Ep. 60: How to Avoid Unnecessary Suffering

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I’m all about living life to the fullest. From mountain climbing to hiking to enjoying a week at the yurt to jamming to some seriously amazing music at a local festival… But one thing that I see getting in the way of that is that we, silly humans, turn on ourselves a lot.

Like when someone says something shitty to us and when we are reacting in anger or whatever emotion, we’re also ultimately disconnected from our inner life. And when we do that, we aren’t living life to the fullest. We aren’t enjoying the pure miracle, the preciousness, of what this life is.

So what is UP with this turning on ourselves?

In Buddhist teachings, the Buddha described two arrows. The first part of understanding this story has to do with the First Noble Truth: the truth of suffering. Being born a human in a body will have some inherent suffering.

And there’s no way we can avoid it, right? We try. But when we do that we end up reacting with even more force.

And no matter how perfect someone’s life may seem, everyone – everyone – faces loss, grief, sickness and death at some point.

This is a part of the deal of being born a human, in a body, on this particular part of the planet, at this particular time.

The first arrow is that initial event itself, the painful experience. Once it happens, we can’t undo it, right? It’s happened and we can’t avoid it. The snarky remark. The frustrating event. The breakup.

But the second arrow is the one we shoot into ourselves.

And the good news is, this arrow is optional. It is what we do with the inevitable suffering that we will face.

Yes, we can react from a stress response of anger, fear, contracting…

Or we can learn how to experience the same painful event with less identification and aversion, and with a more relaxed and compassionate heart. For ourselves and others.

It is what we do with the – in this case – unpleasant feeling.

We have the option to feel it and notice it and not have an aversion to it, or get attached to something more pleasant to distract ourselves.

When we learn to release the aversion to unpleasant feelings… when we can release the judgment and self-blame in response to the first arrow, the second arrow becomes completely avoidable.

So what can we do to avoid the second arrow?

It’s critical to let yourself be with and feel the pain and natural responses to the first arrow – that moment of suffering. Don’t repress it!

You also need to learn to be uncomfortable, too. To be with discomfort.

And of course, there’s the key to mastering anything: practice!

Then we can live with integrity, aligned with our values. We can create change in the world. We can live a life of no regrets.

So let’s be aware of when we’re shooting ourselves with the second arrow and cut that shit out, ok?

In this episode, you’ll learn:

// How to release the aversion to unpleasant feelings or the attachment to something more pleasant as a distraction…as well as the judgment and self-blame that join the party.

// To bring compassion and kindness to the first arrow by understanding that what’s happening inside of us is totally human, from an evolutionary perspective.

// Not to be controlled by our emotions, so we can experience a sensation, say an unpleasant experience, and then decide what we want to do with it.


// If you’re new to the squad, grab the starter kit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll get access to the private Facebook group where you can ask me questions! Once you join, there’s also a weekly FB live called Wake the F*ck Up Wednesday, where you can ask questions that come up as you do this work – in all parts of your life.

// If you’re interested in finding out more about how to free your mind and free your life, join Freedom School. Enrollment is open, and we are diving DEEP into ways to cultivate clarity and courage so you can create your best life. There are also some sweet bonus courses for you there. It will set you up to live the best version of you in the year to come. Learn more at JoinFreedomSchool.com