffering and struggles. Then we can move beyond our ego and self-interest.


Transparency of our suffering (and witnessing it) can be a catalyst on our path towards liberation – as individuals AND as a society.


It can be overwhelming and scary to think of being that vulnerable. 


We can start the change close in.


We can invite our friends to be authentic and real for us. We can create a safe space without judgment. We can risk looking deeper into someone’s eyes and seeing their truth, even if it makes us uncomfortable.


And we can stop hiding ourselves, when – with discernment – we might feel vulnerable, but we know we are safe to be authentic.


So, rebel one…


Where can you be more transparent in your life today?


What’s one way you can create a safer environment for others to be more transparent with you?


Let us begin.

You will learn:

// Why we hide our suffering, even though it’s an unavoidable part of life

// How hiding suffering keeps us from growing – personally and as a community

// The two aspects of not hiding our suffering that can lead to healing and transformation

// How to start making the change to stop hiding, for ourselves and others



// Episode 63: Being Human Is Hard – The First Noble Truth


// Episode 102: Start Close In


// I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a review on the Rebel Buddhist Podcast on iTunes by clicking here 


// If you want to dive deeper into this Soul-level work and create a life of more freedom, adventure and purpose, head over to JoinFreedomSchool.com. It’s got everything you need in one place to start getting to the root cause of unnecessary suffering, and build a foundation for a lifetime of self-exploration and freedom.

// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist private group, and tune in every Wednesday as I go live with new inspiration and topics.